There are few papers on sushi consumption and its role in methylmercury exposure. We interviewed 1289 people in a New Jersey university community regarding fish and sushi consumption and collected ‘sushi’ samples for total mercury analysis from New Jersey stores and supermarkets and from New York City, and Chicago. The 92% of interviewees who ate fish, ate an average of 5.06 fish and fish-sushi meals/month; 77% of interviewees reported eating sushi (mean = 3.27 meals/month). Caucasians and Asians ate more sushi meals/month, and more sushi pieces/meal than other ethnicities, with East Asians eating more than South Asians. Some people in all ethnic groups ate more than 40 fish-sushi pieces/ month. Total mercury levels varied significantly by type and quality of sushi, with tuna sashimi having the highest mean levels (0.68 ± 0.05 μg/g = ppm on wet weight basis equivalent to about 0.61 ppm of methylmercury). Tuna roll averaged 0.46 ± 0.09 ppm of total mercury. Other types of sushi averaged less than 0.06 ppm total mercury. Eight interviewees reported eating fish or fish-sushi meals at least daily. We estimated mercury exposure at the 90th percentile of fish-sushi consumption, assuming an average 19.3 g of fish per piece of sashimi grade tuna (averaging 0.608 ppm MeHg), using the USEPA recommended default body mass of 70 kg and the Reference Dose of 0.1 μg/kg/day. The methylmercury intake was estimated at 0.34 μg/kg/day which exceeds the EPA Reference Dose. The top 10% of all ethnic groups exceeded the Reference Dose while Caucasians and Asians exceeded the CDC/ATSDR’s Minimal Risk Level of 0.3 μg/kg/d, as well as the WHO Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake (1.6 μg/kg). The large tuna such as Bluefin, which are prized for sushi, have the highest mercury levels and are also the most endangered by overfishing. These data suggest that sushi can pose a significant risk from mercury exposure
USDA Food Safety Tips for Areas Affected by Severe Storms
WASHINGTON, December 6, 2013—The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing food safety recommendations for those affected by the weather system moving across the Rockies to the Ohio Valley. Power outages that result from weather emergencies compromise the safety of stored food, but there are steps that can minimize food waste and the risk of foodborne illness.
Keep appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure temperatures remain food safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40°F or lower in the refrigerator, 0°F or lower in the freezer.
Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers prior to a storm. These containers are small enough to fit in around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold. Remember, water expands when it freezes so don’t overfill the containers.
Freeze refrigerated items, such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately—this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
Know where you can get dry ice or block ice.
Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours.
Group foods together in the freezer—this ‘igloo’ effect helps the food stay cold longer.
Avoid putting food outside in ice or snow, because it attracts wild animals or could thaw when the sun comes out.
Keep a few days’ worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling.
Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if the door is kept closed.
A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross contamination of thawing juices.
Use dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible during an extended power outage. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.
Steps to follow after a weather emergency:
Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.
Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.
Check frozen food for ice crystals. The food in your freezer that partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40°F or below.
Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at www.AskKaren.gov or m.AskKaren.gov on a smartphone. Mobile Ask Karen can also be downloaded from the Apple and Android app stores. Consumers can e-mail, chat with a live representative, or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from the app. To use these features from Mobile Ask Karen, simply choose “Contact Us” from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available in English and Spanish on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET.
Notes from the Field: Escherichia coli O157:H7 Outbreak Associated with Seasonal Consumption of Raw Ground Beef — Wisconsin, December 2012–January 2013
December 6, 2013 / 62(48);987-987
On January 8, 2013, the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene notified the Wisconsin Division of Public Health (WDPH) of two patients with Escherichia coli O157:H7 clinical isolates that had indistinguishable, but commonly identified, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns. The two patients were interviewed by local health departments within 1 day of the initial report. They revealed that they had eaten raw ground beef purchased from the same meat market and served as “tiger meat” or “cannibal sandwiches.” In this dish, the raw ground beef typically is served on rye bread or crackers with onions and is a traditional winter holiday specialty in certain regions of the upper Midwest. Five agencies (the Watertown Department of Health; WDPH; Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection; U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service; and CDC) investigated to determine the magnitude of the outbreak, prevent additional infections, and better understand raw ground beef consumption.
