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Current Issues in Food Sanitation

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  1. Current Issues in Food Sanitation Presented to University Safety Council April 18, 2007 Curt Speaker, EHS

  2. Foodborne Illness • Results from eating food contaminated with bacteria (or their toxins) or other disease-causing organisms such as parasites or viruses. • Symptoms range from upset stomach to diarrhea, fever, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and dehydration.

  3. Foodborne Illness - statistics • Most foodborne illnesses are undiagnosed and unreported • CDC estimates that every year about 76 million people in the US become ill from pathogens in food. • Of these, about 5,000 die

  4. Foods of Concern • Any food can be a vehicle for fooodborne illness • High protein foods are most often responsible for foodborne illness • Includes milk & milk products, eggs, meats, poultry, seafood (fish, shellfish, crustaceans), cooked potatoes, tofu and other soy-protein foods, heat-treated plant foods, raw seed sprouts

  5. Foodborne Illness Outbreaks • In the past, most outbreaks were associated with improper food processing, preparation or storage • Recently, outbreaks have been associated with contamination at the source • Green onions – Hepatitis A • Spinach – E. coli • Peanut butter - Salmonella

  6. The Food Safety Thermometer

  7. Trends • The “nationalization” of food distribution has made widespread outbreaks of foodborne illness much more likely • Locally grown produce is not likely to be safer than national brands due to limited processing and cleaning • Food irradiation is still meeting with resistance from some consumer groups

  8. Prevention • Clean • Separate • Chill • Cook

  9. Current Topics in Food Sanitation • Produce Cleanliness • Food Irradiation • Food Preparation and Process Engineering • What PSU is doing • Take Home Lessons

  10. Cleaning Produce • Produce may be contaminated: • Physically (dirt) • Chemically (pesticides) • Biologically (bacteria, viruses) • A 1996 report by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that pesticides are consumed at such low levels that they pose little threat to human health • The benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables far outweigh any pesticide-related risks

  11. Cleaning Produce • Bleach, detergent or soaps should not be used; they are not food-grade and may cause more harm than good • Wash produce under cold running water to remove residual dirt • Firm fruits and vegetables can be scrubbed with a brush if additional cleaning is needed

  12. Cleaning Produce • Specially made fruit and vegetable washes may be of some value in removing dirt and pesticide residues from items that are purposely waxed, such as cucumbers, apples and oranges • No evidence to suggest that organic produce is any safer; same risk of microbial contamination

  13. Food Irradiation • Food Irradiation is not a new phenomena • Wheat flour was first approved for irradiation in 1963 to control mold growth • Potatoes were approved in 1964 to prevent sprouting • Spices have been irradiated since 1986 to sterilize them

  14. Typical Food Irradiator

  15. Benefits of Food Irradiation • Disease-causing germs are reduced or eliminated • Food does not become radioactive • Dangerous substances do not appear in the foods • The nutritional value of the food is essentially unchanged

  16. Disadvantages of Food Irradiation • Not all pathogens are eliminated • Not particularly effective against viruses (at current doses) • Some high risk foods do not irradiate well • Some fresh produce becomes mushy • (Live) shellfish are killed by irradiation • Egg whites become milky • Slight reduction in vitamin content

  17. Food Irradiation Symbol

  18. Food Preparation and Process Engineering • Servesafe is a food sanitation program based on HACCP (Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points) • HACCP was originally developed by NASA to prevent foodborne illness in astronauts while in space • Looks at food preparation as a process with essential steps where sanitation must be controlled

  19. Moving Forward • Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) is an extension of the HACCP idea into the growing, picking and processing of produce and other agricultural materials which emphasizes personal hygiene & sanitation, food security, sustainability and integrated pest management on the farm

  20. What PSU is Doing • All full-time food service employees (managers, cooks, dishwashers) are trained in SERVESAFE and recertify every 5 years • Has specifications for produce providers • Certain countries excluded due to use of pesticides and/or handling practices • Transportation requirements (no co-shipment with chemicals, refrigeration temperatures, closed trucks)

  21. What PSU is Doing • Food Science Dept. and Extension provide numerous SERVESAFE courses throughout the state • Also have numerous publications on proper handling of game meats, home canning and preservation • EHS-lead foodborne illness committee established to evaluate allegations of illness from PSU eateries and dining halls

  22. What PSU is Doing • University Policy AD-26 limits student food sales event to: • Materials prepared by PSU HFS • Products that do not require refrigeration • Foods that are prepackaged for resale • List of approved caterers for University events (at all locations) that have adequate liability insurance

  23. Take Home Lessons • Keep temperature requirements in mind for pot lucks and food events • Crock pots or chaffing dishes for hot foods • Ice baths or coolers for cold foods • Do not keep foods at room temperature for more than 2 hours • Even properly prepared foods will go bad if mishandled

  24. Take Home Lessons • Make sure that food purchased for College or Departmental functions (either from PSU Food Services or from a caterer) is handled appropriately • Have appropriate equipment to maintain hot or cold foods at the appropriate temperature(s)

  25. Take Home Lessons • At home, follow proper procedures when canning meats, fruits and vegetables • Adjust salt and acid levels as needed • Purge your fridge of leftovers on a periodic basis • When in doubt, throw it out! • For hunters, follow appropriate cleaning and dressing practices with game

  26. Current Events • The current pet food poisoning incident represents a slightly different aspect of this problem • Foreign materials found in cat and dog food include aminopterin (a rat poison and cancer treatment drug) and melamine (a material used in the manufacture of plastics) • Foodborne illness is not just a people problem!

  27. Current Events • In September of 2006, several individuals in Georgia and Florida came down with foodborne botulism from unrefrigerated carrot juice • Juice not heat-processed • Has low acidity (pH~6) • Low salt • Conditions listed above coupled with warm temperatures allowed bacteria to grow and produce botulism toxin

  28. The Bottom Line… • The food supply in the United States is very safe • Proper handling and storage of foodstuffs can further reduce the risk of potential foodborne illness • More control and inspection of at-risk foods throughout production and distribution can also help

  29. What if…

  30. …it Happened to a Hollywood Icon?

  31. The End Questions?