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USDA says new Listeria rule has made a difference
Robert Roos News Editor
Source of Article: http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/

Dec 3, 2004 (CIDRAP News) ? Most firms that produce ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products have taken specific steps to prevent Listeria contamination since new federal safety rules took effect last year, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced this week.

However, close to a quarter of firms that produce RTE products, such as hot dogs and deli meats, failed to comply with some aspect of the new Listeria rules in the first 9 months after they took effect, according to the report by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The report says that FSIS has found Listeria contamination on about 1% or fewer of recent RTE product samples. However, it cites evidence from other sources that 3% to 5% of RTE meats from retail delicatessens?which are not regulated by the USDA?may harbor Listeria.

"Under the Listeria rule, ready-to-eat meat and poultry products are safer and public health is being better protected," Elsa Murano, USDA under secretary for food safety, said in a news release. "If progress continues at the current rate, we should achieve the Healthy People 2010 goal of lowering the incidence of listeriosis to 0.25 cases per 100,000 people."

Listeria monocytogenes can grow on refrigerated meat and cause serious illness in pregnant women, elderly people, and others with weak immune systems. Largely because of the risk of listeriosis, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says these groups should not eat hot dogs or deli meats unless they are reheated, nor should they eat refrigerated meat spreads, refrigerated smoked seafood unless cooked, or products containing unpasteurized milk.

The USDA began strengthening its Listeria rules for RTE meats in November 2002, after an outbreak in the Northeast involving at least 52 illness cases, seven deaths, and three miscarriages. That prompted the agency to require plants to start testing their surfaces and equipment for Listeria or else submit to increased testing by the FSIS. Previously the FSIS had tested RTE products but not plant equipment.

In October 2003 the FSIS added a requirement that firms take specific steps to prevent Listeria contamination of RTE foods. The rule says producers must choose one of three approaches: (1) using both a "post-lethality" (post-cooking) treatment, such as heating, and a chemical growth inhibitor; (2) using either a post-lethality treatment or a growth inhibitor; or (3) using sanitation only. Firms using sanitation only are supposed to get the most FSIS inspections and those using the first approach the fewest.

The new report was prepared by a 28-member FSIS team that was assigned to measure the effectiveness of all aspects of the Listeria regulations.

The team reports that more than 87% of the nearly 3,000 plants that produce RTE meats have adopted at least one Listeria-related measure since the regulations took effect in October 2003, according to the FSIS report. About 17% of the plants began using a post-lethality treatment to control Listeria, and 27% began using an antimicrobial agent or "other control process" in one or more of their RTE products.

Also, about 59% of the firms started testing for Listeria or similar organisms on food-contact surfaces after the rules took effect, the report says.

The document says that in the first 9 months under the new regulations, 76% of the plants had no "noncompliance records," or violation notices, while 24% had been notified of some type of violation. The report doesn't describe what kinds of violations were most common. About 51% of all RTE plants are classified as "very small," and these accounted for 56% of the Listeria-related rule violations.

Random testing of RTE products this year, including tests on the riskiest products, has shown Listeria on about 1% of samples or less, the report states. In general sampling, 3 of 345 samples collected in the first 5 months of this year tested positive for the pathogen. In testing of the highest-risk products over the same period, 11 of 1,349 samples tested positive.

The report suggests that retail delicatessens may be a soft spot in defenses against Listeria. "Evidence indicates that slicing and packaging of luncheon meats at retail deli counters presents a significant source of exposure to L. monocytogenes," it states. "Prevalence reported from these sources ranges from 3 to 5 percent in deli meat sliced at retail." But more studies are needed, because the samples that yielded the data were small, the report says. The data come from unpublished findings from New York State and one published study.

The USDA does not regulate retail delis, which are under the jurisdiction of the FDA and state and local health departments, according to FSIS officials. But the report recommends that the FSIS should increase comparisons of the levels of Listeria on RTE products at production plants and at retail delis.