The market provided a list of 62 persons who preordered raw ground beef for the 2012 winter holiday season. A case-finding and knowledge-attitudes-practices questionnaire was administered to 53 of 62 persons included on that list, plus nine additional household members, and two persons with reported illness. A probable case was defined as diarrhea with onset occurring in a person who had been exposed in the previous 10 days to raw ground beef sold by the market during December 22, 2012–January 4, 2013. A confirmed case was an illness meeting the probable case definition in a person from whose stool E. coli O157:H7 with PFGE and multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA) patterns indistinguishable from those of the outbreak strain had been isolated.
Among 17 patients (four with confirmed and 13 with probable cases), 13 were female, and median age was 46 years (range: 1–82 years). Eight (47%) had received outpatient medical care; no hospitalizations or deaths occurred. Fourteen patients reported eating raw ground beef served as tiger meat or cannibal sandwiches during the holiday, and three had exposure to raw ground beef from cross-contamination. The market voluntarily recalled 2,532 pounds (1,148 kg) of raw ground beef on January 15, 2013. E. coli O157:H7 isolates from four patients and two raw ground beef samples (one in original packaging) collected from two households had PFGE and MLVA patterns indistinguishable from the outbreak strain.
Among respondents to the questionnaire, 55 (98%) of 56 reported consuming raw ground beef only during special occasions or winter holidays. A total of 53 (91%) of 58 were aware that consuming raw ground beef could cause illness, but only 17 (41%) of 42 thought that illness could be severe. Six of 15 (40%) patients and 28 (70%) of 40 non-ill persons said they intended to eat raw ground beef in the future.
In this same region of Wisconsin, raw ground beef served as tiger meat was associated with large (more than 50 cases) outbreaks of foodborne illness reported to WDPH during 1972, 1978, and 1994 (1–3). Despite ongoing outreach efforts addressing the dangers associated with consuming undercooked or raw ground beef, this regional holiday tradition continues to be associated with outbreaks.
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence implicated raw ground beef from the market as the source of E. coli O157:H7 in this outbreak. The rapid public health response resulted in timely case detection and likely prevention of additional cases through product recall.
Discouraging this tradition requires regional targeted consumer and retailer education to ensure understanding of the potential for severe illness associated with raw ground beef consumption. Retailers in this region should be encouraged to directly discourage their customers from consuming raw ground beef. To prevent illness, ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C), as measured with a food thermometer, before consumption.
Roels TH, Frazak PA, Kazmierczak JJ, et al. Incomplete sanitation of a meat grinder and ingestion of raw ground beef: contributing factors to a large outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infection. Epidemiol Infect 1997;119:127–34.
Congressional and Public Affairs
The Salmonella Action Planpresents a number of aggressive steps the agency will take to prevent Salmonella-related illnesses
WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2013 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today released its Salmonella Action Plan that outlines the steps it will take to address the most pressing problem it faces–Salmonella in meat and poultry products. An estimated 1.3 million illnesses can be attributed to Salmonella every year.
“Far too many Americans are sickened by Salmonella every year. The aggressive and comprehensive steps detailed in the Salmonella Action Plan will protect consumers by making meat and poultry products safer.” said Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen.
The Salmonella Action Plan is the agency’s strategy to best address the threat of Salmonella in meat and poultry products. The plan identifies modernizing the outdated poultry slaughter inspection system as a top priority. By focusing inspectors’ duties solely on food safety, at least 5,000 illnesses can be prevented each year.
Enhancing Salmonella sampling and testing programs is also part of this comprehensive effort, ensuring that these programs factor in the latest scientific information available and account for emerging trends in foodborne illness. Inspectors will also be empowered with the tools necessary to expeditiously pinpoint problems. With more information about a plant’s performance history and with better methods for assessing in-plant conditions, inspectors will be better positioned to detect Salmonella earlier, before it can cause an outbreak.
In addition, the plan outlines several actions FSIS will take to drive innovations that will lower Salmonella contamination rates, including establishing new performance standards; developing new strategies for inspection and throughout the full farm-to-table continuum; addressing all potential sources of Salmonella; and focusing the Agency’s education and outreach tools on Salmonella.
