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Three Ways USDA Helps Consumers Keep Foods Safe

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

July is the height of summer grilling season, and throughout the month USDA is highlighting changes made to the U.S. food safety system over the course of this Administration. For an interactive look at USDA’s work to ensure your food is safe, visit the USDA Results project on Medium.com and read Chapter Seven: Safer Food and Greater Consumer Confidence

Have you ever wondered how to safely grill your burgers? How about determining the latest food safety recalls?  USDA provides a number of resources to ensure that you have access to the most up to date information on food safety.

Keeping the food on America’s tables safe to eat is a serious challenge and USDA is serious about helping families avoid dangerous bacteria and other contaminants that can lead to foodborne illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in six Americans are likely to become ill from foodborne illness each year, but most of these illnesses are thought to be preventable. That’s why USDA provides a number of tools consumers can use in order to prevent or reduce the risk of foodborne illness that would spoil the meal.

Beef Retailers Now Labeling Mechanically Tenderized Beef

This summer and grilling season – which unofficially kicks off in less than two weeks with Memorial Day weekend – American shoppers will see an important new label on some steak packages. Beginning May 17, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service started requiring meat processors to disclose a common practice known as mechanical tenderization and provide safe cooking instructions so their customers know to handle these products carefully.

Product tenderness is a key selling point for beef products. To increase tenderness, some cuts of beef are tenderized mechanically by piercing them with needles or small blades in order to break up tissue. This process takes place before the beef is packaged but can also occur at the grocery store’s butcher counter, at a restaurant, or in the home. The blades or needles can introduce pathogens from the surface of the beef to the interior, making proper cooking very important. However, mechanically tenderized products look no different than product that has not been treated this way, so without disclosure on the label, consumers may not know about this higher food safety risk.

Protecting Your Family from Food Spoilage

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

What happens to foods when they spoil and are they dangerous to eat? What causes foods to spoil and how? These are questions we often get on USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline. Read on to learn the science behind food spoilage.

Do YOU Have a Plan to Keep Food Safe during Severe Weather?

This year has been an important reminder that disaster can strike anytime and anyplace.  Nearly every region of the country experienced some form of extreme weather event, including wildfires in California, extreme cold and snow through the Midwest and East, and destructive tornadoes in the South and Central Plains.

All of these events resulted in the loss of power for hundreds of thousands, and without power comes food safety challenges.  The temperature and sanitation of food storage areas is crucial to preventing bacterial growth, and severe weather and other emergencies can compromise this.  Knowing what to do in these instances can minimize the need to throw away food and the risk of getting sick.

SAVE Money by Knowing When Food is Safe

Stop! Don’t throw that food away! It might be safe to use, and that will save you money. According to USDA’s Economic Research Service, each American wastes more than 20 pounds of food every month. That’s about $115 billion worth of good food thrown away every year at the consumer level in the U.S. Top food group wasted by value is meat, poultry and fish.

While the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline would never advise you to eat unsafe food, we don’t want you to throw away safe food and lose money.

Wolverine Packing Company Recall: What Consumers Need to Know

You may have heard about the FSIS announcement this week that the Wolverine Packing Company in Detroit, MI was recalling 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.  This recall is linked to 11 patients in four states.  I wanted to provide an update on what FSIS is doing based on the evidence available.

FSIS was notified of the first illness on May 8 and immediately began working with our partners at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find the source of these illnesses.  Based on the initial findings in the investigations, FSIS and CDC were able to establish a direct link to ground beef products supplied by Wolverine Packing Company.

'Primera Jugada' - Puntos de Alimentos Inocuos para su Fiesta del Super Bowl

Para poder ganar el partido, las jugadas tienen que ocurrir sin infracciones. Además, el domingo del Super Bowl es el segundo día más alto del consumo de alimentos en los Estados Unidos. Esto quiere decir que el anfitrión e invitados tienen que tener sus defensas listas para prevenir que la intoxicación alimentaria no marque puntos contra su equipo.

Este año asegure que las fiestas del Super Bowl sean recordadas por los buenos tiempos y no con excusas de no haber dado tu equipo la mejor oportunidad de ganar la lucha contra la intoxicación alimentaria.

First Down Food Safety Tips for your Super Bowl Party

In order to win the game, the first downs have to keep coming without the penalties. Super Bowl Sunday will be a long day of first downs and a long day of eating! It’s the second highest day of food consumption in the U.S., and that means hosts and guests need to have their defense ready to keep foodborne illness from scoring on the party.

Super Bowl parties should be remembered for a great time and not the place where the food made you sick. We’re offering fans some important game day tips to keep the party free of food safety penalties.

Super Bowl, Slow Cookers, and Food Safety: An Unbeatable Team

Most of the year, my slow cooker stays on the shelf in my kitchen, but, when the Super Bowl approaches, I pull it out to make chili, meatballs, or other hot party foods. The thing that I love about a slow cooker is that it can cook food safely and help me save time while I’m busy preparing for the big game.

This time of year, the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline receives lots of questions related to slow cooking. Sometimes we hear about really scary mistakes that people make when they’re preparing slow cooked food. To make sure that you and your party guests stay safe, I wanted to share a few of these slow cooker questions and answers.

El Super Bowl, las Ollas de Cocción Lenta, e Inocuidad Alimentaria: Un Equipo Invencible

Por la mayoría del año, mi olla de cocción lenta se queda guardada en un anaquel en mi cocina. Pero, cuando se acerca el día del Super Bowl, la saco y empiezo a cocinar chili con carne, albóndigas u otras comidas calientes de fiesta. Lo que me más gusta de mi olla es que puede cocinar los alimentos inocuamente y a la misma vez me permite ahorrar tiempo cuando me ocupo preparándome para el gran juego.

Durante esta época del año, La Línea de Carnes y Aves del USDA recibe muchas preguntas acerca de las ollas de cocción lenta. A veces escuchamos historias de errores espantosos que cometen personas cuando están preparando alimentos por cocción lenta. Para asegurar que usted y sus invitados estén fuera del riesgo de intoxicación de alimentos, aquí tienen algunas preguntas comunes con las respuestas correspondientes.