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Posts tagged: Jerold Mande

Making America’s Food Safety System Stronger

Last week some of the nation’s top leaders in food safety gathered at the Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, Virginia, for a session called “Strengthening America’s Food Safety System.”

USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Jerold Mande led the panel discussions. The wide-ranging conversation included Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator Al Almanza, along with consumer advocates from the Consumer Federation of America and the Pew Health Group’s Food Safety Campaign, industry representatives from the National Meat Association and Cargill Inc., and state and federal public health officials.

To kick off the session, Mande outlined the three principles of the President’s Food Safety Working Group: prioritizing prevention of foodborne illness; strengthening surveillance and enforcement; and improving recovery and response when incidents occur.

Here are a few things that we’re doing at USDA every day to work toward reducing foodborne illnesses:

- In July, the Working Group released its Key Findings that included 15 key actions to improve the nation’s food safety.  We have completed over half and are on schedule to implement them all.

- Secretary Vilsack has made food safety research a high priority, including a new Institute for Food Safety Research and an expanded research budget.

- Later this year, USDA will launch the Public Health Information System, a dynamic new data analytics system that will revolutionize FSIS’s ability to detect and respond to foodborne hazards.

“We must do everything in our power to provide our citizens safe food,” Mande said, “starting with unprecedented cooperation among federal agencies, state partners, industry, and consumers.” He emphasized that this session showed this kind of effort.

If you’re not already, follow us on Twitter for the latest food safety tips and latest news and head over to FoodSafety.gov for comprehensive consumer food safety information from across government agencies.

Deputy Under Secretary Jerold Mande
Food Safety Inspection Service Deputy Under Secretary, Jerold Mande on the panel at the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum.

By Craig Stoltz, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Web Manager

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service offers food safety tips for hurricane season

As the peak of the 2009 hurricane season approaches, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is providing recommendations to minimize the chance of foodborne illnesses due to power outages and other problems caused by severe weather.

“In the hours after a tropical storm or hurricane, food safety can become a critical public health issue,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Jerold Mande. “With a little bit of planning and some common sense decision-making, people can make sure they have access to safe food and water even in the aftermath of severe storms.”

So how can you keep food safe when a storm knocks out the power? Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer, for starters. If you live in an area that often encounters severe weather, make sure you have coolers on hand and know where you can get dry and block ice.

Once the storm passes, it may take a while for power to be restored so resist temptation and keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible so the cold air does not escape. If the refrigerator door stays closed, the food inside can last safely for up to four hours. If the food still has ice crystals or is 40°F or colder when checked with a thermometer, it is safe to refreeze. Never taste it to determine its safety! A useful tip: Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for two days.

Flood waters often come with tropical storms and hurricanes. Unfortunately they bring the always present bacteria. Throw out food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance it has come into contact with flood water as well as other wooden or plastic kitchen equipment and utensils – don’t forget to throw out baby bottle nipples and pacifiers. You can wash other metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils with hot soapy water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by soaking them for 15 minutes in a mixture of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water. You may be able to save undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and retort pouches by following our easy to follow tips.

Whether you have food in the refrigerator, freezor or cooler, including packaged goods and water, it is always better to be safe than sorry, so when in doubt, throw it out! FSIS has more tips to keep your food safe before, during and after a storm. Visit the FSIS fact sheet for all of the details and remember to Ask Karen , our virtual representative is available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

Check out our information on food safety during a power outage and hurricane preparedness and share the public service announcement, Podcasts in English and Spanish as well as the American Sign Language videocasts.