|Food Safety and Inspection
United States Department of Agriculture
Washington, D.C. 20250-3700
A new five-year report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies Salmonella Enteritidis as a leading cause of foodborne illness and death.
The report, which covered 1988-1992, also notes more multistate outbreaks caused by contaminated produce as well as outbreaks caused by Escherichia coli O157:H7.
Because of limitations in the foodborne illness surveillance system, CDC notes that the "report should not be the basis of conclusions concerning the absolute" incidences of foodborne diseases or their causes.
Why is this? The reason is that the surveillance system reports only a fraction of the cases of foodborne disease that occur. In addition, in 59 percent of the outbreaks, the cause of the outbreak is not determined.
(Note: A new sentinel site surveillance system launched last year should provide more precise information because it will actively gather data instead of serving as a passive reporting system.)
At the same time, the current reporting system provides one of the best pictures we have for identifying problem areas and possible solutions.
Items of interest from this report include:
Once again, CDC notes that people can decrease their risks of contracting infections from S. Enteritidis by not eating eat raw or undercooked eggs. Nursing homes, hospitals and commercial kitchens should only use pasteurized egg products for all recipes requiring pooled eggs. USDA further recommends that even dishes using pasteurized eggs be thoroughly cooked.
The report was published in the CDC Monthly Morbidity and Mortality Report, Oct. 25, 1996. To access the complete report on the Internet, go to: http://www.cdc.gov/epo/mmwr/mmwr_ss.html
To get a copy of USDA fact sheets on safe handling of eggs, dial in to our FAST FAX at 1/800-238-8281 or check our Home Page at www.usda.gov/fsis.
June 12-13, 1997
That's the date of the Food Safety Education Conference.
The conference is titled "Changing Strategies, Changing Behaviors: What Food Safety Communicators Need to Know."
Sponsored by FDA and USDA, the meeting will be here in Washington, D.C.
Topics will include:
Check your mail for conference and registration information.
From novice cooks wondering how long to safely roast a chicken to more experienced foodhandlers unsure about what kind of cutting board to use, the specialists on the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline have heard it all--1 million times.
This past November, the Hotline answered its 1-millionth call, a milestone for the toll-free service which Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman termed "a vital part of USDA's consumer food safety education efforts."
Calls to the Hotline have changed through the years, according to Susan Conley, director of the Food Safety Education and Communications Staff. Conley, one of the first home economists answering calls when the Hotline started, said that in the mid-1980's, calls were more general in nature concerning safe handling of food.
"Today's callers," said Conley "ask more sophisticated questions. They frequently know the names of bacteria many people never heard of ten years ago. As the callers and their questions have changed, we've changed.
"We provide more detailed, technical information. At the same time, we keep stressing the basics of safe food handling, because consumers are still unsure about the basics."
For Bessie Berry, Hotline manager, it was fitting that the millionth call came during the Thanksgiving season.
"Traditionally," she said, "this is the Hotline's busiest time of year, with over 20 percent of the year's calls coming in this month."
Over the years, Hotline staffers have gone the distance to provide service, especially in November. "We've had Thanksgiving holidays," Berry said, "when we've been here, answering phones with our coats and gloves on because the heat's been turned off in the building!"
The Hotline can be reached by calling 1-800-535-4555, except in the Washington, D.C. area, where the number is 202-720-3333.
The service, which is TDD-accessible, is staffed by food safety specialists--including home economists, registered dietitians and food technologists. They answer calls from the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday all year round.
In addition, at nights and on weekends, consumers can call and access recorded information on a variety of topics including food storage, foodborne illness, power failures and emergencies. Recorded messages are also updated for special events such as a recall of meat or poultry products.
According to Berry, "the best part of reaching this milestone is that we really have the same interest and enthusiasm now that we did then. We're still up, we're still excited, and we're happy to be helping people."
As the specialists on the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline know, consumers' concerns and questions about food safety cover the gamut. That variety is reflected in the Hotline's latest package of feature articles distributed to the media.
