Tag Archives: food

Staying Safe After Flour Recalls


On April 4, 2017, the Canadian Brand Robin Hood Flour was recalled for Microbiological – E. coli. The E. coli was identified during the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s food safety inspection. Robin Hood is in the process of removing the recalled product from the marketplace.

General Mills flour also took some heat when they had to recall several types of flour due to E. coli illnesses in 2016 as well.

General Mills made a statement to remind the public not to eat raw dough. “Do not eat uncooked dough or batter made with raw flour. Flour is made from wheat that is grown outdoors where bacteria are often present. Flour is typically not treated to kill bacteria during the normal milling process” (General Mills).

Food Safety Magazine reminds people that, “flour products have long shelf lives and recalled products could be in people’s homes for a long time. If you have any recalled flour products in your home, throw them away.”

Food Safety also lists safe food handling practices when it comes to baking with flour and other raw ingredients:

  • Do not taste or eat any raw dough or batter, whether for cookies, tortillas, pizza, biscuits, pancakes, or crafts made with raw flour, such as homemade play dough or holiday ornaments.
  • Do not let children play with or eat raw dough, including dough for crafts.
  • Bake or cook raw dough and batter, such as cookie dough and cake mix, before eating.
  • Do not make milkshakes with products that contain raw flour, such as cake mix.
  • Do not use raw, homemade cookie dough in ice cream.
  • Follow the recipe or package directions for cooking or baking at the proper temperature and for the specified time.
  • Keep raw foods such as flour or eggs separate from ready-to eat-foods. Because flour is a powder, it can spread easily.
  • Follow label directions to refrigerate products containing raw dough or eggs until they are cooked.
  • Clean up thoroughly after handling flour, eggs or raw dough by washing your hands with running water and soap after handling flour, raw eggs or any surfaces that they have touched. Also wash bowls, utensils, countertops and other surfaces with hot water and soap.

Most importantly, stay safe. Make sure to avoid the consumption of raw dough, keep flour sealed and sanitary, and remember to replace flour in your home every so often to keep the product fresh.

Sources:

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/11/baking-this-weekend-just-say-no-to-the-raw-dough/#.WO9-dKIrLox

https://www.generalmills.com/flour

https://www.guelphtoday.com/local-news/robin-hood-flour-recalled-580544

FDA Permits Three Exceptions From Sanitary Transportation Rule

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  has published three waivers  to the now final Sanitary Transportation rule mandated by the  Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

 The waivers are for businesses whose transportation operations are subject to separate State-Federal controls. They include:

  • Businesses holding valid permits that are inspected under the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments’ Grade “A” Milk Safety Program, only when transporting Grade “A” milk and milk products.

  • Food establishments authorized by the regulatory authority to operate when engaged as receivers, or as shippers and carriers in operations in which food is delivered directly to consumers, or to other locations the establishments or affiliates operate that serve or sell food directly to consumers. (Examples include restaurants, supermarkets and home grocery delivery services.)

 

To finish reading the article, read more at Food Safety Magazine.

Single-Service Container Testing


Did you know there’s regulations on the sanitation of your milk jug or the foil on your yogurt cup?

Single-service containers and closures have been used in the dairy industry for many years. There are standards established by the FDA to ensure the production of sanitary containers and closures for milk and milk products.

The standards set down specific requirements for the plants that fabricate the containers. This includes blow molders for your plastic milk gallon, the paper and laminators for milk cartons, the plants that produce the caps for that jug, the foil you peel off the yogurt cup or the creamer in the restaurant.

The standards cover everything about the plant and the manufacturing lines. They include requirements regarding the floors, walls and ceilings. There are standards for ventilation and the water supplies. They also cover personnel practices and hand-washing facilities, to name a few.

After a plant has been inspected and meets all of the requirements, the plant is certified and can produce caps and containers for the dairy industry. They are also inspected quarterly.

There are also bacterial standards for the containers and closures. The testing of the final product must be done by a laboratory that has also been inspected and certified by the FDA. The lab is then approved to perform the testing on the caps and jugs.

