Tips on Preventing Food Contamination This Fourth of July

Summer is here! What a perfect opportunity to get outside and enjoy the warm summer air we’ve all been craving! For some individuals, spending time outdoors could involve hiking, boating, or reading in the shade, but one thing we can all agree on, summer is the perfect time to enjoy some of our favorite foods on the grill. Whether with family, friends, or even coworkers, cooking food on the grill appears to be a popular summer activity. With summer holidays approaching, like the Fourth of July, it is important to keep your celebrations healthy and safe by following food safety tips to prevent contamination while grilling.

According to the FDA and the USDA Food Safety organizations, there are grilling food safety tips to be followed for all food types:

  • Be Clean: First, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly, especially after touching any form of raw meat. Before consumption, make sure to rinse off fruits and vegetables as there may be bacteria on the surfaces. Never rinse off raw meat as this can increase your risk of cross-contamination.
  • Separate: Keep raw meats away from other foods such as salads, dips, or fruit. Be conscientious of not using the same utensils for putting raw meat on the grill, and for taking cooked meat off the grill. Using the same utensils that touched raw meat could be covered in harmful bacteria, which can contaminate the cooked meat.
  • Temperature: Use a food thermometer to check if food is fully cooked. Sometimes grilling can give you a false impression where food looks fully cooked on the outside, but is under cooked on the inside. The recommended internal temperature for beef, pork, lamb, and veal is 145°F, ground meat is 160°F, whole poultry is 165°F, and fish is 145°F.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Lastly, make sure to be aware of how long fruits and vegetables should be cooking on the grill. Thicker cut fruits and vegetables will have to cook longer than thinner pieces. Although, fruits and vegetables do not have to reach a minimum internal temperature like meat, it is still important to cook them thoroughly.

Although grilling out in the summer can be a fun thing to do, it is important to take action and be careful in preventing the harmful spread of bacteria to our food. To learn more about additional tips and guidelines to follow when cooking various foods this summer, check out the FDA and USDA Food Safety organization websites to learn more.

Tags: , ,

Metal Detectable Products: A Critical Component in Food Safety

A critical component in food safety is the detection of contaminants. One of the worst nightmares of anyone working in food processing, is finding something in the final product that is not supposed to be there. This can cause costly product loss, clean-up and maintenance costs, and the potential for recalls and/or litigation. Even though everyone tries to prevent foreign object contamination, pieces of tools such as scrapers can break off, or items such as pens can fall into the product. To make sure that these items are caught, and that contaminated product does not make it out the door, many plants utilize metal detection devices and products.

Metal detectable products are constructed of a few different materials. They are often blue for easy visual detection. Blue is also the most common non-food color. Metal detectable products are made through a unique manufacturing process that involves the inclusion of a metallic pigment. This enables the plastic to be detected. In some objects such as earplugs, a stainless steel ball bearing is enclosed in the plug, making them detectable. A product with embedded metal is only detectable if the product piece containing the metal goes through a detector. With a product that is impregnated, the entire piece has fine metal particles throughout, making the entire piece, or parts of it, detectable.

Metal detectable calibration is an important aspect of a metal detectable program. To maintain calibration, you should periodically check calibration by passing a known calibration test tool under the unit to check for accuracy. Test tools can be made of ferrous, non-ferrous, or stainless steel and include rods, cylinders, balls, whips, cards, and more. Depending on the food being produced, machine calibration must be adjusted and set to a threshold that is determined by the company in regards to the size of contaminant they want the detector to reject. Many things affect the setting of the machine including whether the food is wet or dry, its size, and its speed. If you don’t test your calibration, the metal detector can allow larger pieces of foreign object contaminant to get through than the threshold setting, which threatens the finished product’s safety. 

Nelson-Jameson can help you start or expand your Metal Detectable program with our wide range of products. Our new Metal Detectable Flyer features 32 pages of products ranging from writing utensils and office supplies to calibration tools and scrapers. We also have metal detection and x-ray equipment from Valcour Process Technologies to help enhance your program. Request your free copy of our flyer, or visit our website to download it today!

 

Tags: , ,

Celebrating World Food Safety Day!

Food safety truly is a collective effort. From the farm to the table, ensuring food safety is a way we can reaffirm our investment in, and care of, those we are feeding. Whether you are helping in the harvest, producing and processing thousands of products a day, serving food at a local pub, or grilling for your family, food safety requires vigilance and care at all levels. Keeping this in mind, the World Health Organization, in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, are recognizing all of those interconnecting players with World Food Safety Day on June 7th.   

The celebration of World Food Safety Day is meant “to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks, contributing to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, market access, tourism and sustainable development.” When one considers how food plays into all of these areas, and reverberates across everyday life, food safety really does bind us all together.  