The report also says that no firms have availed themselves of an option under the new rules to cite Listeria-control measures on their product labels. The provision was intended to give companies an incentive to install newer control technologies, with the idea that citing these measures on labels would confer a marketing advantage, FSIS spokesman Steven Cohen told CIDRAP News.

"This may be a way to differentiate their product from others," Cohen said. "It's a little early at this point to expect to see much of that. They would have to propose a label, and we'd evaluate it."

In other items, the report says most of the small and very small plants producing RTE products didn't receive or didn't know about the FSIS compliance guidelines for the Listeria regulations. Cohen said he was confident that all the firms were aware of the regulations, since inspectors meet weekly with plant managers, but there may not have been "100% penetration on all the supporting materials that were available."

The FSIS said it would accept comments on the report as well as on the Listeria rule itself until Jan 31, 2005. (See FSIS news release link below for details on how to submit comments.)

See also:

Dec 1 FSIS news release

Full FSIS report

Jun 6, 2003, CIDRAP News story on announcement of interim final rule on Listeria

Nov 2002 CIDRAP News story on requirement that plants test environmental surfaces for Listeria

CIDRAP News story on recent FDA Listeria risk assessment

FSIS report: RTE products safer from listeria

by Ann Bagel on 12/7/04 for Meatingplace.com

The overall safety of ready-to-eat meat and poultry products has improved thanks to the listeria interim final rule published by the Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service. (See FSIS strengthens listeria regulations for RTE meat and poultry products, Meatingplace.com, June 5, 2003.)

According to a new report from FSIS, the rule has prompted establishments to strengthen their control procedures, increase testing and take additional steps to eliminate listeria.

"Assessing the Effectiveness of the Listeria monocytogenes Interim Final Rule" was prepared by a 28-member FSIS assessment team, which evaluated and measured the effectiveness of the rule and made recommendations in areas including inspector training, product sampling, retail food handling and communicating to small businesses. The report found that many plants have made significant improvements such as adding antimicrobial ingredients to their product formulations to inhibit listeria growth and installing a post-processing treatment step to eliminate the pathogen. It also found that facilities have either initiated or greatly increased their testing for listeria or listeria-like organisms on plant surfaces that come in contact with products after cooking.

Quotable Quotes

December 1, 2004
Food Irradiation Update is published by the Minnesota Beef Council

Wegmans now offers frozen irradiated ground beef under the Huisken label."We believe that irradiation is an important addition in the food-safety chain. We're still strong believers of that program, and we hope to be able to offer irradiated, fresh ground beef again in the future," Kevin J. Magliato, vice president, meat merchandising, Wegmans Food Markets Inc. Sensory evaluation indicated that consumers could not differentiate between the two types of ground beef and had no preference for either. For both the initial and follow-up sensory tests, irradiated and non-irradiated cooked ground beef were perceived the same.

Educating consumers on irradiation had the most significant impact on their views of food irradiation. Groups that received irradiation education were more accepting of the technology and more consumers positively changed their perceptions of irradiation. Consumers not receiving education were skeptical, uninformed and had more negative perceptions. Some were unaware of irradiation technology. Consumer study of irradiated ground beef
conducted at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.

Shigella Infections

Mon Dec 6, 7:00 PM ET
Yahoo! News Tue, Dec 07, 2004
Source of Article: http://news.yahoo.com/

Named after the Japanese scientist Shiga who discovered it in 1897, Shigella is a type of bacteria that infects the intestinal tract. Four different groups of Shigella can affect humans, with some causing a mild illness and others a more severe one.
About 18,000 cases of Shigella infection are diagnosed each year in the United States, but many more go unreported because they involve only mild symptoms and sometimes no symptoms at all. The infection is most common during the summer months. Shigella rarely infects infants younger than 6 months old, but it is common in children 2 to 4 years old, especially those in child care.