Daily Laboratories is an example of an FDA certified laboratory. 

Sources:

PMO 2007: Appendix J – Standards: Fabrication of Single-Service Containers & Closures for Milk and Milk Products

Food For Thought: The Federal GMO Labeling Law

For several years, legislative bodies throughout the country have struggled with the issue of whether to label food products as containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or bioengineered food. Congress and various states have wrestled with whether to require foods containing GMOs to be labeled as such, and, if so, what the label should look like.

In July 2016, Congress voted to pass a GMO disclosure bill, establishing national standards for food labeling when foods contain GMO ingredients (with certain exceptions). On July 29, 2016, President Barack Obama signed the bill into law (GMO Labeling law). While proposed federal legislation in 2015 would have made GMO labeling only a voluntary program, the new GMO Labeling law—the result of bipartisan congressional compromise—makes GMO labeling mandatory. The law also preempts individual state GMO labeling laws.

Although the GMO Labeling law provides information about the different ways companies will be permitted to disclose GMO ingredients, it leaves the specific regulations implementing the law to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish by July 2018. Therefore, some uncertainty about the details of the new law remains for food companies, industry groups and consumers. It also remains to be seen how, if at all, the new law and the buzz surrounding it will cause some companies to modify any prior decisions to label GMO-containing products. Additionally, will the law impact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s highly anticipated definition of the term “natural” in food labeling? Significantly, will the new presidential administration affect implementation of the law, and if so, how? The GMO Labeling law begins a new chapter of the GMO labeling saga, but the tale is far from over.

What Does the New Law Say?
The secretary of agriculture, as head of USDA, is tasked with promulgating the specific GMO labeling regulations, including determining 1) which foods will be considered “bioengineered” and subject to the labeling requirements and 2) the specific ways a company can disclose GMOs on its labels. But the GMO Labeling law requires that disclosure be made on a food label through one of the following ways: text, a symbol or picture, a hotline consumers can call to receive GMO information or a bar code that links to a website displaying GMO information for the product.

Read more at Food Safety Magazine

Food For Thought: The Federal GMO Labeling Law


For several years, legislative bodies throughout the country have struggled with the issue of whether to label food products as containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or bioengineered food. Congress and various states have wrestled with whether to require foods containing GMOs to be labeled as such, and, if so, what the label should look like.

In July 2016, Congress voted to pass a GMO disclosure bill, establishing national standards for food labeling when foods contain GMO ingredients (with certain exceptions). On July 29, 2016, President Barack Obama signed the bill into law (GMO Labeling law). While proposed federal legislation in 2015 would have made GMO labeling only a voluntary program, the new GMO Labeling law—the result of bipartisan congressional compromise—makes GMO labeling mandatory. The law also preempts individual state GMO labeling laws.

Although the GMO Labeling law provides information about the different ways companies will be permitted to disclose GMO ingredients, it leaves the specific regulations implementing the law to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish by July 2018. Therefore, some uncertainty about the details of the new law remains for food companies, industry groups and consumers. It also remains to be seen how, if at all, the new law and the buzz surrounding it will cause some companies to modify any prior decisions to label GMO-containing products. Additionally, will the law impact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s highly anticipated definition of the term “natural” in food labeling? Significantly, will the new presidential administration affect implementation of the law, and if so, how? The GMO Labeling law begins a new chapter of the GMO labeling saga, but the tale is far from over.

What Does the New Law Say?
The secretary of agriculture, as head of USDA, is tasked with promulgating the specific GMO labeling regulations, including determining 1) which foods will be considered “bioengineered” and subject to the labeling requirements and 2) the specific ways a company can disclose GMOs on its labels. But the GMO Labeling law requires that disclosure be made on a food label through one of the following ways: text, a symbol or picture, a hotline consumers can call to receive GMO information or a bar code that links to a website displaying GMO information for the product.