Topics in the feature package include:
These articles be accessed on the FSIS Home Page: www.usda.gov/fsis.
by Cindy Roberts, USDA/FDA Foodborne Illness Education Information Center
When foodborne illness outbreaks occur, the general public, as well as health professionals, have an overwhelming number of questions--many of which could be answered by a quick trip to one of many Federal sites on the World Wide Web.
CDC's home page provides access to a number of information sources--including the widely disseminated Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) which provides case studies of foodborne illness outbreaks.
Foodborne illness statistics are always a hot topic--and you can find them through CDC. For instance, you can access CDC's new 5- year surveillance summary for 1988-1992 (see article page 1). The 70-plus-page report provides a wealth of data as well as valuable background information such as the definition of an outbreak, the history of the surveillance system and an examination of its limitations.
But there's more. For instance, you can check out fact sheets on all major pathogens, plus links to specific case studies from past issues of the MMWR. Interested? Access the Bacterial Disease/Foodborne Diarrheal Diseases Section: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/foodborn.htm.
As might be expected, the home page run by FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition is a good information resource.
Food product recall press releases are posted here and consumers can find safe food handling information. Numerous publications are available, including"Food Safety for Persons With AIDS" and the popular quiz, "Can Your Kitchen Pass the Food Safety Test?"
My favorite spot on this home page is the FDA's Bad Bug Book (real name Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins). This is a more technical treatment of the subject matter than the CDC fact sheets. Features of this online version include hypertext links to a medical library, CDC case studies and other FDA bulletins. For some entries, there are also links to a literature review, research papers and other relevant sources. This online version is much more up to date than a written version could possibly be.
This site is loaded with food safety information. In addition to regulatory information concerning meat and poultry inspection, you'll find press releases, speeches, testimony, meetings and more.
Some of the most useful sections for the general public and health community include the meat and poultry product recall notices and publications area.
Full-text publications are offered on everything from cutting board safety to summer food handling tips. These are the same publications that FSIS has been turning out for years, now they are available instantly from the Web. And, don't forget, if you are using a Web browser such as Netscape or Mosaic, you can e-mail them directly to people. This site is definitely worth exploring on your own.
For links to these and other sites, check the USDA/FDA Foodborne Illness Education Center: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodborne/foodborn.htm.
You can connect to a wealth of food safety information at state extension sites by accessing: http://www.reeusda.gov/statepartners/usa.htm.
TUNE IN--April 2, 1997, 1-3 p.m. E.T.
USDA and FDA are coming together again to sponsor a new video-teleconference that will update viewers on key topics including:
This is the fourth video-teleconference jointly sponsored by USDA and FDA. It can be viewed from any facility that can receive satellite transmissions, such as government offices, hospitals and universities. There is no charge to receive the transmission.
|C Band Galaxy 6||Ku Band SBS - 6|
|Transponder 2 (V)||Transponder 12 (V)|
|Frequency 3740 MHZ||Frequency 11994.5 MHZ|
|Location: 74 DEGREES WEST||Location: 74 DEGREES WEST|
|Audio Channel 6.2 6.8||Audio 6.2 & 6.8|
If you have transmission problems, call (202)720-4001 or (202) 720-8559.
Check out our new publication. It's aimed at child care providers and teaches the basics of food safety and sanitation.
Why is this important?
Approximately 60 percent of children under age 6 attend day care outside the home. As a result, training for child care providers is more important today than ever before.
Our new publication covers sanitation issues such as diaper-changing as well as food safety basics for babies and young children.
Each page in the new "picto-graphic" publication is designed to be copied and can be used as handouts, inserted in newsletter, posted on the walls or sent home to parents.
Check out this newsletter's inserts to see a copy. And don't forget--feel free to copy and distribute.
Imagine this--coming in to the office in the morning, checking your Email and finding a daily summary of breaking stories concerning food safety.
It's now available and you can subscribe for free.
The service, called Fsnet, is produced by Doug Powell at the University of Guelph in Canada. The service provides an alert on foodborne illness throughout the world. It also summarizes newly published journal articles and studies.
To subscribe, users must send Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org Leave the subject line blank, but in the body of the mail message, type: subscribe fsnet-L (First Name Last Name).
Just a note: only put in your first name and last name and don't put it in parentheses.
