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Posts Tagged ‘Food safety’

On the political scene, today is Super Tuesday. Numerous states will hold primaries to vote on the potential Republican candidate. Whether you consider yourself red or blue, right or left, few of us think about the impact upcoming elections have on our very substance of life—the food we eat. Politics affects many aspects of our food. Elected officials hold sway over availability, safety, and even the healthfulness of what goes into our mouths. What can consumers expect this year?

According to Marion Nestle, nutrition and public policy expert, political leaders are likely to avoid or postpone any issues that may threaten corporate interests.

  • Expect fewer regulations as corporations enjoy carte blanche with public health issues.
  • Expect strong opposition and division over budget cuts or increases in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Food Stamp Program. SNAP benefits cost 72 billion in 2011. Supporters struggle to keep the program’s benefits while others promote offerings of more healthful foods.
  • Look for continued fights about food marketing and it effect on childhood obesity. Issues at stake include taxes on unhealthy foods and beverages, front-of-package labeling, and programs to discourage consumptions of sugar-sweetened drinks. The food industry prefers to set its own standards and list positives of products instead of negatives such as warnings on calories, saturated and trans fat, sodium and sugars. The industry will continue to press Congress to block any efforts at control.
  • Observe continued stalemates on food safety issues. Currently, government agencies inspect less than two percent of imported foods and five percent of domestic productions. Small producers feel threatened as easier targets than the mega-producers who have been responsible for many deadly food-related outbreaks.
  • Watch for momentum in food movements. The number of farmer’s markets has exploded, more young people have gone into farming, more interest has surfaced in farm-fresh foods for school lunches, and grassroots community efforts have implemented food programs and legislated local reforms.

Government guidelines and regulations affect all Americans. But don’t expect much to happen until after the November 2012 elections.

 

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I retrieved from the back recesses of my refrigerator a flavored yogurt mingled among other recently purchased cartons. My chosen yogurt had expired many months earlier. Even as we attempt to keep and eat safe food, occasionally some item gets missed.

September is National Food Safety Education Month. This marks the seventeenth year for the month-long campaign to increase food-safety awareness. Although focused on restaurants and the foodservice industry, the same safe practices apply at home.

Food Insight1, reported that those aged twenty to twenty-nine had the safest food preparation practices. Those safe practices peaked at mid-life and diminished with age. The dissimilarities of older adults required targeting education to specific populations, namely those with underlying chronic illnesses and those living alone who prepared their own food.

After a major E.coli outbreak in 1993, food-handling habits for young people seemed to improve when exposed to food-safety messages at school. Teaching young and school-aged children to wash their hands decreased chances of ingesting harmful bacteria. As this group grew to young adults and started families, they recognized the health impact of contaminated food. Positive behavioral changes protected their children. Even so, the Center for Disease Control reported a high rate of hospitalizations of very young children (under age three) due to foodborne infections.

Food Insight2 also suggested four areas for home inspections and practices:

  • Proper Food Handling: Frequent hand washing lowers the spread of bacteria.
  • Clean and Sanitized Surfaces: To reduce the risk of cross-contamination, use separate cutting boards for raw meats and ready-to-eat foods such as fruits, vegetables, and breads. Wash and sanitize surfaces before and after preparation, especially meats.
  • Storage of Food: Perishable leftover foods need refrigerating within two hours. Label containers with the contents and date. Discard after three to four days.
  • Utensils and Equipment: Meats cooked to appropriate internal temperatures as determined by a meat thermometer lessen risks for foodborne illnesses.

Keep you and your family safe from tainted foods. Follow these simple rules to protect your household against foods that may cause illness.

1 http://www.foodinsight.org/Newsletter/Detail.aspx?topic=Partnership

 2 http://www.foodinsight.org/Newsletter/Detail.aspx?topic=National_Food_Safety_Education_Month

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