Grilling & Food Contamination

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.

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June is Dairy & Safety Month!

June is an important time of year here at Nelson-Jameson, not only is it June Dairy month, but it is also recognized as National Safety month! We find these two topics to be important in the success of our business—being a single source food, dairy, and beverage processing plant supplier. Some questions you may be pondering are, “How did these two topics become nationally recognized and what makes them so important?” and “How do they relate to Nelson-Jameson?” Here is an overview of the correlation:

Dairy Month:

June Dairy Month started out as National Milk Month in 1937 as a way to promote drinking milk, and was a way to distribute extra milk during the warm summer months. According to American Dairymen®, “This month was initially created to stabilize the dairy demand when production was at a surplus, but has now developed into an annual tradition that celebrates the contributions the dairy industry has made to the world” (June is National Dairy Month, pp. 1).

Nelson-Jameson has been an active participant in local activities throughout the Marshfield area to represent the supporting role we play in the dairy industry. The two main activities we volunteered for were the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce Dairyfest Drive-Thru Breakfast and the Marshfield Dairyfest Reverse Parade. Both activities involved volunteering directly with the community and expressing thanks to all individuals who make the dairy industry as successful as it is today.

In 1947 when Nelson-Jameson was founded, the main goal was to serve as a comprehensive resource for dairy plants. Once the founders realized their original Illinois location wasn’t ideal, it was decided to move the business to Marshfield, Wisconsin—the heart of dairy production. With roughly 7,000 dairy farms actively running throughout Wisconsin, Marshfield is a great centralized location.

Safety Month:

June Safety Month was founded by the National Safety Council (NSC) in 1996 where the goal was to increase awareness of the leading safety and health risks, and ultimately decrease the number of unintentional injuries and deaths in the United States. According to the NSC, the United States is seeing the highest number of workplace deaths since 2007. With 5,333 fatal workplace injuries in 2019, this observance is more important than ever (June is National Safety Month).

With a different topic covered each week, here is a recap of what topics were covered for this year’s National Safety Month.

Week 1 – Prevent Incidents Before They Start: Identifying risks and taking proactive safety measures to reduce hazard exposure on important topics from ergonomics to chemical management is crucial to creating a safe workplace.

Week 2 – Address Ongoing COVID-19 Safety Concerns: As the pandemic continues, employers play an important role in expanding operations and returning remote workers to physical workspaces, building trust around vaccines, supporting mental health and so much more.

Week 3 – It’s Vital to Feel Safe on the Job: Being able to be one’s self at work without fear of retaliation is necessary for an inclusive safety culture. Leading organizations focus not only on physical safety, but psychological safety as well.

Week 4 – Advance Your Safety Journey: Safety is all about continuous improvement. Whether organizationally or individually, NSC can help provide guidance for your path forward.

At Nelson-Jameson, we keep safety in the forefront of our minds everyday not only in the office, but in our distribution centers as well. Aside from Nelson-Jameson employees practicing safety in their everyday work environment, we also offer a large selection of products to help you keep your employees safe as well. From head and face protection, to protective clothing and footwear, to safety equipment and supplies, we offer products to not only protect your employees from injury, but also food products from possible contamination. Click here to download our Safety & PPE catalog, or request a printed copy of this catalog today!

Nelson-Jameson is proud to recognize both National Dairy and Safety Month. We recognize these months by showing appreciation to the important players in the dairy industry, and offering products and services to help keep your employees safe, and practicing workplace safety.

Sources:

Twin Rivers Media. (2015, April 22). June is National Dairy Month. American Dairymen®. https://www.americandairymen.com/articles/june-national-dairy-month.

VelocityEHS. (n.d.). June is National Safety Month. National Safety Council. https://www.nsc.org/work-safety/get-involved/national-safety-month.

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Soaking Up Food Safety

An essential part of any robust environmental sampling program is ensuring concise, representative samples. Without ensuring the quality of a sample, one can certainly not ensure the quality of a sampling program, or the quality of one’s product.