….and there is work to do. Though we are incredibly fortunate to have a robust and generally safe food supply, foodborne illness is a very real threat, demanding care and continued dedication. According to the WHO, “more than 600 million people fall ill and 420,000 die every year from eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins or chemicals. As for the economic price tag, according to the World Bank, unsafe food costs low-and middle-income economies alone about US$ 95 billion in lost productivity annually.”  

At Nelson-Jameson, we are proud to recognize and celebrate World Food Safety Day. Our main goal is to help our customers produce the safest and best product they can.  Every product, service, and program we offer are all designed to contribute and build up cultures of food safety 365 days a year. We are committed to working with you and the vast array of stakeholders in ensuring a safe food supply…through teamwork we can take on the challenge and together celebrate the continued path towards food safety excellence around the world.   

 

Tags: , , ,

Foam Alone: Mixed in New Quark

While whipping up a quick dinner recently, I decided to use my handy-dandy microwave to get the rice cooking portion of the meal done. Just below, the thrilling smells of cooking vegetables and fish wafted up as I did my best not to burn what was in the pan in front of me on the stove.  Feeling good about my culinary self momentarily, I casually glanced up at the microwave.  Torrents of foam cascaded out of the vessel I had put the rice in…in the end, I had cooked rice and a significant starchy mess to clean up. When on top of a freshly poured beer, a healthy level of foam can bring me great joy; in this instance, it brought me back to Earth in terms of thinking about my talents in the kitchen.  

Now, take that unfortunate incident and think about a food processing facility producing your favorite products. Foam happens in many food industry applications and processes…consider the mess, the waste, and the headache that foam could cause at an industrial level. To decrease waste, increase efficiency and yield, and keep processors focused on the food and not cleaning up huge messes, the food industry (among others) utilizes antifoams and defoamers to keep this pesky presence in check.  

The two products differ, but have similar goals in the food processing environment. For instance, Nelson-Jameson offers Magrabar® food grade antifoams from Munzing that are formulated/added directly to the food product/mixture. Antifoams should be added as a preventative measure, “prior to foam formation at a location and time as close to the foaming problem as possible.” Defoamers, instead, are ideal to take care of existing foam “before tanks or containers overflow.” In the end, these products are here to help food processors: fill containers to capacity, improve pumping and mixing (can be used with CIP processes), prevent product losses, and help to improve safety and housekeeping. 

Whether you are processing potatoes, dairy products, juices, etc., and you are having issues with foam that are hampering getting safe, quality food out of the door, check in with our Product Specialists to learn more about antifoam and defoamer applications in the food industry. In the meantime, I’m going to try heading back into the kitchen to recover my sense of culinary self-worth, but perhaps with a rice cooker in tow.  

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Stopping Cross-Contamination in its Tracks

Saint Augustine is attributed as stating: “We make a ladder for ourselves of our vices, if we trample those same vices underfoot.”  Inspiring words…and tangentially, quite useful for the food processing industry…really. Consider the threats that lurk beneath our boots, that live underfoot for us, each time we walk onto the production floor. Those small steps, unchecked and unanticipated, can result in a litany of problems for food processors. With some common-sense prevention and planning though, we can climb to new levels of food safety understanding and practice.

One of the ways we can take sure steps in approaching cross-contamination concerns, for instance, is to look at the relentless footwear contact that your production floor handles. Employees can track in a myriad of potential contaminants and unknowingly put an operation at risk each time they breeze through a doorway to a production area. The effective use of a Disinfectant Mat™ provides a significant defense against cross-contamination. As employees step onto the mats, footwear is cleaned and sanitized. This barrier can literally help stop cross-contamination in its tracks.      

Thanks to working with our great customers and suppliers across the food and beverage industries, we have collected several best practices and key insights when it comes to the utilization of disinfectant floor mats for food processing facilities. The following tips will assist your operation, and ensure full efficacy (and not to mention some convenience) when it comes to using a Disinfectant Mat as a tool to combat cross-contamination:

  • Place a mat at every entrance to processing areas.
  • If employees are bypassing Disinfectant Mats, put several together or side-by-side to cover the whole entrance so they can’t avoid them.
  • Check sanitizer concentration with test strips, which are convenient and simple. Keep a daily log or hourly log of results.
  • It is highly suggested that mats are cleaned daily (top and bottom), this could be part of the washdown process. Use pumps and buckets specifically designed for our High-Wall Disinfectant Mat.

These insights, along with several others are available in our Disinfectant Mat flyer that can be viewed here. Along with tips and insights to make using your mat as effective as possible, you will find a spectrum of products to build your sanitation program around, now at even lower prices.

Contact our product specialists today to discuss how we can help you stop contamination in its tracks at your plant. Call 1-800-826-8302 or email s.sjoman@nelsonjameson.com.