Signs and Symptoms
Shigella can cause a spectrum of illnesses. Some people with a mild case have only loose watery stools, and a few may not have any symptoms at all. Others go on to develop a more severe disease known as dysentery, with abdominal cramps, high fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which may contain mucus and blood. Some children with severe cases of Shigella infection may need to be hospitalized. The most common complication is dehydration (an abnormally low level of fluid in the body). Rarely, Shigella bacteria can affect other organs in the body aside from the digestive tract. This can lead to arthritis, skin rashes, kidney failure, or neurological problems such as seizures, stiff neck, headache, lethargy, confusion, and hallucinations.

Shigella infections are very contagious. People who are infected pass Shigella bacteria in their stool. Other people may become infected if they come in contact with anything contaminated by stool from an infected person. This includes toys, surfaces in restrooms, and even food prepared by someone who has the infection. For instance, if children touch a contaminated surface such as a toilet or toy and then put their fingers in their mouths, they can become infected. Shigella can even be carried and spread by flies that have touched contaminated stool.

Because it doesn't take many Shigella bacteria to cause an infection, the illness spreads easily in families and child-care centers. The bacteria may also spread in water supplies where sanitation is poor. Shigella can be passed in the person's stool for about 4 weeks even after the obvious symptoms of illness have resolved (although antibiotic treatment can reduce the excretion of Shigella bacteria in the stool).

The best way to prevent the spread of Shigella is by frequent and careful hand washing with soap. This is important for all age groups. Children should be reminded to wash their hands, especially after they use the toilet and before they eat. This is especially important in a child-care setting.

If you're caring for a family member who has diarrhea, wash your hands before touching other people and before handling food. (People with a diarrheal illness should not prepare food for others.) After someone with a Shigella infection uses a toilet, clean and disinfect the toilet before it's used by anyone else.

Diapers of a child infected with Shigella should be properly disposed of in a sealed garbage can, and the diaper area should be wiped with disinfectant after use. Young children (especially those still in diapers) with a Shigella infection, or with diarrhea of any cause, should not be in contact with uninfected children.

Proper handling, storage, and preparation of food is also important - cold foods should be kept cold and hot foods should be kept hot to prevent bacterial growth.

Symptoms may occur from 1 to 7 days after exposure, but usually occur within 2 or 3 days.

Although it sometimes goes away on its own after a few days, untreated diarrhea may last a week or 2. However, antibiotics can shorten the illness.

Professional Treatment
To confirm the diagnosis of a Shigella infection, your child's doctor may send a sample of your child's stool to the laboratory to be tested for Shigella bacteria. Blood tests and other tests may also be needed to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms, especially if your child has a large amount of blood in the stool.

Once the diagnosis is made, some cases require no special treatment, but often antibiotics will be given to shorten the duration of the illness and to prevent the spread of Shigella bacteria to other people.

Hospitalization might be needed for children who become moderately or severely dehydrated or for those with problems in organs other than the digestive tract. While in the hospital they can be monitored and can receive necessary treatment such as intravenous fluid therapy or antibiotics.

When It Comes To Food Safety, Who Watching The Watchdogs?
Initiative and website will focus on strengthening government oversight at FDA and USDA, making recalls mandatory

Source of Article: http://www.foodservicecentral.com/

YONKERS, N.Y. ?Providing consumers with timely information about food safety risks and giving them the tools to take action to effect change is the goal of www.NotInMyFood.org, a project and accompanying website launched today by Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.

To an alarming degree, the federal agencies that are supposed to be our watchdogs bow to the pressures of the food industry, even when the end results clearly endanger public health,?said Reggie James, director of www.NotInMyFood.org.

In light of a mad cow scare in November ?in which an animal tested positive for infection twice before being cleared in a third test and the confirmed case earlier last December in the state of Washington, James said it is urgent for the Food and Drug Administration to act to keep the disease agent out of animal feed and for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to test more cows annually.

As part of the new campaign, Consumer Reports is making an investigative report titled “You are what they eat,?available in the free portion of its web site. The report raises concerns that the federal government isnt doing enough to protect the feed supply in the U.S. According to the article, regulatory loopholes are leaving consumers vulnerable to pathogens, drugs and contaminants consumed by the animals they eat.

