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Constituent Update - September 20, 2013

FSIS Provides Severe Weather Food Safety Tips

FSIS is issuing food safety recommendations for those affected by the ongoing severe weather in Colorado, especially those who have lost electricity as a result of the flood. Power outages and flooding that often result from weather emergencies compromise the safety of stored food, but there are steps that can minimize food waste and the risk of foodborne illness.

The publication “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes” can be downloaded at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/shared/PDF/Severe_Storms_and_Hurricanes_Guide.pdf. Print for reference during a power outage. FSIS’ YouTube video “Food Safety During Power Outages” also has instructions for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe. To view it, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vGAZ64T0uE&feature=plcp

FSIS will provide relevant food safety information as the storm progresses from its Twitter feed @USDAFoodSafety (https://twitter.com/usdafoodsafety). To get tweets about weather-related food safety issues and food recalls affecting Colorado, follow @CO_FSISAlert (https://twitter.com/co_fsisalert).

Steps to follow if the power goes out:

  • Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.
  • Group food together in the freezer — this helps the food stay cold longer.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
  • A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if you keep the door closed.
  • A full freezer will keep its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
  • If the power is out for an extended period of time, buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.

Steps to follow after a weather emergency:

  • Check the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer. If the thermometer reads 40 °F or below, the food is safe.
  • If no thermometer was used in the freezer, check each package. If food still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below when checked with a food thermometer, it may be safely refrozen.
  • Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items) that have been kept in a refrigerator or freezer above 40 °F for two hours or more.
  • Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water. Containers that are not waterproof include those with screw-caps, snap lids, pull tops, and crimped caps. Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers.
  • Thoroughly wash all metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils that came in contact with flood water with hot soapy water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water.
  • Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and retort pouches (for example, flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches) can be saved. Follow the Steps to Salvage All-Metal Cans and Retort Pouches in the publication “Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency.” 
  • Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters. If bottled water is not available, tap water can be boiled for safety.
  • Never taste food to determine its safety!
  • When in doubt, throw it out!

Videos detailing food safety information are available in English, Spanish, and American Sign Language on FSIS’ YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/USDAFoodSafety. An FSIS Public Service Announcement (PSA) illustrating practical food safety recommendations for handling and consuming foods stored in refrigerators and freezers during and after a power outage is available in 30- and 60-second versions at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/videos-psas/food-safety-public-service-announcements. News organizations and power companies can obtain hard copy (Beta and DVD) versions of the PSA by contacting FSIS’ Food Safety Education Staff at (301) 344-4757. 

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at www.AskKaren.gov  or m.AskKaren.gov on a smartphone. Mobile Ask Karen can also be downloaded from the Apple and Android app stores. Consumers can e-mail, chat with a live representative, or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from the app. To use these features from Mobile Ask Karen, simply choose “Contact Us” from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available in English and Spanish on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET. 

FSIS Posts 2013 Residue Sampling Plans

FSIS is announcing the posting of the publication, United States National Residue Program for Meat, Poultry and Egg Products – 2013 Residue Sampling Plans (Blue Book). This is the latest version of the “Blue Book” which outlines the residue sampling plans for Fiscal Year 2013. Find it at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/data-collection-and-reports/chemistry/blue-books/ct_index.

The publication describes a three-tier sampling system, initiated in 2012 and continued through 2013, identifies production classes and compounds FSIS is analyzing, provides access to current methodology, and explains that residue program is now run on a fiscal year basis as opposed to a calendar year. Posting the Blue Book is done to provide transparency on U.S. residue sampling of meat, poultry and egg products.  

Export Requirement

The Library of Export Requirements has been updated to reflect changes in export requirements for the following areas:

  • Iraq
  • Russia
  • Singapore

Complete information can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/international-affairs/exporting-products. 

LIMS-Direct to Replace LEARN

FSIS Notice 46-13, issued July 11, 2013, is announcing the Laboratory Information Management System-Direct (LIMS-Direct) reporting application that is replacing Laboratory Electronic Application for Results Notification (LEARN) for reporting FSIS’ laboratory sample status and testing results.

On Sept. 16, 2013, “Welcome to LIMS-Direct” letters were sent to establishments’ e-mails that have a PHIS profile marked for receiving lab sample results. This enables establishments to receive laboratory sample results. For two consecutive weeks, management will receive an e-mail from LIMS-Direct and one from LEARN that contains duplicate sampling results information. These e-mails will be used as “tests” to ensure that LIMS-Direct is properly sending notifications. LEARN will be available to FSIS personnel until Oct. 1, 2013.

A direct link to Notice 46-13 is at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/5b0032c1-5b4e-4cca-b2f8-f82d383945b2/46-13.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

The LIMS-Direct User Guide can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/77c3f296-5357-4625-81fc-a564a3a3f04a/LIMS-Direct-UserManual-0713.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

HIKE Pre-scenario Available Online

FSIS has made available the Humane Interactive Knowledge Exchange (HIKE) scenario, “A Corrective Action Stun” DH 02-13 for comment through September 2013. The HIKE addresses the actions taken by FSIS for a failed stunning attempt by the establishment who immediately performs a corrective action stun.

The reason for posting this HIKE for comment is to provide inspection personnel, industry, consumers and others the opportunity to review and comment on the HIKE prior to its posting as a final document.

The scenario can be viewed on FSIS’ website at the followings links:

Visit the Food Safety Discovery Zone

Visit the USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone (FSDZ) at two Maryland Fairs. The FSDZ will be at The Great Frederick Fair in Frederick today and tomorrow, and at the Calvert County Fair in Prince Frederick Sept. 25-29, 2013.

For times and more information on upcoming events, go to http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/usda-food-safety-discovery-zone-mobile/event-schedule-by-date/fsdz-events-by-date

Follow Us On Twitter

Find food safety information for at-risk people, along with tips and resources to keep consumers and other interested groups informed of the latest agency news and events. Follow FSIS on Twitter at www.twitter.com/USDAFoodSafety.

Also Tweet en Español

The FSIS Spanish language Twitter feed keeps consumers and other interested communities informed of the latest agency news and events and provides useful food safety tips.

Follow FSIS’ Spanish Twitter account at www.twitter.com/usdafoodsafe_es.

FSIS Policy Updates

FSIS issues notices and directives to protect public health. All notices and directives are available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulations. The following policy updates were recently issued:

  • PHIS Directive 13000.4, PHIS Disconnected State and Offline Synchronization Application

Get Answers at AskFSIS

AskFSIS is a web-based technology and policy question-and-answer forum on topics such as exporting, labeling, inspection, programs and procedures.

In addition, AskFSIS offers Really Simple Syndication feeds that link back to the Q&As. Visit http://askfsis.custhelp.com/  to view recently posted topics