Read More at Food Safety Magazine

The Truth Behind The 5-Second Rule


Growing up, almost everyone has heard of the “5-second rule,” also known as the five “safe” seconds to pick your food up off of the floor while it’s still safe to eat.

Naturally, it’s too good to be true. No matter how fast you pick your fallen portion up off the floor, you’re picking up any given number of bacteria along with it.

Research by the Centers for Disease Control found that, “surface cross-contamination was the sixth most common contributing factor out of 32 in outbreaks of food-borne illnesses” (NY Times).

Donald Schaffner, a microbiologist and professor at Rutgers University said that, “the 5-second rule is a significant oversimplification of what actually happens when bacteria transfer from a surface to food… Bacteria can contaminate instantaneously” (Live Science).

Are different types of food more vulnerable?


Absolutely. Bacteria will cling to items with a high moisture rate. According to the Applied and Environmental Microbiology Journal, factors that influence the transfer of bacteria from surface to surface and have been shown to affect cross contamination rates are:

  • The type of bacteria,
  • The source and destination surfaces,
  • Time postinoculation, and
  • Moisture level

Put simply, bacteria will saturate items such as watermelon, other fruits or any “wet” foods more rapidly than they will attach to gummy candy, cookies or “dry” foods.

There is some truth to the 5-second rule, hence why it originated. Reduced contact time with any given surface corresponds with the amount of bacteria transferred. So the difference between 5 seconds and 5 minutes is significant when it comes to bacteria transfer. The longer the time in contact with the floor, the more “contaminated” the item is. There’s just no such thing as no bacteria transfer because the item was picked up in the first five seconds.

Does the type of surface matter?

Yes.

According to the study at Rutgers University, “carpet had a very low rate of transmission of bacteria compared with tile and stainless steel; transfer rates from wood varied” (NY Times).

No matter the surface, bacteria will still be transferred.

So, to eat or not to eat before five-seconds? That one’s ultimately on you.

Sources:

Montville, R., and D. W. Schaffner. “Inoculum Size Influences Bacterial Cross Contamination between Surfaces.” Applied and Environmental Microbiology 69.12 (2003): 7188–7193. PMC. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.

Mele, Christopher. “‘Five-Second Rule’ for Foods on Floor is Untrue, Study Finds.” The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/science/five-second-rule.html?_r=0

Rettner, Rachael. “Still Good? 5-Second Rule a Myth, Study Finds.” Live Science. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/56158-5-second-rule-myth.html

Mail you’d rather not get


It starts with an unannounced arrival in the lobby. A produce company is operating in full swing at its chopped bag salad plant when investigators with the Food and Drug Administration come calling for a random inspection. For the next two weeks, investigators’ eyes are on everything, pouring through records, food safety plans, collecting samples and making observations.

When their evaluation is complete, a five-page document is handed over to the food company’s senior management with a summary of the inspection. This document, known formally as an FDA Form 483, notes three separate observations recorded during the investigation, highlighting issues with contamination of surfaces, floor and wall construction, and a failure to conduct pest screening.

“Essentially, a Form 483 is like a police officer giving you a speeding ticket,” explains Shawn K. Stevens, food safety lawyer and founding member of Food Industry Counsel, LLC. “It outlines all the violations that the FDA investigators observed while inspecting your facility.”

Read More at Food Safety News

Social Media’s Endless Feed of Food


Have you ever sat down at a restaurant or coffee shop and watched someone take a picture of their food before they have even touched it? Maybe that person was you?

“Social media is an endless feed of food — drawings in cappuccino foam and artfully staged overstuffed hamburgers” writes Nina Strochlic, in an article from National Geographic. But did you know that millennials weren’t the first group of people to hop on the #foodporn bandwagon?

Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab performed a study where they analyzed American and European paintings of family meals from the years 1500 to 2000. “The study compared how frequently a food item was depicted in art with how commonly it was consumed” (Strochlic). The conclusion of the study showed that portraying fancy, high-end foods such as lobster and shellfish were primarily used to flaunt wealth and status.