These efforts will build upon the work that USDA has done over the past several years. In 2011, USDA strengthened the performance standards for Salmonella in poultry with a goal of significantly reducing illnesses by 20,000 per year. And through the Salmonella Initiative Program, plants are now using processing techniques designed to directly reduce Salmonella in raw meat and poultry. Thanks to these innovative technologies and tough policies, Salmonella rates in young chickens have dropped over 75 percent since 2006.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Environmental Health Specialists Network (EHS-Net) announces four new publications on restaurant food handling practices that been linked with foodborne illness outbreaks in restaurant settings. These publications are on the following topics:
Ground beef handling,
Handling of leafy greens,
Chicken cross-contamination, and
Sick food workers
Food safety programs and the restaurant industry can use these findings to develop effective interventions to improve food safety in restaurants.
All EHS-Net food safety publications are accompanied by plain-language summaries of the study findings and recommendations.
Ground Beef Handling and Cooking Practices
EHS-Net did the Ground Beef Handling and Cooking Practices study because of the link between E. coli O157:H7 infections and eating in restaurants. The study describes ground beef preparation practices that could lead to cross-contamination of other foods from raw ground beef and to undercooking of hamburgers made from ground beef. Cross contamination and undercooked ground beef can lead to foodborne illness.
EHS-Net found that many restaurants prepared ground beef in ways that could lead to cross contamination or undercooking. For example, in 62% of restaurants where workers used bare hands to handle raw ground beef, workers did not wash their hands after handling it. And about 80% of managers said that they did not always use a thermometer to make sure that hamburgers were cooked to the right temperature.
This study also found that chain restaurants and restaurants with kitchen managers who are certified in food safety had safer ground beef practices than other restaurants.
Handling Practices of Fresh Leafy Greens: Receiving and Training
Foodborne illness outbreaks have been associated with fresh produce like leafy greens (such as lettuce and spinach). Restaurants’ leafy greens handling practices could contribute to foodborne illness outbreaks. EHS-Net did the Handling Practices of Fresh Leafy Greens: Receiving and Training study to learn more about how restaurant workers handle leafy greens.
EHS-Net found that many restaurants safely handle leafy greens. For example, most restaurants met the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) guidelines for rejecting shipments of leafy greens and for keeping purchase records for leafy greens. However, most restaurants did not meet FDA guidelines for refrigerating cut leafy greens at 41°F or below.
Frequency of Inadequate Chicken Cross Contamination Prevention and Cooking Practices
EHS-Net found that many restaurants did not follow FDA’s advice when preparing and cooking chicken. For example, 40% of managers said that they do not always designate specific cutting boards for use only with raw chicken. Additionally, over half of managers said that thermometers were not used to check the final cook temperature of chicken.
Food Worker Experiences with and Beliefs about Working While Ill
Sick food workers can transmit germs from themselves to the food they prepare. People who eat that food can then get sick. This is an important cause of foodborne illness outbreaks. EHS-Net did the Food Worker Experiences with and Beliefs about Working While Ill study to learn more about factors that influence restaurant workers’ decisions to work while sick.
EHS-Net found that 20% of workers said that they had worked a shift in the past year when sick with vomiting or diarrhea, which are symptoms of foodborne illness. Additionally, workers with concerns about leaving their coworkers short-staffed and losing their job if they did not come to work because they were sick were more likely to say that they had worked with vomiting or diarrhea.
Explaining the Risk of Foodborne Illness Associated with Restaurants
These four study publications are accompanied by an overview that provides perspective on EHS-Net study findings and their potential impact. It also talks about EHS-Net’s systems-based approach to evaluating food handling practices in restaurants.
EHS-Net was established to contribute to a better understanding of the causes of restaurant-related foodborne illness outbreaks and to translate that understanding into improved prevention practices. The four studies described here exemplify EHS-Net’s efforts. These studies provide valuable information about important restaurant food safety practices. This information is critical for the development of effective restaurant food safety interventions.
Let’s Talk Turkey—A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey
Fresh or Frozen?
Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.
Buy your turkey only 1 to 2 days before you plan to cook it.
Keep it stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook it. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak.