Consumers Union is proposing a 4-point action plan to make beef safer for American consumers:

Provide USDA and the FDA with the power to order mandatory recalls of contaminated food products, rather than voluntary recalls.

End secrecy agreements between USDA and individual states that keep the public in the dark about recalled beef.

Promptly enact rules prohibiting materials that may transmit mad cow disease.

Increase the number of cows tested annually by USDA for mad cow disease.
Neither the USDA nor the FDA have the power to order mandatory recalls of contaminated food products other than infant formula, leaving it up to food producers instead to conduct voluntary recalls.

While government agencies have the authority to recall faulty products ranging from toys to tires and impose penalties if products aren pulled off the market, when it comes to our food supply, industry calls the shots,?James said.
Consumers are also kept in the dark about food-borne health risks. Federal regulators refuse to tell state officials about the locations of stores and restaurants that have received potentially contaminated products unless they agree to keep that information secret from the public. Currently, 12 states are reported to have signed such secrecy agreements.
In the wake of the discovery of the first mad cow case in the U.S., the FDA promised in January to make changes in its animal feed rules. But FDA never followed through. FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan initially announced that the agency would ban cow blood and several other materials that pose risks in terms of transmission of mad cow disease in cattle feed. However, the agency never published the regulations in the Federal Register. In July, the FDA said it was considering broader restrictions, thereby postponing any action even further.

FDA must immediately close loopholes in its rules on animal feed that could allow the disease to spread,?said Michael Hansen, Ph.D., a research biologist at Consumers Union and advisor to the www.NotinMyFood.org project. The agency has known for a while that cow blood and chicken coop floor waste could be vehicles for transmission of mad cow disease. It should act immediately to prohibit these substances as well as restaurant waste and pig and poultry slaughterhouse waste, in ruminant feed. USDA, Hansen noted, is testing less than 1% of the cows slaughtered each year, far less than the percentage tested in Japan and most of Europe. The USDA has tested 113,000 cows since it began a broader test program earlier this year, but more than 35 million cattle are slaughtered for food in the U.S. annually.

Hansen said that while the risk of buying infected meat may be low for any given piece of steak, consumers who want to minimize their risk can:
buy organic beef, which is not fed any of the animal byproducts that can carry the infectious prions, and stay away from organ meats -- especially brains ?as well as beef sausage, hot dogs, and pre-packaged hamburgers, which may combine meat from many cows.
while testing alone will not fully protect the public, we should be testing all animals over 20 months, said Hansen. Even animals that test negative can be silent carriers of this infection. Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, is an independent nonprofit testing, educational and information organization serving only the consumer. We are a comprehensive source of unbiased advice about products and services, personal finance, health, nutrition and other consumer concerns. Since 1936, our mission has been to test products, inform the public and protect consumers.

Source: Consumers Union

Teen charged with poisoning CHP officer
By Quintin Cushner/Staff Writer

Source of Article: http://www.santamariatimes.com/articles/2004/12/07/news/local/news05.txt

A 16-year-old employee of a Taco Bell in Santa Maria stands accused of poisoning a California Highway Patrol officer by placing cleaning liquid in his burrito.

The boy, who is being prosecuted as an adult, faces felony charges of assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon and food tampering, said Lt. Larry Ralston of the Santa Maria Police Department.

California Highway Patrol Officer Martin Ledesma purchased the burrito Nov. 10 at a Taco Bell in the 1500 block of South Bradley Road, police said.

After taking several bites from the burrito, Ledesma felt a burning sensation in his mouth and detected a strange odor in the meal, Ralston said.

The officer contacted the restaurant after the incident, and the Santa Maria Police Department began its own investigation shortly after. Ledesma went to the hospital for an examination the day after the incident, but was not admitted for treatment, officials said.

After a police investigation, the Santa Maria High School student told detectives he put the product in the food as retaliation for a bad experience he had with a police officer that day, Ralston said. Police said the boy was not involved in a Nov. 10 fight at Santa Maria High School that ended with the arrest of three students.

