| Tragedy Strikes With Loss of Valued FSIS Veterinarian
It is with shock and sadness that we report the loss of ODIFP's Dr. Lynda Kelley, senior science advisor for food defense, in ODIFP who was killed while crossing the road near her home in rural Georgia on Nov. 14.
Dr. Kelley was known and loved throughout FSIS for her tireless energy and wonderful, uplifting spirit displayed throughout her 25-year career at USDA. "Lynda was a wonderful colleague and an extremely valuable member of our management team who was recently recognized by the Secretary of Agriculture for her outstanding contributions and service in the public's interest," FSIS Administrator Al Almanza said in a statement on Nov. 15. "She was highly dedicated to serving the public and ensuring food safety through her work with our agency. We will miss Lynda greatly."
Dr. Kelley never lost her passion for large animal veterinary medicine, and her contributions to the nation were recognized with many commendations. With her natural people skills, Dr. Kelley forged key relationships with other U.S. and international food safety and defense experts. "Lynda was an incredible resource to FSIS, and was loved and respected in OPHS. Her impact extended well beyond FSIS to ARS, DHS and CDC. She will be missed by all who knew her, but especially her "extended family" in the Russell Research Center in Athens, Ga.," said OPHS AA Dr. David Goldman.
As much as Dr. Kelley contributed to FSIS with her knowledge, anyone who worked with her will remember her first for her thoughtfulness, infectious enthusiasm, and always present smile and laugh. She leaves behind her daughter, Anna, her son, John, and her mother. She will be missed on a professional and personal level by many.
USDA helps Thanksgiving Hosts Serve Delicious Meals Without a "Side" of Foodborne Illness
The holiday season is famous for its hustle and bustle, and all of that merriment would not be possible without the hard work of party hosts. This Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season, the FSIS is sharing tips that can take one worry off your plate: foodborne illness.
"All year, Americans look forward to sharing a Thanksgiving meal with family and friends, and USDA wants to make sure that meal is safe as well as delicious," Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said. "Our inspectors work in plants every day to ensure meat and poultry products are safe before they reach the dinner table, and we encourage hosts to take advantage of our resources, like the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, if they have any questions about how to safely cook, store and serve food for guests."
The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline (888-MPHotline or 888-674-6854) is staffed with English- and Spanish-speaking food safety experts and is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST, and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. EST on Thanksgiving Day. FSIS' virtual food safety representative, AskKaren, is available 24/7 in English and Spanish at AskKaren.gov or downloadable from the iTunes and Android app stores. The agency also has a Safe Turkey Preparation playlist on its YouTube channel with instructional videos on safely thawing, stuffing, brining and cooking turkeys.
With Thanksgiving Day around the corner, here are a few tips to help prepare for the big event. After dinner is a wonderful time to relax with guests, but busy cooks should not "chill" until the leftovers do. Bacteria spread fastest at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, so quickly chilling food after a meal reduces the risk of foodborne illness. Cut the leftover turkey into smaller pieces. Place the stuffing and meat into shallow containers and refrigerate (40 °F or below) or freeze (0 °F or below) the poultry and stuffing within two hours after cooking. Use refrigerated leftovers within three to four days, or freeze them. Reheat leftovers to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.
For more information about cooking turkey, other holiday meats such as pheasant, capon, duck or goose, as well as stuffing, visit www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/
Export Requirement Updates
The Library of Export Requirements has been updated to reflect changes in export requirements for the following countries:
Complete information can be found at www.fsis.usda.gov/Regulations_&_Policies/
FSIS is gearing up to launch the industry functionality of the Public Health Information System (PHIS) to establishments nationwide. This will include the "plant management" role to review and print noncompliance records, respond to noncompliance records and appeal noncompliance records, view industry-specific reports and manage users associated with an establishment. The use of PHIS by industry is optional. For those who are interested in accessing PHIS, you must first establish a USDA eAuthentication (eAuth) Level 2 account. PHIS will not be accessible to anyone without an eAuth account. The steps on obtaining eAuth are:
If you need assistance or have questions about eAuth, contact the USDA eAuth service desk at eAuthHelpDesk@ftc.usda.gov or 1-800-457-3642.
FSIS is Here to Help
Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at www.AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. "Ask Karen" live chat services are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET.
The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is also available to consumers in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.
Updates on FSIS Testing for E. coli
FSIS posts bi-weekly updates for the agency's raw ground beef E. coli sampling program. Included are testing results of raw ground beef component samples for E. coli O157:H7 and STECs from FSIS routine and follow-up sampling programs. Also featured is data for non-O157 STECs by each non-O157 STEC serogroup.
To review testing results, go to www.fsis.usda.gov/Science/
The FSIS Constituent Update will not publish November 23 but will resume publishing on November 30. The staff wishes you a happy, safe and healthy holiday.