This guide has everything you want to know and you really can slip it into your pocket. It's available in English and Spanish--$5 for non-members, $2.50 for members. Contact:
Food Marketing Institute
800 Connecticut Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
The Consumer Information Center (CIC) offers more than 200 publications from the federal government on topics as varied as buying a home, managing money and, of course, food safety and health.
Now the CIC Catalog, full text publications and consumer news features are available electronically.
And, the electronic access covers just about all the bases including the World Wide Web, Gopher, and Bulletin Board System.
To get the latest information on electronic access to CIC:
Can Your Kitchen Pass the Food Safety Test?
That's the question posed by the Food and Drug Administration in their new video playfully titled: "Is Your Kitchen Crawling With DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS?"
The 8 ½ minute video is available for only $8.95. It presents information on safe practices to follow when shopping, storing, preparing and cooking food.
Interested in the video? Call Interface Video Systems (and ask for the Duplication Department) at (202)861-0500.
Also--the video comes with a free booklet called "Can Your Kitchen Pass the Food Safety Test?"
The booklet includes a 10-question quiz on safe handling practices that consumers can use as a guide in rating their home's food practices. By the way, this booklet is one of the many useful publications available through the Consumer Information Catalog. Check the previous article for electronic access to CIC or write:
Consumer Information Center
Item # 526-D.
Pueblo, Colorado 81009
"Keep Your Baby Safe: Eat Hard Cheeses Instead of Soft Cheeses During Pregnancy." That's the title of a useful brochure in Spanish and English designed to help protect women from Listeria monocytogenes.
Listeria contamination has frequently been traced to soft cheeses and can cause serious illness, including spontaneous abortions or serious illness for newborns.
Check our inserts for a reproducible copy of the brochure. For more info, bulk copies, or a poster, call (301)443-3220.
Interested in more food safety information for expectant mothers? Check our FAST FAX (1-800-238-8281) for our fact sheet: Expectant Mothers Are at Risk.
According to CDC, handwashing is the "single most important means of preventing the spread of infection" from bacteria, pathogens and viruses causing disease and foodborne illness.
And yet, as Minnesota state epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm says, "Handwashing in this country has become a lost art."
What can you do? Check out Bayer's new free brochure about handwashing prepared by Bayer Pharmaceutical along with the American Society for Microbiology. Call 1-888-97-BAYER (1-888-972-2937) and ask for their brochure prepared by Operation Clean Hands.
Now available, our new fact sheets cover key topics on safe food handling. Amazingly, each topic is covered in only one or two pages. They're designed for EASY READING and EASY COPYING.
Check this newsletter's inserts for copies or dial in to our FAST FAX.
You can now access the latest in information from FSIS by just calling the toll free number, 1-800-238-8281.
You'll find a series of touch-tone menus which will guide you to:
We'll be adding more in the future. So, give us a call and help us keep the connections going.
"Conference on Emerging Foodborne Pathogens"
What can be learned from previous outbreaks of foodborne illness and how can those lessons be used to prevent future problems?
Experts will be addressing these questions at a two and a half day conference sponsored by the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI).
The conference is expected to attract food protection and public health professionals as well as others interested in microbial food safety issues.For more information, call: (202) 659-0074, ext. 164, Shirlene Brooks.
"The Emerging Health Infrastructure (HII97)"
Sponsored by the Friends of the National Library of Medicine, this year's "HII97" conference will be held in conjunction with another conference--"Partners '97"--sponsored by the Partnership for Networked Consumer Health Information.
Both conferences will include sessions that focus on the use of technology to share professional health information as well as consumer use of the Internet for health care information and interactive applications.For more information, call: (202)462-0992, ext. 56.
We're interested in your comments, questions, suggestions for new topics. Jot them down and fax them in, attention: Editor, F.S.E.
The Educator is produced by the Food Safety and Consumer Education Staff of FSIS. For more than 15 years, staff educators have been working with researchers, scientists and marketing and design experts to product educational materials including print, video and teleconferencing services.
For Further Information Contact:
FSIS Food Safety Education Staff
Dianne Durant, Writer/Editor
Phone: (301) 504-9605
Fax: (304) 504-0203
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