He told police he knew the liquid could cause illness because he accidentally ingested several drops of the substance previously, Ralston said.

The boy was suspended from Taco Bell pending the outcome of the case, said company spokesperson Laurie Schalow, adding that the company is conducting its own investigation.

'Ideal environment' for germ led to illnesses at Ohio McDonald's, report says
December 1, 2004
Knight-Ridder Tribune
Nancy Bowman, Dayton Daily News, Ohio
PIQUA, Ohio -- Greg Dion, city director of health and sanitation, was cited as concluding that 132 people became ill in October after staphylococci introduced into ice cream/milkshake mix at the East Ash Street McDonald's grew because of a machine malfunction, adding, "An employee was not necessarily ill, nor did they have to have any cuts or lesions to contribute to the illness."
Dion was cited as writing in a report dated Monday that problems were compounded by a malfunctioning machine, creating an "ideal environment" for the staphylococcus organism to grow.
The ice cream/milkshake machine was shut down Oct. 2 after reports of people becoming ill. Two Dayton law firms sued in Miami County Common Pleas Court a few days later, seeking class-action status for those who became ill.

The economics of food safety: The case of green onions and Hepatitis A outbreaks
December 2004
Linda Calvin, Belem Avendano, and Rita Schwentesius*
Using the example of recent foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States associated with green onions from Mexico, this report examines the economics of food safety. Incentives for growers to adopt additional food safety practices are somewhat weak. Because of asymmetric information problems, produce grown with more food safety practices does not receive higher prices. Growers that adopt more food safety practices do so to maintain markets and to reduce risk. Results from a survey before the outbreaks provide a view of the incentives for adopting more food safety practices. Interviews with growers after the outbreaks indicate how the costs of an outbreak vary depending on the food safety practices growers had already adopted. According to growers, the market impact lasted 1-4 months. Policy responses by growers, retailers and foodservice buyers, and governments conclude the report.

Cattle brain samples, collected as part of Finland¡¯s BSE testing program, may have been deliberately switched at the slaughter plant.
Source of Article: http://www.meatnews.com/

Two veterinarians employed by Finland¡¯s National Food Agency are on trial, accused of switching cattle brain samples collected as part of the Finland's bovine spongiform encephalopathy testing program. The veterinarians worked at the Snellman slaughterhouse in Pietarsaari, Finland, in 2000. The veterinarians on trial worked at the Snellman plant in 2000. In 2003, National Food Agency suspended both of them on suspicion of wrongdoing.

The family-owned Snellman meat-processing firm is the only Finnish slaughterhouse with a license to export beef into the United States, according to a Finnish news report.

The report continued that the plant owners organized a briefing, at which Snellman workers were informed of the latest events. The processor emphasized that the company did not break any laws and the products were reliable and the internal supervision system worked. "The National Food Agency is responsible for actions of their staff,¡± the company¡¯s managing director Gerhard Snellman said. ¡°We have made provision for ensuring that the Agency will also answer for the possible loss of business and damage to our reputation because of this.¡±

"The European Union will not be taking any action in regard to the doctored BSE samples reported from Finland", Jaana Huso-Kallio, deputy director of the European Commission's consumer protection division, said. "Everything has been duly reported and now it is up to the Finnish authorities to resolve the matter.¡±

FDA issues regulations on food bioterror records

Source of Article: http://www.ift.org/news_bin/news/news_home.shtml

12/06/2004-The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today issued final regulations on the establishment and maintenance of records to protect the U.S. human food and animal feed supply in the event of credible threats of serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals. FDA also issued draft guidance to FDA staff and industry, which details the internal procedures the agency will follow before requesting access to records. For more information, see the FDA Press Release (http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/news/2004/NEW01143.html). The regulations will be issued in the Dec. 9 issue of the Federal Register (http://www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/02n-0277-nfr0001.pdf).

