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Category: Food Safety

GroupGAP: Food Safety Assurance for Growers and Buyers Big and Small

Two women inside a high tunnel talking

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Specialty Crops Inspection Division (SCI) performs GAP audits, which are voluntary, third-party services that verify that farms are following industry-recognized food safety practices and recommendations from the FDA. Photo courtesy of Iowa Food Hub.

In the produce industry, food safety is front and center on everyone’s mind. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released some of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) final rules, and retailers are looking to buy from FSMA-compliant suppliers. If you’re a retailer or large produce buyer, there is exciting news about a program that verifies that suppliers are meeting your food safety requirements. After three years of successful trials, USDA recently previewed our plans to expand the GroupGap Pilot Program.

Many producers are aware of “Good Agricultural Practices,” or GAP audits. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Specialty Crops Inspection Division (SCI) performs GAP audits, which are voluntary, third-party services that verify that farms are following industry-recognized food safety practices and recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Read more »

USDA, California Department of Agriculture and Oakland Athletics Partner to Promote Food Safety Education Month

Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Alfred V. Almanza, California Department of Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, and Oakland A’s player Mark Canha visited a California elementary school to teach students about food safety.

Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Alfred V. Almanza, California Department of Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, and Oakland A’s player Mark Canha visited a California elementary school to teach students about food safety.

This week Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Alfred V. Almanza, California Department of Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, and Oakland A’s player Mark Canha visited a California elementary school to teach students about food safety. The visit is part of a USDA effort to promote public understanding of foodborne illness during Food Safety Education Month, which occurs every September.

An estimated 1 in 6 (48 million) Americans get sick from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children are among the most vulnerable to food poisoning because their immune systems are still developing, so caregivers need to take extra precautions when preparing and packing healthy, safe school lunches Read more »

Do YOU Have a Plan to Keep Food Safe during Severe Weather?

 

Food Safety Before, During and After a Power Outage

Graphic - Food Safety Before, During and After a Power Outage

Disaster can strike at anytime and any place.  You might live in a region of the country that already has experienced some form of extreme weather event, such as wildfires, extreme cold and snow, or obstructive tornadoes, to name a few.

All of these events result in power outages for hundreds of thousands of households and communities, and as you know, no power can compromise food safety. The temperature and sanitation of food storage areas is crucial to preventing bacterial growth, and severe weather and other emergencies can compromise this.  Knowing what to do in these instances can minimize the need to throw away food and the risk of getting sick. Read more »

Keeping Foods Safe For a Successful School Year

As the days get shorter and the month of August winds down with the appearance of back-to-school sales, we recognize the telltale signs that signal the “official” end of summer and the beginning of a new school year.  For USDA professionals interested in food safety, nutrition and health, thoughts of safe food preparation and school lunches packed at home, come to mind. 

It is estimated that each year in the U.S., there are more than 48 million cases of foodborne illness, with 128,000 people hospitalized from these illnesses and nearly 3,000 deaths.  It is startling that one in six Americans will become ill from foodborne illness each year since most are preventable.  The most vulnerable members of our population are pregnant women, children, the elderly and those whose immune systems are compromised by other diseases and illnesses.  That’s why care must be taken to assure that the foods consumed are safe. Read more »

Improving the Safety of Leafy Greens

Sadhana Ravishankar with a bag of leafy greens

Sadhana Ravishankar, associate professor at the University of Arizona’s School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences, led a team of researchers at the University of Arizona that discovered natural methods to sanitize leafy vegetables.

Food safety is a top priority for consumers, especially when it comes to the leafy greens in salads. Researchers at the University of Arizona have discovered natural methods to sanitize these vegetables using ingredients commonly found in the kitchen, such as oregano, cinnamon, and vinegar.

Plant extracts, essential oils, and organic sanitizers have all proved effective in killing bacteria on leafy greens and extending their shelf life. When emulsified in the water used to wash these leaves, the approach compares to (and sometimes even works better than) bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Read more »

Food Safety is Everybody’s Business

A plate of hamburgers beside vegetables on skewers, ketchup, mustard and a pepper shaker

Consumers should be vigilant about handling and cooking food properly—food safety is everybody’s business.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

USDA’s summer road trip may have come to an end, but many folks are still firing up the grills as summer winds down. With that, consumers still need to be conscious of food safety—from checking temperatures of grilled meat to discarding perishables that have been sitting out too long. A quick U-turn on our road trip explores USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) food safety research program, which addresses complex food safety challenges by developing scientific information and new technologies to control foodborne contaminants. Read more »