One of the most popular methods of surface sampling used by our customers in the food industry are sponge samplers for larger areas (swabs being used most often for smaller and harder-to-reach areas). Often composed of cellulose or polyurethane, sponge samplers are everyday essentials for our food industry customers, that help proactively mitigate against environmental contamination concerns. Though a common, daily practice in a food processing facility, it is useful to occasionally revisit sampling techniques to ensure the best representative samples are being taken by employees.

So, if you haven’t revisited your sampling best practices lately, here is what the CDC recommends for proper sampling with a cellulose sponge. Though, specifically cited in a piece regarding Bacillus anthracis, the following is a great model to consult with for sampling methodology, overall.

Cellulose Sponge Sampling Procedure:

  1. Wearing a clean pair of gloves over existing gloves, place the disposable template over the area to be sampled and secure it. If a template cannot be used, measure the sampling area with a disposable ruler, and delineate the area to be sampled with masking tape. The surface area sampled should be less than or equal to 100 in2
    (645 cm2).
  2.  Remove the sterile sponge from its package. Grasp the sponge near the top of the     handle. Do not handle below the thumb stop.
  3.  If the sterile sponge is not pre-moistened, moisten the sponge by pouring the 10 mL container of neutralizing buffer solution over the dry sponge.
  4. Wipe the surface to be sampled using the moistened sterile sponge by laying the widest part of the sponge on the surface, leaving the leading edge slightly lifted. Apply gentle but firm pressure and use an overlapping ‘S’ pattern to cover the entire with horizontal strokes.
  5. Turn the sponge over and wipe the same area using vertical ‘S’ strokes.
  6. Use the edges of the sponge (narrow sides) to wipe the same area using diagonal ‘S’ strokes.
  7. Use the tip of the sponge to wipe the perimeter of the sampling area.
  8. Place the head of the sponge directly into a sterile specimen container. Break off the head of the sponge by bending the handle. The end of the sponge handle, touched by the collector, should not touch the inside of the specimen container. Securely seal and label the container (e.g., unique sample identifier, sample location, initials of collector, and date and time sample was collected).
  9. Place the sample container in a re-sealable 1-quart plastic bag. Securely seal and label the bag (e.g., sample location, data and time sample was collected, and name of individual collecting the sample). Specimen containers and re-sealable bags may be pre-labeled to assist with sampling efficiency.
  10. Dispose of the template, if used.
  11. Remove outer gloves and discard. Clean gloves should be worn for each new sample.

Nelson-Jameson offers a wide variety of environmental sampling supplies to help you keep your program in top order. You can check out our Environmental Testing Solutions webpage here. We also have a new collection of scrub samplers from 3M™ to peruse here, that feature a metal detectable stick and a 96 hour hold time. For more information on environmental sampling, contact one of our product specialists today!

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012, January 30). CDC – Surface sampling procedures for Bacillus anthracis spores from smooth, non-porous surfaces – NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topic. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/emres/surface-sampling-bacillus-anthracis.html#.

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It’s Getting Hot in this Processing Environment!

Summer is approaching and that means temperatures are rising and it’s going to start getting HOT! For most of us summer and warm temperatures correlate with going to the beach, having a picnic, or enjoying the outdoors for the few months of warm weather we have (at least here in Wisconsin!), but one idea we want to make sure doesn’t get forgotten is staying hydrated, and this includes during work hours too!

Fluids, electrolytes, and heat stress products are our friends all year round, but especially on those pesky, humid summer days at work. Depending on the processing facility, temperatures can easily reach 100°F+ on a hot summer day. These high-temperatures can be dangerous, and could lead to severe injury such as heatstroke and heat exhaustion, if a person is not properly hydrating. Hydrating regularly, and staying cool has many added health benefits associated with it that can help the body daily, this includes: keeping our skin healthy, optimum digestion, eliminates toxins in the body, and optimize the energy produced through our cells (Choi, pp. 6).