More than 90 students miss school in Red Wing with stomach pains

Associated Press
Source of Article: http://www.duluthsuperior.com/mld/duluthsuperior/10352939.htm

RED WING, Minn. - School officials suspect it was just a nasty case of stomach flu that kept more than 90 Burnside Elementary School students home from school on Friday, but county and state health officials were called anyway. "Because many of the kids are back today it is likely that it was a 24- or 48-hour stomach flu," said Kris Klassen, the Red Wing School District nurse, on Monday. "We have no facts saying that the incident was food related," she said. "There is no reason for parents to be concerned." On Monday there were 18 absences, well below the norm. "We usually see more like 30 absent at Burnside, depending on the time of year," Klassen said. Most of the students complained of stomach aches and nausea Thursday night and Friday morning, she added. Parents kept them home. Whenever numerous students are absent, the state Health Department recommends an investigation. No other Red Wing public school reported excessive illnesses or absentees Friday. Andy Gehn, a fifth-grader at Burnside, stayed home Friday after spending the evening with severe stomach cramps. His mother, a registered nurse, believes a Thursday lunch of ham and cheese may be the culprit.

"His symptoms were indicative of food borne illness," said Deanne Gehn. "Once he finally got it out of his system, he was only weak from dehydration. It will be interesting to find out what it was." Information from: Red Wing Republican Eagle, http://www.republican-eagle.com

