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Category: Food Safety

Big Help for Small Producers

A USDA pilot program is helping small producers reach more retail markets by making Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification more accessible and affordable.  Under the pilot, cooperatives, food hubs and other groups of small producers can pool resources to implement food safety training programs, perform internal inspections and share the cost of GAP certification.

A USDA pilot program is helping small producers reach more retail markets by making Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification more accessible and affordable. Under the pilot, cooperatives, food hubs and other groups of small producers can pool resources to implement food safety training programs, perform internal inspections and share the cost of GAP certification.

For their communities, small farmers are anything but small. Their contributions are quite large – not only do they provide food for local residents – they also create jobs and economic opportunities.  However, retailer requirements and the cost of marketing can make it difficult for small producers to scale up and reach larger markets. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is working to remove those barriers by offering a number of services that help small and local producers grow and sustain their businesses.

In the produce industry, more and more retailers require suppliers to have Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification, which verifies that the operation is following industry-recognized food safety practices and recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration.  For small farmers, getting GAP certified can be difficult and expensive. To help offset some of these costs, the AMS Specialty Crops Inspection Division and Transportation and Marketing Program are partnering with the Wallace Center at Winrock International to implement a Group GAP Pilot Project. Read more »

Food Safety 101 Webinar Series: Bringing Food Safety To Your Kitchen

Food poisoning is a serious public health threat. CDC estimates that approximately 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) could suffer from food poisoning illness this year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. This September, to celebrate Food Safety Education Month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) will help get the word out about important safety tips and tools to combat foodborne illness by hosting a free two-part webinar series: “Food Safety 101”. The series will be hosted by FSIS’ Food Safety Education Staff, and will feature speakers from the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, FSIS’ Office of Public Health Science, Kansas State University, and the International Food Information Council.

The webinars will emphasize USDA’s four steps to food safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill and offer a unique opportunity to hear from FSIS’s educators, researchers and partners. “Back to Basics”, the first webinar in this series, will occur on September 10th from noon to 1:30 pm EST and cover basic food safety tasks and the risks that can be avoided with proper food safety practices. “Everyday Application” will occur a week later on September 17th from noon to 1:30 pm EST. Participants of the second webinar will be able to identify common kitchen food safety blunders, and alternatives to keep your family foodborne illness free. Read more »

SAVE Money by Knowing When Food is Safe

Stop! Don’t throw that food away! It might be safe to use, and that will save you money. According to USDA’s Economic Research Service, each American wastes more than 20 pounds of food every month. That’s about $115 billion worth of good food thrown away every year at the consumer level in the U.S. Top food group wasted by value is meat, poultry and fish.

While the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline would never advise you to eat unsafe food, we don’t want you to throw away safe food and lose money. Read more »

FSIS Enhances Food Safety Protections for Ground Beef

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced new procedures that will allow the agency to trace contaminated ground beef back to its source more quickly, remove it from commerce, and identify the root cause to prevent it from happening again.  These changes build on other initiatives the agency has instituted this summer to improve the safety of ground beef, including a proposed requirement that retailers keep records of their ground beef source suppliers, and new laboratory methods the agency is using to test these products for multiple pathogens at one time.

Typically, a company that produces ground beef uses source material purchased from a slaughterhouse or other supplier.  As the ground beef is being produced, FSIS takes a sample and tests it for the presence of illness-causing E. coli O157:H7. Read more »

Four Steps to a Food Safe Eid ul-Fitr

Traditional Moroccan meal for Eid ul-Fitr after the fast for Ramadan has been broken.

Traditional Moroccan meal for Eid ul-Fitr after the fast for Ramadan has been broken.

Ramadan will end this week.  This month of fasting concludes with Eid ul-Fitr, and on this festive day it is forbidden to fast. Those commemorating this holiday attend prayer, visit with family and friends, and celebrate. While traditions vary, one component stays the same – FOOD. If you plan on celebrating this “Festival of Breaking the Fast” follow the four simple steps for food safety to keep your loved ones foodborne illness-free: clean, separate, cook and chill.

During Eid ul-Fitr, observers visit the homes of family, friends and neighbors. As with most family gatherings and celebrations, children often play while adults talk. Also like most family gatherings and celebrations, food is usually served, in the form of a small snack or a large meal. As you and your family make your holiday visits, make sure your children clean their hands before they enjoy the day’s treats. Read more »

Another Step Forward in Food Safety – What You Need to Know About Grinding Logs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is proposing a requirement for official establishments and retail stores that grind raw beef products to keep detailed and in-depth log record systems.

The proposed grinding log rule is now available for public review at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulations/federal-register/proposed-rules. Read more »