Many individuals are not aware of how important staying hydrated is, especially during the workday. A recent survey was conducted on how much financial loss is estimated in decreased productivity each year due to employee dehydration. The recorded amount was $2.5 billion (Choi, pp. 10). To avoid these situations, employers should take advantage of workplace hydration program for employees, and provide heat stress products when needed.

Nelson-Jameson offers a variety of products that can help your business stay running efficiently, and keep your employees hydrated and healthy. Sqwincher™ drink mixes provide the optimal combination of fluids and electrolytes to keep your employees hydrated. They are perfect for hot, humid food processing environments. In addition to thirst quenchers, we also have Heat Stress Products, which contain unique water-activated cooling crystals. All employees need to do is immerse the bandana, neck wrap, or hard hat liner in cold water for 5 to 15 minutes, and it will keep them cool all day. Another option is a cooling vest. The Radians Arctic Radwear® Cooling Vests are made with Advanced ARCTIC™ Technology that uses a unique 3-layer fabric system which absorbs, stores, and releases water to keep your body temperature cool and safe. You just immerse the vest for 1 to 2 minutes, wring, and wear.

Make sure to help keep your employees hydrated and cool this summer! With temperatures increasing everyday, it’s important to keep these products on hand, to help your employees stay safe and healthy.

Sources:

Choi, J. (2017, October 27). Why It’s Important To Drink More Water At Work. Lifehack. https://www.lifehack.org/639312/why-its-important-to-drink-more-water-at-work.

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Nelson-Jameson Does That, Too?

As an employee of Nelson-Jameson for seven years now, I am continuously impressed with the number of projects and developing capabilities that are in process. All of these undertakings are done with one aim in mind: to help our customers create safe, quality food in the most efficient way possible. With this in mind, we actively seek out services, above and beyond our products and programs, to holistically meet our customer’s needs. Here are just a few of the programs that we offer, that you may not be aware of: 

Lab Design & Furniture: Yes, you read that right! We partner with PSA Lab Furniture to offer lab design and lab furniture services. Through this partnership, we are able to offer free design plans and estimates for your next lab revamp or new lab construction. We’re talking hoods, surface tops, cabinets, etc. Coupled with our wide range of lab instrumentation, equipment, and suppliers, we can help you build a lab from the ground up. Our lab and sales team can help you learn more at lab@nelsonjameson.com.    

Biofilm Audit and Treatment: If you have recurring hygiene and contamination issues, biofilms could be the culprit. Well known for their tenacity, biofilms can cause major headaches for processors, not to mention serious potential food safety issues. We work with Realzyme to provide in-person biofilm audits in your facility of OPC and CIP installations. The pros at Realzyme will then create a customized curative treatment to combat any biofilms present. Finally, you’ll receive a preventative treatment program, ensuring productivity, product quality, and bonus, you’ll see extended shelf lives for your products. Talk to your Account Manager today to help check into availability and rates, or email us at p.puttkamer@nelsonjameson.com for more information! 

Hand Hygiene Training:  Working with one of our strategic partners, Best Sanitizers, we can help your employees learn more about a key frontline effort for ensuring food safety -proper handwashing techniques. Best Sanitizers does a phenomenal job educating and allowing your employees to see the realities of improper handwashing, including cross-contamination concerns. The comprehensive training includes an informational session, handwashing demonstration featuring Glo-Germ® products, a Q&A session, and a certification for those individuals taking part. Drop us an email at j.pankratz@nelsonjameson.com to check into training availabilities.

Kaestner Services: Our sister company, Kaestner is your go-to for preventative maintenance services for the food, dairy, and beverage processing industries. Specializing in sanitary valve and actuator services, sanitary gasket plate heat exchanger services, as well as sanitary pump services, Kaestner’s team is on the ground and keeps operations moving. Contact Kaestner at sales@kaestnerllc.com to check on availability in your area!

If any of the above services were a surprise to you, well, buckle up, because this is just the start! Nelson-Jameson can help you with color-coded program audits, ingredients selection, sanitation chemical optimization, packaging trials, and many other services. Touch base with us today and let’s find the right comprehensive solutions for your operation.

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