Tag: Food Safety

Food Safety: Grocery Store Bags

by in Food Safety, April 22, 2012
re-usable bag
Your grocery bag may be green, but is it clean?

Many folks love their eco-friendly re-usable grocery bags. But when’s the last time you washed them? A new survey found that only 15% of Americans regularly clean their totes, putting them at a higher risk for food poisoning.

The Issue
A recent survey conducted by the Home Food Safety Program found 85% of Americans aren’t washing their re-usable grocery bags. Raw foods like meat, poultry and fish carry harmful bacteria which can linger in your totes waiting to board ready-to-eat foods like produce. The risk is even higher with the spring weather setting in as bacteria love to flourish at warm temperatures. Luckily, it’s easy to keep you and your family safe from food bugs.

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Nutrition News: Pink Slime

by in Food News, Food Safety, April 12, 2012
ground beef
Is there pink slime in this beef?

A microbiologist who worked for the USDA let the cat out of the bag about something the food industry has been doing for years. What’s your take on the food issue everyone’s talking about: pink slime?

What is Pink Slime?
Tiny traces of meat left on beef carcasses are heated, picked, then bathed in ammonia to kill off any bacteria. These meat scraps dubbed “lean finely textured beef” (aka pink slime) are then mixed with ground beef prior to packaging to bulk up portions. Until recently, pink slimed beef was gobbled down by anyone who consumed ground beef from a fast food joint, grocery store or school cafeteria.

The meat industry defends that pink slime is in fact meat. The government says these ammonia-sprayed foods are safe to eat, but that doesn’t make the chemical-treated meat any more appetizing to many consumers.

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In Your Kitchen: Counter-Top Safety

by in Food Safety, January 25, 2012
How clean are your kitchen counters?

The last place you want to get sick is your own kitchen. With poor food safety practices, your counter-top can be crawling with bacteria and viruses. Luckily, there are simple ways to prevent these bad boys from making trouble.

The Issues
It’s a basic fact that our current food supply is tainted with bacteria. Even though every egg or piece of chicken may not contain salmonella, we still need to handle food as if they do. We do many tasks on our counters from chopping veggies to cleaning raw chicken to preparing our kids’ bagged lunches. This gives the food bugs opportunities to hang out on our counter-tops. Cross-contamination and poor personal hygiene are two easy ways pathogens can get onto our counter-tops. A third way is allowing high risk foods (like raw chicken and cooked eggs) to sit on our counter-tops for a long period of time.

Here are some common examples of food safety faux pas:

  • Defrosting meat on your counter-top.
  • Not washing your hands after going to the restroom and preparing food.
  • Using the same cutting board and knife to prep raw foods like chicken and meat, then using the same area, board and knife to cut veggies for a salad.
  • Cleaning the counter-top with a wet sponge only.
  • Using the same kitchen towel to dry your hands, clean the counter-top, and then dry the dishes.
  • Someone with the flu or cold touching the counter-top where food is eaten or prepared.

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Are Bar Snacks and Cocktail Condiments Safe to Eat?

by in Food Safety, Healthy Tips, December 30, 2011

Ever seen the movie Along Came Polly? There’s a scene where Ben Stiller explains why a bowl of nuts at a bar are so disgusting. Patrons drink, go to the restroom, don’t wash their hands and dig right back into that bowl. If you think you don’t want to hit a bar with bad-news-bearing Ben Stiller, I’m pretty much the same . . . maybe worse. Here’s why:

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Is the 5-Second Rule Valid?

by in Food Safety, December 1, 2011
candy on floor
It was just on the floor for a few seconds, can you eat it?

I’ve heard of the 5-second, 10-second and even 30-second rule. You drop food on the floor and if you pick it up in time, then it’s okay to eat. Is this a safe rule to live by?