Do not buy fresh pre-stuffed turkeys. If not handled properly, any harmful bacteria that may be in the stuffing can multiply very quickly.
Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.
Keep frozen until you’re ready to thaw it.
Turkeys can be kept frozen in the freezer indefinitely; however, cook within 1 year for best quality.
See “Thawing Your Turkey” for thawing instructions.
Frozen Pre-Stuffed Turkeys
USDA recommends only buying frozen pre-stuffed turkeys that display the USDA or State mark of inspection on the packaging. These turkeys are safe because they have been processed under controlled conditions.
DO NOT THAW before cooking. Cook from the frozen state. Follow package directions for proper handling and cooking.
Allow 1¼ pounds of turkey per person.
Thawing Your Turkey
There are three ways to thaw your turkey safely — in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave oven.
In the Refrigerator (40 °F or below) Allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds
4 to 12 pounds
1 to 3 days
12 to 16 pounds
3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds
4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds
5 to 6 days
Keep the turkey in its original wrapper. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. If necessary, a turkey that has been properly thawed in the refrigerator may be refrozen.
In Cold Water Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound
4 to 12 pounds
2 to 6 hours
12 to 16 pounds
6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pounds
8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 pounds
10 to 12 hours
Wrap your turkey securely, making sure the water is not able to leak through the wrapping. Submerge your wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Do not refreeze.
In the Microwave Oven
Check your owner’s manual for the size turkey that will fit in your microwave oven, the minutes per pound and power level to use for thawing.
Remove all outside wrapping.
Place on a microwave-safe dish to catch any juices that may leak.
Cook your turkey immediately. Do not refreeze or refrigerate your turkey after thawing in the microwave oven.
REMINDER: Remove the giblets from the turkey cavities after thawing. Cook separately.
Roasting Your Turkey
Set your oven temperature no lower than 325 °F.
Place your turkey or turkey breast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.
For optimum safety, stuffing a turkey is not recommended. For more even cooking, it is recommended you cook your stuffing outside the bird in a casserole. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the stuffing. The stuffing must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.
If you choose to stuff your turkey, the ingredients can be prepared ahead of time; however, keep wet and dry ingredients separate. Chill all of the wet ingredients (butter/margarine, cooked celery and onions, broth, etc.). Mix wet and dry ingredients just before filling the turkey cavities. Fill the cavities loosely. Cook the turkey immediately. Use a food thermometer to make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.
A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook turkey to higher temperatures.
If your turkey has a “pop-up” temperature indicator, it is recommended that you also check the internal temperature of the turkey in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast with a food thermometer. The minimum internal temperature should reach 165 °F for safety.
For quality, let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving to allow juices to set. The turkey will carve more easily.
Remove all stuffing from the turkey cavities.
Timetables for Turkey Roasting (325 °F oven temperature)
Use the timetables below to determine how long to cook your turkey. These times are approximate. Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your turkey and stuffing.
4 to 8 pounds (breast)
1½ to 3¼ hours
8 to 12 pounds
2¾ to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds
3 to 3¾ hours
14 to 18 pounds
3¾ to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds
4¼ to 4½ hours
20 to 24 pounds
4½ to 5 hours
4 to 6 pounds (breast)
Not usually applicable
6 to 8 pounds (breast)
2½ to 3½ hours
8 to 12 pounds
3 to 3½ hours
12 to 14 pounds
3½ to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds
4 to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds
4¼ to 4¾ hours
20 to 24 pounds
4¾ to 5¼ hours
It is safe to cook a turkey from the frozen state. The cooking time will take at least 50 percent longer than recommended for a fully thawed turkey. Remember to remove the giblet packages during the cooking time. Remove carefully with tongs or a fork.
Optional Cooking Hints
Tuck wing tips under the shoulders of the bird for more even cooking. This is referred to as “akimbo.”
Add ½ cup of water to the bottom of the pan.
If your roasting pan does not have a lid, you may place a tent of heavy-duty aluminum foil over the turkey for the first 1 to 1 ½ hours. This allows for maximum heat circulation, keeps the turkey moist, and reduces oven splatter. To prevent overbrowning, foil may also be placed over the turkey after it reaches the desired color.
