Tag Archives: foodborne illness

September is Food Safety Education Month!

September is Food Safety Education Month! According to the FDA, the importance of food safety is learning and educating others on taking an active role in preventing foodborne illnesses. Every year an estimated 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from eating contaminated food. Below are some tips, provided by the CDC, that you can take advantage of at home to keep you and your family safe from these illnesses.

Clean: Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces. This step is important to do before, during, and after cooking to help prevent cross-contamination of harmful bacteria.

Separate: Make sure to separate your raw meats from your produce to prevent cross-contamination as well. Raw meats normally carry many different pathogens such as salmonella, E.coli, listeria monocytogenes, etc. Like you and I, many animals naturally carry bacteria in their bodies when alive, so after an animal is slaughtered, the bacteria within their intestines can easily be converted onto the meat itself.

Cook: Use a food thermometer to ensure the food you are preparing is being cooked to the correct temperature, this is to ensure that all germs are being killed before consumption.

Chill: Bacteria can multiply quickly within perishable foods if they are being stored in room temperature, so it is important to refrigerate perishable foods within two hours after use.

Another tidbit that I wanted to touch on that I think is relevant for many families, is how to keep your bagged lunches safe from these illnesses as well. I know from personal experience, during my morning commute to work, it can be hard to keep my bagged lunch, cold. A helpful tip to get around this dilemma is to include at least two cold sources to keep the food chilled while it is not being refrigerated. Whether it’s an ice pack, or a frozen water bottle, place one source on top of the food, and one on the bottom to ensure your food is the same temperature throughout. Once at work, place your food in the refrigerator/freezer. If food is in an insulated lunchbox, unzip the top and leave the lid open. This will chill your food faster versus the lunchbox being closed.

At Nelson-Jameson, we take food safety very seriously, and value our role in the food supply chain—providing food processing facilities with the products and services they need to produce safe, quality food. For more information on Nelson-Jameson’s role in the food supply chain, click here.

 

Sources:

Fong, Fiona. “Bacteria in Raw Meat vs. Cooked Meat.” Bacteria in Raw Meat vs Cooked Meat, 1 Sept. 2017,
www.cfs.gov.hk/english/multimedia/multimedia_pub/multimedia_pub_fsf_130_02.html.

“Food Safety Education Month.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 Aug. 2020, www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/education-month.html.

Keeping “Bag” Lunches Safe, United States Department of Agriculture, 16 Aug. 2016, www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/keeping-bag-lunches-safe/ct_index/!ut/p/a1/jVHRTsIwFP2aPXYtDAn4tiwxgDIkRCl7Id121zaMdmk7UL_eMnxQA0rvS3vuOTm95-IMU5wpdpCcOakVq0_vbLglSzLsjRMyW4x7D2Savi4Xj0lCRqs7T9j8QUijG_VXTkz-089uMOibeTLnOGuYE0iqSmPKwSGm7BGMxbTSukSWVeDeUcUKh6w
AcL5xwlDXFUyVtVQc0x1A4y8oZxzVrSoE2E6LaeG2UpXwhtc4-_kr0vM1TaPVYDJLI7IY_CZciO1MuJ6LH5zXOu92tIlVHo38hAYqMGDC1nhYONfY-4AE5CiLozY7G1bKhq0tWcj1ISAGrG5NATYgfV9IfW0dfQ8EyrbocLTXyolLbkJbh-lFE9zsX-jHUzwh8nm_Htn4E5BY1es!/.

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On the Frontlines Against Hepatitis A

Wash. Your. Hands. This simple act can do so much to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria. Lately, this has been highlighted most unwelcomingly with a continued outbreak of the hepatitis A virus nationally. The virus, which infects the liver, can cause symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, vomiting, etc. that may last weeks to months.  

According to the FDA, though only representing a portion of cases in the US, cases from food handling are a significant concern for food industry stakeholders and consumers, as well: “The majority of hepatitis A infections are from unknown causes or from being in close contact with an infected person; however, some hepatitis A infections are caused by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Contamination of food and water can occur when an infected food handler prepares food without appropriate handwashing hygiene.” From handling food in the fields to the food service counter, hepatitis A should be considered a serious foodborne threat…but one that can be combated.    

In terms of foodborne cases, hand hygiene is a key method of defending against the virus (vaccination is the best way to prevent, overall) for the food industry and for consumers. According to the CDC, “Frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A.”

As part of our commitment to helping customers make safe, quality food, we offer an array of hand hygiene solutions for the food and beverage industries. To check out our latest Hand Hygiene Products flyer, click here. Our product specialists are also available to help you develop the right program to make hand hygiene a frontline defense against foodborne illness.