For the Love of Bacteria!
One of the most disgusting cases I’ve seen is a pacifier dropped on the New York subway floor. The mom picked it up, stuck it in her own mouth to clean and then right in the baby’s mouth. The pacifier was on the floor for about 5 seconds, but that’s enough time for bacteria to cling to food (or in this case a pacifier).

Bacteria love protein and carb-based foods that are moist and not too acidic. This includes foods like meat, chicken, eggs, dairy, cooked vegetables and cooked pasta. Once bacteria is on a food they love, they can double their number every 20 minutes—this means, one bacterium can become over 1 billion in about 10 hours, which is more than enough to get someone sick.

If you think acidic foods like lemons and tomatoes are safer foods, think again. In 2002, an outbreak of salmonella was reported from participants in the U.S. Transplant Games held at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. The culprit was thought to be Roma tomatoes.

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The Rules of Thanksgiving Food Safety

by in Food Safety, Thanksgiving, November 21, 2011
thanksgiving dinner
Safe turkey, safe fixins' = safe family.

Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season where friends, family, and loved ones gather to have one fantastic meal after another. It’s not the time to skimp on those food safety habits that can make or break the festivities. Here are some simple reminders.

Purchasing the Goodies
At the market, be sure you check the quality of all the products you buy. Look at the color, firmness, and texture of the produce and meats and don’t forget to check the expiration dates on packaged foods. Once you pay for your groceries, be sure to get them stored in the proper place immediately—refrigerator, freezer or pantry. A few extra stops on the way home is plenty of time for bacteria to have a party on your food.

Make room for your turkey—overcrowding your freezer or fridge can actually raise temperatures dangerously high and spoil your food and ruin your equipment.

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How Safe Is Your Supermarket?

by in Food Safety, Grocery Shopping, September 21, 2011

grocery store
We all buy food somewhere – from the grocery store, farmers’ market, membership clubs or specialty markets. These places must all follow food safety practices to keep food safe. Sadly, this isn’t always the case. Keep your eyes peeled for some of these frequent “ick” factors wherever you shop.

DIY Inspection
All establishments that sell food must adhere to food safety guidelines. They get inspected just like restaurants. During your next trip to the market, take a few minutes to visually inspect the premises yourself. Here are few things to take notice of:

  • Do the floors look clean?
  • Are spills being cleaned up immediately?
  • Is the canned food dusty?
  • Do the deli and other service counters appear clean?
  • Is the stock well organized?
  • Is food displayed within its expiration date?
  • Does the produce look fresh?
  • Are there signs of pests like mouse droppings or roaches?

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Food Safety News: No More Screening For E.Coli?

by in Food Safety, July 13, 2011

bacteria, e coli
Global food-borne illness outbreaks have been on the rise in recent years. So why is the U.S. considering putting an end to screening foods to make sure they’re free of some of the deadliest bacteria?

In The News
The LA Times reports the House of Representatives passed a bill last month to do away with funding for a 10-year old program that screens commonly contaminated produce for the presence of harmful bacteria. Now it’s on to the Senate.

This program has lead to nearly 20 food recalls over the last 2 years. Budget restraints and complaints of “unnecessary recalls” are being blamed for the possible reallocation of funds.

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The Food Safety Bill: What It Means For You

by in Food News, Food Safety, December 10, 2010


The Centers for Disease Control estimates that tens of millions of Americans become ill and thousands die from foodborne illnesses each year. With the rapidly increasing rate of foodborne illnesses hitting the United States, something needs to be done. That’s where the new food safety bill comes into play.

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Safety Tip: Buffet Etiquette

by in Dining Out, Food Safety, September 11, 2009

buffet safety
Buffets are everywhere these days — Sunday brunch, wedding receptions or the local chain restaurant. I just got back from a trip to Israel, and our hotel even offered breakfast and dinner buffets. Now, I’ve seen some clean and well-managed buffets before, but this place’s spread was definitely not one of them. Of course, it’s not all the restaurant’s fault. We diners can be beastly.

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