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Constituent Update - July 1, 2016

FSIS Offers Tips to Prevent Food Poisoning this July 4th 

No matter where you find yourself on the Fourth of July, you will probably see lots of food, beverages and grass-stained sneakers. Whether you’re enjoying a barbecue in the great outdoors, traveling to see family or friends, or spending time at home, FSIS urges everyone to take extra food safety precautions when planning their menu.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 6 Americans (that’s 48 million people) suffer from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

“Because foodborne bacteria thrive and multiply more quickly in warmer temperatures, foodborne illness can spike during summer,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza. “This is likely because people are spending more time outside – away from the sink and equipment in the kitchen that help consumers keep food safe.”

The Danger Zone is the temperature range between 40 °F and 140 °F in which foodborne bacteria can grow rapidly to dangerous levels that can cause illness. Leaving perishables out too long in the Danger Zone is one of the most common mistakes people make, especially during warmer months.

Keep Food Out of the Danger Zone

The USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline, staffed by USDA food safety experts, routinely gets calls from consumers with questions about the perishable foods left out too long. Below are their recommendations on how to steer clear of the Danger Zone this Fourth of July:

  • Without refrigeration or a heat source, perishables should not be left out more than two hours if the temperature is at or below 90 °F, and only one hour if the temperature is at or above 90 °F. Since the weather will likely be very hot on July 4th, food should be returned to the cooler within an hour. If you are not sure how long food has been sitting out, throw it out immediately.
  • Always keep cold food COLD, at or below 40 °F, in coolers or in containers with a cold source such as ice or frozen gel packs. Keep hot food HOT, at or above 140 °F, on the grill or in insulated containers, heated chafing dishes, warming trays and/or slow cookers. If food needs to be reheated, reheat it to 165 °F.
  • Pack an appliance thermometer in your cooler to ensure food stays at or below 40 °F. Divide large amounts of food into shallow containers for fast chilling and easier use.
  • Packing drinks in a separate cooler is strongly recommended, so the food cooler isn’t opened frequently. Keep the cooler in the shade, and try to cover it with a blanket or tarp to keep it cool. Replenish the ice if it melts.
  • Use the food thermometer to check the internal temperature of cooked meat, poultry and seafood. Use our Is It Done Yet? guide to learn where to place the thermometer in each item. You absolutely can’t tell whether the meat is safely cooked by just looking.
  • If you plan to marinate meat and/or poultry for several hours or overnight prior to the event, make sure to marinate them in the refrigerator – not on the counter. If you plan to reuse the marinade from raw meat or poultry, make sure to boil it first to destroy any harmful bacteria.
  • To ensure safety, leftovers must be put in shallow containers for quick cooling and refrigerated to 40 °F or below within two hours.

If you have food storage questions, download our FoodKeeper application. This application offers guidance on the safe storage for more than 400 food and beverage items. It’ll give you a peace of mind knowing you served your dish safely.

As always, FSIS would like everyone to remember the four easy food safety steps of Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill and have a food safe Fourth of July.

If you have questions about the Danger Zone, or any other food safety topics, call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888MPHotline or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov. These services are available from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish.

FSIS Provides Criteria for Determining Chemical Independence of Imported Siluriformes Fish Production Lots

When an imported shipment of Siluriformes fish tests positive or contains violative levels of veterinary drugs, pesticides, dyes, metals, or other chemical residues, the importer is required to hold and test any subsequent shipments from the same foreign establishment. The importer must arrange to have the shipment sampled and tested through a third-party laboratory, and provide a rationale and documentation to support that the lots are chemically independent. Further information is available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/0651aa2f-faa9-4fe4-872b-b115e7acb323/siluriformes-hold-test-sampling-protocols.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

FSIS is announcing criteria to assist importers and foreign country Central Competent Authorities (CCAs) to determine whether production lots from the same foreign establishment can be considered chemically independent. The criteria provides a basis that FSIS will use to evaluate the importer’s rationale, and suggested documentation that would support an importer’s or a CCA’s claim of chemical independence. FSIS Office of Field Operations (OFO) staff will reach out to importers in
possession of affected shipments, to gather information needed to determine whether these shipments are independent of the violative lot.

The new criteria for determining chemical independence, and a decision tree describing the flow of FSIS’ information gathering process, are available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/dffbeeb8-3920-405a-9cd2-c802477b1845/decision-tree-chemical-independence.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

FSIS to Implement PHR Update for Scheduling PHREs

FSIS uses a number of decision criteria to prioritize establishments for Public Health Risk Evaluations (PHREs). These criteria are described in Directive 5100.4 at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/6c30c8b0-ab6a-4a3c-bd87-fbce9bd71001/5100.4.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

FSIS presented its plans to implement a Food Safety Assessment (FSA) scheduling criterion called Public Health Regulations (PHRs) in January 2013 during a National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI) meeting.

In June 2013, FSIS implemented the PHR criterion. This year, FSIS has analyzed the most current data and is revising the list of PHRs as well as the cut-points used. Periodic re-analysis of the PHRs is one of the recommendations from the 2013 NACMPI report.

FSIS is posting on its website the revised Fiscal Year 17 (FY17) list of PHRs and their corresponding cut-points. The Agency will implement this revised set of PHRs at the beginning of FY17. 

E. coli Testing Update

FSIS posts bi-weekly updates of the Agency’s raw ground beef E. coli sampling program. Included are testing results of raw ground beef component samples for E. coli O157:H7and STECs from FSIS routine and follow-up sampling programs. Also, featured is data for non-O157 STECs by each non-O157 STEC serogroup.

Between June 4, 2012 and June 26, 2016, FSIS laboratory services analyzed a total of 14,013 beef trim samples (12,047 domestic and 1,966 imported), 3,478 routine follow-up samples (3,364 domestic and 114 imported), and 326 non-routine
follow-up/traceback samples. One-hundred and sixty-three samples were found to be positive; 94 were domestic trim samples, six were imported trim samples, 59 were domestic follow-up samples, and four were non-routine follow-up/traceback samples. To date, three samples have been positive for both O157:H7 and at least one non-O157 STEC strain, and nine samples have been positive for two different non-O157 O-groups.

To review testing results, visit the E. coli data tables at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/data-collection-and-reports/microbiology/ec.

Policy Updates

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

  • Notice 44-16 - Instructions for Writing Poultry Good Commercial Practices Noncompliance Records and Memorandum of Interview Letters for Poultry Mistreatment
  • Directive 7120.1 Revision 36 - Safe and Suitable Ingredients Used In the Production of Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products
  • Docket No. FSIS-2009-0026 - Electronic Export Application and Certification Charger
  • Docket No. FSIS-2016-0012 - International Standard-Setting Activities
  • Docket No. FSIS-2016-0022 - National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection
  • Docket No. FSIS-2016-0023 - Codex Alimentarius Commission - Meeting of the Codex Committee on Processed Fruits and Vegetables

Sign Up for Siluriformes Fish Inspection Email Updates

Want the latest news and information about Siluriformes fish inspection? FSIS’ email subscription service is an easy way to keep up with Agency news. You can receive e-mail notifications when new Siluriformes fish inspection information is posted. You can add or delete your subscription updates at any time and you have the option to password protect your account. For more information, visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov/subscribe.

Food Recalls and Alerts

For information regarding recalls, please contact the Congressional and Public Affairs Staff at (202) 720-9113. You can also receive e-mail notifications when public health alerts and recalls are issued. Register at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/subscribe.

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.