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Category: Food Safety

Training Growers, Growing Trainers: Preparing for New Food Safety Requirements

A grower and an internal auditor look over records during a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) audit. The grower is in the GroupGAP Program, which allows grower groups to pool their resources to establish food safety best practices, lead food safety trainings, develop quality management systems, and pay for certification costs. Photo courtesy of the Upper Peninsula Food Exchange.

A grower and an internal auditor look over records during a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) audit. The grower is in the GroupGAP Program, which allows grower groups to pool their resources to establish food safety best practices, lead food safety trainings, develop quality management systems, and pay for certification costs. Photo courtesy of the Upper Peninsula Food Exchange.

Are you preparing to meet the new Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Produce Safety rule standards?  Have you heard about Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs)?  Maybe you’ve heard that they can get buyers to notice your products and improve your access to the market place – but you need more information to know if it can work for you.

USDA is hard at work connecting growers with training and resources to support GAP certification and expand their food safety know how. We’ve made big investments in food safety education for growers in recent years, supporting projects through AMS grant programs—the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, Federal-State Market Improvement Program, Farmers Market Promotion Program, and Local Food Promotion Program. Read more »

USDA’s Collaborative and Active Engagement in the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System is Twenty Years Old and Going Strong

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on January 26, 1998 that it was going to require meat and poultry processing plants to have a science-based Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) food inspection system put into place. HACCP is a food production, storage, and distribution monitoring system for identification and control of associated health hazards using definitive scientific tests. Its purpose is to prevent contamination of food products during processing. USDA photo.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on January 26, 1998 that it was going to require meat and poultry processing plants to have a science-based Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) food inspection system put into place. HACCP is a food production, storage, and distribution monitoring system for identification and control of associated health hazards using definitive scientific tests. Its purpose is to prevent contamination of food products during processing. USDA photo.

Today kicked off “Get Smart about Antibiotics” week in the United States and the World Health Organization’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week in 2016. During this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its other federal partners want to remind families and communities about the importance of responsible antibiotic use in both humans and animals, to help reduce the development of resistant bacteria. This week, we also celebrate the 20th anniversary of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS).  Through NARMS, USDA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collaborate on everything relating to antimicrobial resistant bacteria.   Since 1996, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) have been active participants in this combined federal surveillance program.

So, what is antimicrobial resistance?  As you might recall, in 1928, Dr. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, a drug that revolutionized the treatment of bacterial infections. In the years following, penicillin and the discovery and therapeutic use of other antibiotics, we have relied on antibiotics to treat and cure a variety of illnesses – in both humans and animals, across the globe. The use of these drugs has aided in the development of resistant strains of bacteria. Unfortunately, this development means that some previously treatable forms of bacterial infections are now resistant to the antibiotics that were designed to treat them. It is estimated that the decrease in effectiveness of antibiotics, results in more than two million U.S. cases of antibiotic resistant infections, annually. Some of these types of infections might require longer hospital stays and are more costly to treat successfully.  Read more »

Are You and Your Food Prepared for a Power Outage?

Severe Weather Food Safety infographic

Know how to keep food safe before, during and after emergencies. Hurricanes, tornadoes, winter weather and other events may cause power outages. Follow these tips to help minimize food loss and reduce your risk of foodborne illness. (Click to view a larger version)

Every year, the month of September is recognized as National Preparedness Month.  It is a good time to think about emergency planning for any disaster or emergency.  Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make an Emergency Communication Plan.

Weather can be extremely unpredictable, as many communities throughout Louisiana can attest with the recent devastating flooding.  These emergencies and disasters can happen anywhere. Even if you live in an area that doesn’t typically experience extreme weather, you still might experience occasional power outages. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service can help you plan and prepare for a power outage caused by a disaster or emergency with practical food safety guidance.  You can keep this information in a place where you can quickly pull it out should you need it. Read more »

Flooding: A Checklist for Small and Very Small Meat, Poultry and Egg Inspection Processing Plants

Flooded out roads in Cass County, North Dakota.

Flooded out roads in Cass County, North Dakota.

Rivers rise. The ground is saturated. Levees fail. Floods happen, and they happen beside rivers, along the coasts, in deserts and in city streets. Flooding might be a fact of nature but that does not mean you have to lose your business and possessions to flood waters. 

It is never too early to prepare.  Because September is National Preparedness Month, it is a good time to think about emergency planning.  Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make an Emergency Communication Plan. Read more »

New Allowances for Including a “Non-GMO” Statement on Certified Organic Meat and Poultry Products

New procedures by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service allows certified organic meat and poultry producers to obtain approval of non-GMO label claims based on their organic certification.

New procedures by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service allows certified organic meat and poultry producers to obtain approval of non-GMO label claims based on their organic certification.

Organic meat and poultry producers can now use a streamlined process to get approval for labels verifying that their products do not include genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.  These products may also now use a “Non-GMO” label claim.  Because of this, we’re updating a previous blog from our “Organic 101” series.

In 2014, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) streamlined procedures for including a “non-genetically engineered” statement on the label of organic meat and poultry products.  This continues to be consistent with organic regulations, which have always prohibited the use of GE in all organic products.  Today, FSIS is adding further process improvements and labeling flexibilities, in light of recently passed legislation.  Many organic stakeholders have expressed an interest in using “Non-GMO” label claims to clearly communicate to consumers that organic products do not contain genetically engineered ingredients, and that organic animals were not fed genetically engineered feed.  Read more »

September is National Food Safety Education Month

Two women preparing vegetables

FNS is committed to providing school nutrition professionals with the tools they need to prevent and control norovirus outbreaks.

Can you believe that September is already here?  It may not feel like fall where you are, but, slowly, our focus has begun to shift from summer fun to returning to school and learning.

For more than twenty years, September has been recognized as National Food Safety Education Month.  The National Food Safety Education Month theme for 2016 is “Notorious Virus.”  So what better time to consider learning more about food safety and, in particular, learning more about food safety education in the school environment? Read more »