If using an oven-proof food thermometer, place it in the turkey at the start of the cooking cycle. It will allow you to check the internal temperature of the turkey while it is cooking. For turkey breasts, place thermometer in the thickest part. For whole turkeys, place in the thickest part of the inner thigh. Once the thigh has reached 165 °F, check the wing and the thickest part of the breast to ensure the turkey has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F throughout the product.
If using an oven cooking bag, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on the package.
REMEMBER! Always wash hands, utensils, the sink, and anything else that comes in contact with raw turkey and its juices with soap and water.
For information on other methods for cooking a turkey, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) www.fsis.usda.gov
Storing Your Leftovers
Discard any turkey, stuffing, and gravy left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F.
Divide leftovers into smaller portions. Refrigerate or freeze in covered shallow containers for quicker cooling.
Use refrigerated turkey, stuffing, and gravy within 3 to 4 days.
If freezing leftovers, use within 2 to 6 months for best quality.
Reheating Your Turkey
Cooked turkey may be eaten cold or reheated.
In the Oven
Set the oven temperature no lower than 325 °F.
Reheat turkey to an internal temperature of 165 °F. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.
To keep the turkey moist, add a little broth or water and cover.
In the Microwave Oven
Cover your food and rotate it for even heating. Allow standing time.
Check the internal temperature of your food with a food thermometer to make sure it reaches 165 °F.
Consult your microwave oven owner’s manual for recommended times and power levels.
As of November 19, 2013, a total of 32 persons infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O157:H7 have been reported from four states.
The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (1), California (27), Texas (1), and Washington (3).
32% of ill persons have been hospitalized. Two ill persons have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths have been reported.
The STEC O157:H7 PFGE pattern combination in this outbreak is new to the PulseNet database.
Epidemiologic and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicate that consumption of two ready-to-eat salads, Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken and Mexicali Salad with Chili Lime Chicken, produced by Glass Onion Catering and sold at Trader Joe’s grocery store locations, are one likely source of this outbreak of STEC O157:H7 infections.
On November 10, 2013, Glass Onion Catering voluntarily recalled numerous ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wrap products that may be contaminated with STEC O157:H7.
7 persons hospitalized due to red tide poisoning in Bataan
By: Philippines News Agency
November 14, 2013 9:11 AM
The online news portal of TV5
SAMAL, Bataan — “Seven persons, including a child and two women, were downed by paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) after eating sunset shell or “sulib” contaminated by red tide toxin gathered at the Manila Bay area in this town early this week……………All four victims complained of numbness of body and lips and were rushed to the district hospital in Orani town………..”
USDA Announces Additional Support to Help Schools Buy Local
WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced grants for 71 projects spanning 42 states and the District of Columbia that support the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) efforts to connect school cafeterias with local farmers and ranchers through its Farm to School program.
“In rural and urban communities across the country, Farm to School programs teach students where food comes from, while providing healthy foods that are grown locally on farms and ranches across the nation,” said Vilsack. “These programs also create new market opportunities for local farmers and ranchers interested in partnering with nearby school districts – and by helping to create an even more diverse and thriving agriculture sector, Farm to School efforts hold potential to create new jobs in rural areas.”
Selected projects will serve more than 13,000 schools and 2.8 million students, nearly 45 percent of whom live in rural communities. Projects are diverse:
Somerville Public Schools in Massachusetts will work to develop a district-wide farm to school program with community partners that focus on creating youth jobs and promoting healthy eating and physical education.
Olympia School District in Washington state will partner with two local farms to help students apply biology, American history, and horticulture skills towards farm management. The farms will grow organic produce for the school district and serve as an outdoor educational space for students.
Bayfield Regional Food Producers Cooperative in Wisconsin will overcome the obstacles of a short growing season by helping local school districts install and manage high tunnels to supplement school gardens. In addition to providing nutrient-dense hardy greens and other vegetables to the students in their lunches and snacks, the high tunnels will allow educators to implement experiential, project‐based learning in the spring and fall seasons.
Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative and Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission in Iowa will work with local farmers and a newly established food hub to boost production to meet the needs of local schools. They have set a goal with four rural school districts to increase local purchases by 200 percent.
