What is food safety? At a time when food recalls happen on a daily basis, consumers may easily question what food safety really means. It certainly seems like manufacturers and producers are not doing enough to keep consumers safe. Read on to find out more about food safety concerns and what you can do to prevent food poisoning in your home.
Mounting Recalls Cause Food Safety Concerns
According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, food recalls have increased 10 percent from 2013 to 2018. Meat and poultry recalls are especially on the rise, increasing 66 percent during that time. Take a look at how this affects consumers:
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that food producers recalled more than 20 million pounds of meat in 2018.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitored more than 500 recalls of non-meat food products in the same year.
- The total weight of products discarded for food safety concerns in America last year exceeded 125 million pounds.
Meat isn’t the only food pulled from grocery store shelves with startling regularity. Leafy green recalls have made headlines over several months. Deli items and breads have been in the cross hairs recently also.
At Bad Food Recall, we know better than anyone that American food recalls draw national, even international attention. Consumers deserve better than poor quality and contamination.
Preventing Food Contamination at the Production Level
About 48 million people develop foodborne illness each year. Over 100,000 of those require emergency treatment or hospitalization. Often, when companies or federal regulatory agencies detect contamination, food producers make the very expensive yet overall safer decision to recall. A voluntarily recall removes the contaminated food from circulation before any adverse events are reported.
Sometimes, widespread outbreaks of foodborne illness among consumers is what alerts agencies something may be amiss with the food supply. In these cases, unfortunately, consumers become ill and face the consequences of the bad food before a recall is made.
In either case, the brand responsible for a recall loses a little bit of consumers’ respect and trust. This is certainly the case when there is widespread illness. As is evident with so many recalls this year, consumers are more concerned than ever about food safety.
Cleaner Food through Air Treatment?
Some producers are focusing on relatively new sanitation technologies like air compressors and nitrogen generator systems. Clean air impacts every stage of food production, whether automation, packaging, harvesting, or transportation.
The theory behind air sanitation is all living organisms, even bacteria and viruses, need oxygen to survive. The most sanitary air for food production is a contaminant-free and nitrogen-heavy, containing only two percent oxygen by volume. Normally, air is about 21 percent oxygen.
Using air compressors together with nitrogen generators has been shown to create a nitrogen-rich environment that helps safeguard perishable foods from viral and bacterial contamination during transport, lowering the overall risk of foodborne illness for the consumer.
What About Food Safety at Home?
Ultimately, food producers are responsible for making sure the food that hits retail shelves is contaminant free. But, if you are serious about keeping your family safe from food poisoning, there are at-home steps you can take.
The Food Safety Four: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill
Germs that spread illness can cross-contaminate on unwashed hands, utensils, and surfaces. Wash each one with hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
When cooking or handling food, wash hands frequently, but don’t skip washing:
- After touching raw meat, poultry, seafood, or uncooked eggs.
- Prior to eating.
- After using the toilet.
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet.
- Before and after caring for anyone who is sick.
- After touching any animal, animal feed or pet food, or animal waste.
- After touching garbage or the garbage bin.
- Before and after treating a cut or wound.
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
As for washing the food itself, wash your fruits and vegetables, but skip rinsing meat, poultry, and eggs.
- Use different cutting boards and plates for produce, meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
- Use separate plates and utensils for cooked and raw foods.
- Thoroughly wash all plates, utensils, and cutting boards that touched raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs before using them again. Use hot, soapy water.
- Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from your other food while grocery shopping. Keep them isolated from other foods in the grocery bags you carry home.
- Seal raw meat, poultry, and seafood in plastic bags in the fridge at home. Freeze these items if you don’t use them within a few days.
- Store eggs in their original carton in the main part of the refrigerator, not the door.
Cooking food to a safe temperature is the only sure way to kill germs that can make you sick.
- Use a food thermometer. Visual inspection is not a reliable way to gauge doneness.
- Measure food temperature in the thickest part, taking care that your thermometer doesn’t touch, bone, fat, or gristle.
- Keep food hot (140 ̊ F or above) after cooking.
- Microwave food thoroughly (165 ̊F or above). If the package directions for cooking says, “Let stand for x minutes after cooking,” do not skip this step! Letting microwave food sit allows heat to permeate all throughout to make the entire dish hot enough to kill germs.
Keeping food cold or frozen prevents many viruses and bacteria from spreading. Bacteria that cause food poisoning multiply the fastest between 40°F and 140°F. To stop the spread of bacteria:
- Refrigerate perishable foods within two hours.
- Set the refrigerator to 40°F or below and the freezer to 0°F or below. Use an appliance thermometer to be sure.
- For any food exposed to temperatures of 90°F or more, refrigerate it within one hour.
- Put leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate them promptly to promote more efficient chilling.
- Never thaw or marinate foods at room temperature. Use the refrigerator instead.
Have Questions about Food Safety and Your Consumer Rights?
Food safety for consumers is a set of hygiene and safe storage practices. For food producers, the procedures for keeping food safe are essentially the same, but on a massive scale. The big difference is food producers can and should be held liable when their negligent food safety practices cause a consumer to become ill or die.
It doesn’t matter if a product is subject to a recall, if you are experiencing illness due to an unsafe food product, you deserve to know what your legal rights are. When consumers incur medical bills or funeral costs because of commercially produced food, they deserve compensation.
If you have questions about an unsafe food product and your legal rights, contact Bad Food Recall. Our legal professionals can help you understand and protect your legal rights. Call 1-877-534-5750 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.