Publix Super Markets collects money for American Red Cross disaster relief to assist areas in Carolinas affected by severe weather

LAKELAND, Fla., 2015-10-6 — /EPR Retail News/ — Today Publix Super Markets established a program to offer its customers and associates a way to directly assist those areas in the Carolinas affected by recent severe weather. Customers may donate any amount by adding it to their grocery totals when checking out at Publix registers. Collected money will be channeled through the American Red Cross for disaster relief. The program will continue for a few weeks, based on customer response.

In related efforts, the Bahamas was recently affected by Hurricane Joaquin. The Bahamas Red Cross Society fully activated their Emergency Operations Centre and is coordinating closely with the Government’s National Emergency Operations Centre (NEMO). The American Red Cross is monitoring these efforts, and the Red Cross Pan-American Disaster Relief Unit continues to provide support to the Bahamas Red Cross.

“Our customers and associates have trusted Publix to react quickly and help those affected by tragic circumstances,” said Maria Brous, director of media and community relations. “The catastrophic flooding has impacted our immediate operating area, and we are looking to provide assistance to our neighbors and to the communities we serve. In addition, Hurricane Joaquin left behind devastation to the Bahamas, which also hits close to home as we have many associates and their families from the islands. We continue to monitor the situation in the Bahamas with the American Red Cross and wait to hear if an appeal for assistance is requested.”

Publix is also coordinating truck load donations of water and shelf-stable food with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division as well as other nonprofit organizations.

In a separate donation, Publix Super Markets Charities is donating $100,000 to American Red Cross for relief efforts in the impacted areas.

SOURCE: Publix Asset Management Company

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USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service issues food safety recommendations for those who may be impacted due to Hurricane Joaquin

WASHINGTON, 2015-10-5 — /EPR Retail News/ — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing food safety recommendations for those who may be impacted due to Hurricane Joaquin.

On Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service announced Hurricane Joaquin as a Category 4 hurricane in Central and Northwest Bahamas. The Hurricane is expected to move into the United States during the next couple of days. Some strengthening during the next day or so is forecast, with some fluctuations in intensity possible on Friday. The storm’s impact will become clearer as the week progresses.

A hurricane watch for the East coast of the U.S. could be required as early as tonight and into the weekend. Residents along the East Coast should pay close attention to the forecast now through this weekend. Be aware that flooding from heavy rain, damaging winds, and tidal flooding will be possible. These types of weather forecasts present the possibility of power outages that could compromise the safety of stored food. Significant flood is also possible from this and other weather systems that will be impacting the East Coast though next week. Flooding is possible from South Carolina through Massachusetts, including North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

FSIS recommends that consumers take the following steps to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness during severe weather events.

Steps to follow in advance of losing power:

  • Keep appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure temperatures remain food safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40°F or lower in the refrigerator, 0°F or lower in the freezer.
  • Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers prior to a storm. These containers are small enough to fit around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold. Remember, water expands when it freezes so don’t overfill the containers.
  • Freeze refrigerated items, such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately—this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
  • Know where you can get dry ice or block ice.
  • Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours.
  • Group foods together in the freezer—this ‘igloo’ effect helps the food stay cold longer.
  • Keep a few days’ worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling.

Steps to follow if the power goes out:

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
  • Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross contamination of thawing juices.
  • Use dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible during an extended power outage. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.

Steps to follow after a weather emergency:

  • Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.
  • Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.
  • Check frozen food for ice crystals. The food in your freezer that partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40°F or below.
  • Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.
  • When in doubt, throw it out.

Food Safety After a Flood

  • Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water – this would include raw fruits and vegetables, cartons of milk or eggs.
  • Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water. Food containers that are not waterproof include those packaged in plastic wrap or cardboard, or those with screw‐caps, snap lids, pull tops, and crimped caps. Flood waters can enter into any of these containers and contaminate the food inside. Also, discard cardboard juice/milk/baby formula boxes and home canned foods if they have come in contact with flood water, because they cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized.
  • Inspect canned foods and discard any food in damaged cans. Can damage is shown by swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting, or crushing/denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual, wheel‐type can opener.

The FoodSafety.gov, has compiled a list of what foods should be discarded if a refrigerator has been held at a temperature above 40 °F for more than two hours:

Refrigerated perishable foods that should be discarded:

  • Raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, or seafood; soy meat substitutes
  • Thawing meat or poultry
  • Salads: Meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken, or egg salad
  • Gravy, stuffing, broth
  • Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef
  • Pizza – with any topping
  • Canned hams labeled “Keep Refrigerated”
  • Canned meats and fish, opened
  • Casseroles, soups, stews
  • Soft Cheeses: blue/bleu, Roquefort, Brie, Camembert, cottage, cream, Edam, Monterey
  • Jack, ricotta, mozzarella, Muenster, Neufchatel, queso blanco, queso fresco
  • Shredded Cheeses
  • Low-fat Cheeses
  • Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt, eggnog, soy milk
  • Baby formula, opened
  • Fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products
  • Custards and puddings, quiche
  • Fresh fruits, cut
  • Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish (discard if above 10°C for over 8 hours)
  • Fish sauces, oyster sauce
  • Opened creamy-based dressings
  • Spaghetti sauce, opened jar
  • Refrigerator biscuits, rolls, cookie dough
  • Cooked pasta, rice, potatoes
  • Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinaigrette
  • Fresh pasta
  • Cheesecake
  • Pastries, cream filled
  • Pies – custard, cheese filled, or chiffon; quiche
  • Vegetables: Greens, pre-cut, pre-washed, packaged
  • Vegetables, cooked; tofu
  • Vegetable juice, opened
  • Baked potatoes
  • Commercial garlic in oil
  • Potato salad
  • Casseroles, soups, stews

FSIS will provide relevant food safety information as the storm progresses from its Twitter feed @USDAFoodSafety and on Facebook at Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov.

FSIS’ YouTube video “Food Safety During Power Outages” has instructions for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe. The publication “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes” can be downloaded and printed for reference during a power outage. FSIS also has an infographic covering what to do before, during and after a power outage.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at www.AskKaren.gov  or m.AskKaren.gov on a smartphone. The mobile Ask Karen can also be downloaded from the iTunes and Google Play app stores. Consumers can e-mail, chat with a live representative or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from the app. To use these features from Mobile Ask Karen, simply choose “Contact Us” from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET in English and Spanish.

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