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Your Safe, Quality Food is our Business

Nelson-Jameson takes food safety very seriously, and we know that you do too. That is why we offer a wealth of products and solutions that can help your facility reduce the risk of foodborne illness and contamination. From Color-Coding and Metal Detectable to Hand Hygiene and Environmental Testing – we have many programs available to help ensure your processing facilities are compliant, providing safe, quality food to all.

To talk to one of our food safety experts about these programs or to receive an informational flyer featuring these programs, give us a call at 800-826-8302 or visit our website today!

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Foodborne Bacteria: Do You Know How They Grow?

Food safety concerns are on all food manufacturers’ minds (and, honestly, probably in their dreams too), so it is critical to know how bacteria grow.  Armed with that knowledge, we are better able to stay ahead of bacterial contamination in the food manufacturing facilities.

Petri dish with bacteria.

Petri dish with bacteria. Source: processingmagazine.com

Often, when I was in the plant environment, I would refer back to a case study put together by the Royal Society for Public Health in 2010. It laid out some excellent basics on growth factors for bacteria in a concise manner that readers of The Wide Line may appreciate.

The RSPH states, “In order to grow, bacteria require a source of nutrients, an appropriate atmosphere, neutral or alkaline conditions, available moisture and an appropriate temperature. (In turn), the nutrient source needs to have available moisture, a source of energy, nitrogen, vitamins, and minerals.” A large number of bacteria are able to grow with or without oxygen. Some bacteria (obligate aerobes), will only grow if oxygen is present. Other bacteria (obligate anaerobes) will only grow in the absence of oxygen.

The RSPH’s “Growth Requirements of Bacteria” section continues: “Most bacteria grow best in a neutral or alkaline environment. Bacteria do not grow well in foods which are too acidic (with a pH of less than 4.5).”  So, the more acidic the food, the less likely it is to support the growth of bacteria.  In addition, foods that are dried or high in salt or sugar have a reduction in available moisture content, and bacteria will grow poorly on these foods.

Finally, “Most bacteria will not grow in cold conditions, or will only grow and divide slowly. High temperatures will also inhibit the growth of bacteria.”  For example, most food poisoning bacteria die when exposed to a temperature of 70°C for two minutes or more. The optimum temperature range for the growth of most bacteria is 5°C to 63°C, which is known as the ‘temperature danger zone’.

The RSPH concisely acknowledges that there are multiple areas in all food production facilities that need to be assessed for risk regularly, as well as monitored daily in order to prevent microbiological product contamination. All processing steps have the potential to increase the chance of microbial corruption.  Nelson-Jameson carries food safety products that assist with control and surveillance in every step of the production process—from ingredient receiving through manufacturing, storage, and shipping of finished products.  Contact a sales representative today to find out how Nelson-Jameson can help strengthen your food safety prevention and protocol.

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Testing the Water

j0444789What is the difference between water activity and water “moisture” content? Well, it all depends on what you want to achieve. Do you want to monitor the amount of water and dry matter present in a product? Or do you want to increase and monitor the shelf stability of a product?

“Water ‘moisture’ content is the amount of water contained in a product”. Measuring water “moisture” content is better used to determine quality of the process. For example, if the product is a cheese powder that is spray dried, it is common practice to measure the water “moisture” content to determine yield and to ascertain if your drying process is running according to the diagnosed plan.

Water activity is defined as the measurement of the availability of free water for biological reactions—especially the biological reactions that can make humans and animals very sick.  Water activity is more critical in the food industry. Bacteria love water; gram-negative bacteria like E.coli need a minimum of .97 moisture content for growth, and the Staphylococcal toxin produced by Staphylococcus aureus only needs a minimum of .93 for growth. To put this into perspective, know that pure water’s moisture content is 1.00. Thus, it is critical for food manufacturers to know and monitor the water activity before, during, and after manufacturing for safety. See the table below for the water activity and content levels of common foods:

Water Activity of Common Foods (aw)

fresh meats and fish:                     0.99

moist cakes:                                       0.90-0.95

soy sauce:                                           0.80

jams, marmalades, jellies:            0.75-0.80

dried spices, milk powder:           0.20-0.60

Water Content of Common Foods (%)

apples:                 84

peppers:              92

salami, beef       60

dried fruit            31

wheat flour        11

Water activity is crucial to food safety. Microbes are everywhere, and will find any way possible to a food source, ultimately causing spoilage. Moisture analysis monitoring processes are set up to eliminate as many microbes as possible, with the key to moisture control and water activity being to find ways to bind the water so that it doesn’t allow microbes to find a food source—thus extending a product’s shelf life. Contact one of Nelson Jameson’s product specialists today to discuss your moisture analysis and water activity needs.

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