Preparing food for young children
December 2 2004
New Zealand Foodsafe Partnership Media Release
As part of National Foodsafe Week, which runs from November 29-December 5, the Foodsafe Partnership is highlighting the importance of preparing and cooking food safely for those with tiny tummies ? infants and young children under five.
Food handling in the home plays a key role in preventing foodborne illness, which affects up to 119,000 New Zealanders every year.
Children under five are especially vulnerable to foodborne illness because their immune systems are not fully developed, which makes it easier for harmful bacteria to invade their bodies. It¡¯s important that we understand what we can do to ensure that the food we are serving is as safe as possible.
Which foods are not suitable for young children?
Most foodborne illnesses are easily preventable by following the 4Cs: clean cook, cover, chill. However, there are some foods that have the potential to cause serious illness in those with tiny tummies, and should not be fed to children under five. They include:
uncooked fermented meats, such as salami. Check the label: ¡°heat treated¡± or ¡°cooked¡± products are safe. Do not feed young children ¡°not heat treated¡± products
unpasteurised milk and products made from unpasteurised milk ? such as raw milk, cheese and other dairy foods made from unpasteurised milk
raw or undercooked meat (particularly minced meat), poultry, fish and shellfish
raw sprouts ? such as alfalfa, clover and radish
unpasteurised fruit juices. Check the label or contact the manufacturer. All freshly squeezed juices are unpasteurised.
Before you start preparing food, wash your hands, rinse and dry them thoroughly on a clean towel. Make sure the food preparation area, chopping board and utensils have been washed with hot soapy water and well rinsed and dried before use.
Sterilising bottles and equipment
All equipment including bottles or cups used to feed your baby must be sterilised before use, particularly in the first three months. Sterilising solutions can be used for 24 hours before being changed. Equipment can also be sterilised by boiling it in water for five minutes.
All parts of a breast pump should be washed with warm water and a mild detergent and left to air dry.
Breast milk
It is recommended that you breastfeed your baby for the first 4-6 months of life. If you express breast milk here are some tips:
milk can be expressed and placed in a sterile container with a lid
expressed milk can be stored in a fridge for up to 48 hours. Frozen breast milk can be stored in a freezer for up to three months
each time milk is expressed it should be stored in a different container, rather than being added to already stored expressed milk
frozen milk should be thawed in the refrigerator or placed in its container in warm water and gradually heated until thawed
to warm, heat milk gradually by placing the bottle or other container of milk in hot water
avoid overheating the milk as this can affect the immunological properties
test the temperature of the milk before feeding baby
microwave ovens can cause variations in temperature throughout the milk. When testing the milk the temperature may feel correct, but the core may be sufficiently hot to scald baby
any partially consumed milk should be discarded
All parts of a breast pump should be washed with warm water and a mild detergent and left to air-dry
Infant formula
Professional advice should be followed before using an infant formula. (It is possible to go back to breastfeeding after stopping, but it¡¯s difficult.) Part bottle/part breastfeeding can slow or stop the production of breast milk.
infant formula should be used only as directed, as proper use is important for baby¡¯s health
always follow the instructions on the infant formula packaging
powder formula should be prepared fresh each day. It can be stored in the fridge for a maximum of 24 hours. For very young or premature babies, powder formula should be made up just before you¡¯re ready to feed it to baby.
baby bottles containing formula or milk should be stored in the fridge and warmed up immediately before use by placing the bottle of milk in hot water
heating the milk in a microwave oven can cause variations in temperature throughout the milk and burn young mouths
test the temperature of the milk before feeding baby
any partially consumed milk or formula should be discarded.
For more information on preparing infant formula safely, visit the New Zealand Food Safety Authority¡¯s website: www.nzfsa.govt.nz/consumers/food-safety-topics/recalls-and-product-advice/infant-formula-sakazakii/#P37_1787.
Solid food
Commercially prepared food
read the labels carefully and follow any storage instructions
when opening vacuum-sealed jars, listen for a popping sound which indicates that the jar¡¯s seal was intact. This is particularly important with commercial baby foods: if the jar fails to pop when opened, do not use the food
swollen or leaking cans or jars indicate that harmful bacteria may have grown: their contents should not be consumed
once opened, all commercially prepared foods should be stored in the fridge, and preferably not in the can
throw out the contents of any product if it has an unusual odour
remove the amount of food to be fed immediately to a separate dish rather than feeding directly from the can or jar. This way, unused food in the can or jar can be covered and refrigerated for later use without the risk of contamination. Throw out any unused food in the dish. Use a fresh spoon for every feed
when transporting food for feeding outside the home, keep any opened can or jar chilled by using ice packs.
Food prepared at home
All normal rules for safe food handling are especially vital when cooking for a young child. Six key points you should remember to ensure safe food handling are:
keep hot food steaming hot
keep cold food refrigerated
cook food properly
separate raw and ready to eat food
keep kitchen and utensils clean
wash your hands with soap and dry thoroughly on a clean towel, especially before and after handling food (especially raw meat and poultry), going to the toilet, changing nappies, touching pets and gardening.
Additional suggestions
if you are preparing food in bulk, cool it quickly by refrigerating
don¡¯t keep it in the fridge for more than two days. When you make pureed vegetables or soup for your baby, you can make enough for several meals. Use a clean ice-cube tray to freeze small quantities which you can defrost, one cube at a time, for a single serving
if you¡¯re sick yourself, you don¡¯t want to pass any of your bacteria or viruses on to baby. Don¡¯t prepare any food yourself. Ask someone else to help or use commercially produced food in a can or jar. Ask someone else to do the actual feeding if possible.
Packed lunches for school or child care centre
lunches can safely be made ahead of time (the previous night) providing they are then kept in the fridge
ensure food preparation surfaces, hands and utensils are clean when preparing and packing the lunch
wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly
lunches should be kept cool. Pack something cold such as a frozen juice box with the lunch. Pack perishable foods, such as cold meats, chicken or egg sandwiches between the cold items
throw out any leftovers
warn children against sharing drink bottles.
Start teaching your child good hygiene
Teach children to wash and dry their hands before touching and eating food and:
after touching chicken or raw meat
after using the toilet
after blowing their nose
after playing with a pet.
Don¡¯t allow children to pick up food from the floor and eat it. Warn them against sharing drink bottles.
National Foodsafe Week is run by the Foodsafe Partnership to raise awareness of foodborne illness and give consumers an opportunity to gather valuable tips on how to keep food safe. The Partnership was set up in 1998 to promote consistent and appropriate food safety messages. Members include food industry representatives, consumer groups, public health groups, NZFSA and the Ministry of Health.
There is more information on how to safely handle and store food on the New Zealand Foodsafe Partnership website at www.foodsafe.org.nz