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September 16, 2010

SafeFood© Politics

The recall of a whole lot of fresh shell eggs has resulted in a lot of finger pointing. Maybe that is human nature – no one wants to take responsibility. There are those who see the recall as an indictment of agriculture businesses. Apparently eggs from small scale producers are selling quickly either directly to consumer or at farmer’s markets; it appears many take comfort in knowing where their food comes from. Yet others take comfort in strengthening regulations that govern production and handling practices, which raises the question of whether a small producer can realistically comply with more regulations. This recall seems illustrates we can have rules but that there is difficulty in monitoring to ensure compliance. So, are more regulations really the answer? This debate is part of the food safety legislation working its way through Congress. Outbreaks from fresh produce in recent years have folks recognizing all foods present risks. Yes, actions need to be taken to mitigate risks, but these actions should be driven by the science, not those who cry for 100% guaranteed safe product. With agriculture products, it ain’t gonna happen. It’s a little hard to remove Mother Nature from the equation!

September 01, 2010

SafeFood© Specifics

Had the opportunity to be video taped for a web segment on staying healthy by avoiding foodborne illness. While was able to stress the importance of following the 4 basic steps advised by FightBac® of Chill, Separate, Clean and Cook – didn’t really have time to give many nitty gritty details on what that means. SafeFood© requires paying attention – keeping your head in the game, so to speak.

Bear with me as I elaborate. Chill is keeping cold foods cold. Using the refrigerator to thaw frozen meats is better than placing these items in the sink or on the counter to thaw during the work day.

Separate raw from cooked or ready to eat foods – in the refrigerator and during preparation. Think about establishing fresh produce work stations in your homes – that is what many restaurants and culinary schools do. This helps avoid risk of cross contamination. Also separate clean surfaces from soiled surfaces.

Clean means different things to different people – as a mom, I have had conversations with my youngsters as to its definition. In terms of food safety, it means surfaces are free of any visible soil; the next step is sanitary which means no disease causing microorganisms are present. Those nasty microbes can’t be seen – so how we clean things is important. You can’t go wrong with hot soapy water and a good rinse. But make sure you are cleaning surfaces with clean tools – sponges and dish cloths are can get gunked up pretty quickly.

Cooking is a way to be sure that we have killed off enough microorganisms that are naturally present in the food. It is hard to touch or see this is done – use a thermometer and check the temperatures. (See previous blog about the SafeFood© Grill0.