These projects highlight the critical need for a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill now more than ever, said Vilsack. Producers need renewed and expanded access to Farm Bill programs to fuel the growing demand for local food in new markets, including school meals programs, and to increase economic opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers.
USDA Farm to School grants help schools respond to the growing demand for locally sourced foods and increase market opportunities for producers and food businesses, including food processors, manufacturers, and distributors. Grants will also be used to support agriculture and nutrition education efforts such as school gardens, field trips to local farms, and cooking classes. For a complete list of FY14 Farm to School grant recipients, please see: http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/FY_2014_Grant_Award_Summaries.pdf
USDA recently released the results of the first-ever Farm to School Census, which showed that in school year 2011-2012, school districts purchased and served over $350 million in local food, with more than half of participating schools planning to purchase more local foods in the future. School districts that missed the opportunity earlier in the year to respond can submit information regarding farm to school practices through November 30, 2013.
USDA’s Farm to School Program is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which authorized USDA to provide grants and technical assistance to help schools gain better access to local foods. It is also a core element of the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, which coordinates the department’s work on local food systems.
USDA is focused on improving childhood nutrition and empowering families to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding the availability of healthy food.
USDA’s MyPlate symbol and the resources at ChooseMyPlate.gov provide quick, easy reference tools for parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and communities.
USDA awarded $5.2 million in grants to provide training and technical assistance for child nutrition foodservice professionals and support stronger school nutrition education programs.
Collectively these policies and actions are helping to combat child hunger and obesity, while improving the health and nutrition of the nation’s children. For more information on the Farm to School program, please visit www.fns.usda.gov/farmtoschool.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).
USDA Invites You to ‘Ask Karen’ to Your Thanksgiving Meal
WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2013—With all the preparation that goes into a Thanksgiving feast, many hosts could use an extra assistant to make sure everything goes as planned. This Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is offering help through the “Ask Karen” food safety app and the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline (1-888-MPHotline).
“A delicious meal is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving holiday, and the USDA wants your meal to be as safe as it is enjoyable,” USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said. “Through the Ask Karen app and the Meat and Poultry Hotline, the USDA can help with food safety questions right when and where you need answers.”
“Karen” is the face of the Ask Karen food safety app, which contains a searchable database of nearly 1,300 questions submitted by real consumers and answers provided by the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline. “Ask Karen” is available in English and Spanish and can be downloaded for free from the iTunes and Android app stores, or accessed at AskKaren.gov. On weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET, the bilingual USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline provides live chat services through the app and also can be reached at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). On Thanksgiving Day, the Hotline will be available by phone from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET, though live chat services will not be provided through the app.
Here are some of the Thanksgiving questions that people commonly “Ask Karen,” and the responses she provides:
What is the safest way to thaw a frozen turkey?
There are three safe ways to thaw a turkey: in the refrigerator, in cold water and in the microwave. Never thaw a turkey on the counter or in other locations. It’s best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. Allow about 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey to thaw in the refrigerator. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. For more information about thawing, go to The Big Thaw.
Should I wash the turkey before cooking it?
Washing poultry before cooking it is not recommended. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces. We call this cross-contamination.
Some consumers think they are removing bacteria and making their meat or poultry safe. However, some of the bacteria are so tightly attached that you could not remove them no matter how many times you washed. But there are other types of bacteria that can be easily washed off and splashed on the surfaces of your kitchen. Failure to clean these contaminated areas can lead to foodborne illness. Cooking (baking, broiling, boiling, and grilling) to the right temperature kills the bacteria, so washing food is not necessary.
Is it safe to stuff and freeze a turkey before cooking?
Do not stuff whole poultry and freeze before cooking. If you choose to stuff your turkey, you must cook it immediately after stuffing. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey and stuffing. All poultry should reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. The center of the stuffing must also reach a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.
How do I handle leftovers safely?
Refrigerate leftovers at 40 °F (4.4°C) or below, or freeze (0 °F) ( -17.7°C) as soon as possible. Never leave food out more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if the outside temperature is above 90 °F (32.2 °C). Divide leftovers into shallow containers. This encourages rapid, even cooling. Cover with airtight lids or enclose in plastic wraps or aluminum foil. Use refrigerated leftovers within 3 to 4 days, or freeze them for longer storage.