Today, posting our decked out burgers, overflowing milkshakes, and crafted cupcakes on social media is essentially the same thing. The bottom line is that we want to show off the food we are consuming, and we want people to, literally, “like” it.

Why do we still continue to do it? It all comes down to psychology. According to the Journal of Consumer Marketing, a study’s findings show that delay in consumption increases savory. When savory increases, so do the attitudes towards the overall taste and experience of the meal. So when people take pictures of their food before they indulge, that slight hesitation leads to a more enjoyable and worthwhile experience.

So the next time you go to post a picture of your meal, go ahead. Your long lost relative was most likely doing the same thing 500 years ago.

Sources:

Strochlic, Nina. “Artistic Liberty at the Table.” National Geographic. Print.

Sean Coary, Morgan Poor, (2016). “How consumer-generated images shape important consumption outcomes in the food domain”, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 33 Iss: 1, pp.1 – 8.

Bugs are in your food, and it’s FDA approved


Red lipstick has been a timeless staple in pop culture for as long as the beauty world can remember. But did you know the secret behind the pop of color is actually due to crushed-up insect extract?

That’s right. Bugs are the secret to fiery red lips as well as other products such as cheek blush, red gum, berry-flavored yogurt, some ice cream, some ketchup, and several others.

These not-so-mystery bugs are Cochineal insects. They’re harvested in Peru and the Canary Islands and are found on cacti. The result of the sun-dried, crushed, and soaked in acid Cochineal bug is a bright red-colored pigment. It takes about 70,000 insects to produce a pound of dye, according to Live Science.

Don’t worry, this natural coloring is FDA approved! As of 2009, the FDA states that color additives from cochineal extract can be used, but they must be labeled clearly on all food and cosmetic products in the U.S. To learn about the specifications, you can access it here.

“The U.S. food-regulating agency permits a generous threshold of insects in foods before they’re considered contaminated: up to 60 aphids in 100 grams of frozen broccoli of 550 insect fragments per average box of pasta” says National Geographic. These bugs are natural, and they’re safe to consume!

If you’re experiencing the creeps, just remember not to think about it too much. Cochineal insects are here to help, and they’re here to stay.

Sources:

“Bugs are in our Food — And That’s OK.” National Geographic. Print. Feb 2017.

Guidance for Industry: Cochineal Extract and Carmine: Declaration by Name on the Label of All Foods and Cosmetic Products That Contain These Color Additives; Small Entity Compliance Guide. FDA.gov. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/ColorAdditives/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/ucm153038.htm

“Here’s what you need to know about the ground-up insects that Starbucks puts in your Frappuccino.” Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-cochineal-insects-color-your-food-and-drinks-2012-3/#the-cochineal-insect-is-native-to-mexico-and-south-america-and-contrary-to-the-popular-nomenclature-theyre-not-technically-beetles-theyre-tiny-and-live-on-cactus-plants-usually-the-prickly-pear-cactus-1

“The Truth About Red Food Dye Made from Bugs.” Live Science. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/36292-red-food-dye-bugs-cochineal-carmine.html

Photo Attribution: here

10 Foods That Never (or Almost Never) Expire

 

Stocking up on chow for a potential emergency? Canned tuna and dried fruit will last for quite a while in your pantry, but if you really want foods that will last for the long haul, reach for one of these endurance champs.

1. WHITE RICE

Researchers have found that white (or polished) rice will maintain its nutrient content and flavor for 30 years when stored in oxygen-free containers in temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Brown rice, however, doesn’t last nearly as long (6 months) because of the natural oils found in its bran layer.

2. HONEY 

Honey has been called the only food that truly lasts forever, thanks to its magical chemistry and the handiwork of bees. The nectar from flowers mixes with enzymes inside the bees that extract it, which changes the nectar’s composition and breaks it down into simple sugars that are deposited into honeycombs. Fanning action from the bees’ wings and the enzymes from their stomachs create a liquid that is both highly acidic [PDF] and low in moisture—truly inhospitable digs for bacterial growth. Continue reading