January 13, 2011
SafeFood© and the World’s Oldest Profession
Huh? I am talking about farming, not that other job. Food safety on the farm has come under more scrutiny as we have had outbreaks traced back to fresh produce. The exposure to natural contaminants, such as bird droppings, wild pig feces, run-off water, etc is pretty hard to avoid when growing fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce in the raw form has not received a kill step of cooking to reduce bacterial loads. So what is the answer? As a dietitian, I am all for increased fruit and vegetable consumption. The evidence is pretty clear increases of these foods and decreases of junk foods would mitigate a lot of health issues for Americans. Like many - I like fruits and vegetables that are uncooked or processed - but I take precautions. Washing my hands and washing the product before eating are two simple steps I can take as a consumer. Producers are also scaling up to improve on-farm food safety by using good agricultural practices (GAPs) and appropriate post-harvest handling procedures. An apple a day… hmm, not such bad advice.
January 01, 2011
SafeFood© and the New Year
A new year is full of promise and hope. Let’s hope the talk in 2010 about improving the safety of food from farm to fork comes to fruition. Let’s hope the Food Safety Modernization Act, which expanded authority for government inspections and established on farm food safety requirements (for producers meeting certain dollar volumes) is funded properly. Let’s hope folks realize people practices can make or prevent a foodborne illness outbreak - and act accordingly. Let’s hope awareness about food safety translates into actions – and good practices become a habit. Happy New Year – and a hope your 2011 is foodborne illness free!
December 06, 2010
SafeFood© and the Cookie Walk
One of the women’s magazines did a poll of their readers and found 71% were planning to give some type of home-cooked/prepared food gifts this holiday season. That is a lot, and good news that people know what to do in the kitchen – as other reports show increasing decline in basic cooking skills. I hope that those who are preparing these gifts follow the fundamentals of SafeFood© preparation: wash hands often and well; clean counters and equipment with clean sponges and towels; and avoid contamination of the goodies.
The first one is easy – it is just a matter of being intentional (wash hands with soap rather than licking them clean). The second one also is easily taken care of with good planning and stocking of supplies. The third one may require some supervision as it is hard to keep others away from the good smells. Strategize tactics on keeping everyone busy and happy while keeping the food safe. Make it mandatory for everyone involved to wash their hands properly as soon as they enter the area and to put on a clean apron. Lay in a supply of plastic gloves for helpers to wear as they frost cookies or package sugared pecans. Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illnesses. Only a few of these viral cells are needed to cause illness – and it is highly contagious and very hardy. When hands aren’t washed properly (at the proper times and using proper procedures), and foods that are ready to eat are touched, the transfer of the viral cells can occur. Designate a sampling break to avoid the nibbling – and transfer of saliva, which is where staphylococcus aureus can be found, to the food. I heard once that eating or licking fingers and then touching food is the same as licking the food. Think about that as you slave in the kitchen preparing these treats. Your friends are lucky to receive these – do your part to be sure you aren’t gifting a food borne illness as a bonus!