USDA is at it again
I have spent 20 years in the food industry in the USDA inspected plants and now in FDA inspected plants so I think I have some first hand knowledge about how this may very well play out. I can see both good and bad to come out of this but can also say that USDA is treading on thin ice on this. First, let's start out by saying that facilities in different districts are held to different standards and I know this first hand because I used to manage regulatory for a company that had 10 plants across the U.S. Heck, I've even had different EIAO's (Enforcement Investigation Analysis Officers) have totally different views within the same district. So, the information may be a bit misleading in truth. There may be plants with good numbers who in truth do not have such great practices and plants who do not look good but actually are very good but just have tougher reviews by USDA in that Region. So, what happens when there is an outbreak and it is from a plant with really good marks in this system? You and I both know this is going to happen. The media will have a field day with USDA. It is no different than when the Peanut Corporation had good 3rd party audits and the media tore into that auditing firm. I understand that the general public wants to be informed but how many people will actually go out and look this information up? Heck, how many people will actually know how to go look this information up and know how to read the packaging information to know what location it came from? What about educating the public you say? Well, we have not even been able to educate the public on home food safety so what makes us think we can do a better job of educating them on this activity. I think there may be a handful of people, mainly special interest groups and reporters that will get more value out of this. I also think USDA is thinking this takes some of the lime light off of them but I actually think it will do the reverse in the end. I think they will catch a lot more heat now that the information is public. These are just my thoughts on this matter.
USDA to publish plant-specific food safety data
July 11, 2016 - by Erica Shaffer
Search for similar articles by keyword: [USDA report], [Food Safety], [USDA]WASHINGTON – The US Dept. of Agriculture announced plans to publish detailed food safety data that is specific to slaughter and processing facilities. The new datasets will appear on Data.gov on a quarterly basis 90 days after publication in the Federal Register.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) initially will share information on processes used at each facility, providing more detail than is currently listed in the searchable establishment directory. FSIS also will provide a code for each facility that will make it easier to sort and combine future datasets by facility. Additionally, FSIS will release results for Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) and Salmonella in ready-to-eat (RTE) products and processed egg products.
Other datasets FSIS will make public include results for E. coli (STEC) and Salmonella in raw, non-intact beef products; results for Salmonella and Campylobacter in young chickens and young turkeys, comminuted poultry and chicken parts; routine chemical residue testing data in meat and poultry; and advance meat recovery testing data.
Some outcomes FSIS expects to come from sharing food safety data include allowing consumers to make informed choices about the meat and poultry products they buy while motivating individual processors to improve their food-safety performance, thus facilitating industry-wide performance through improved insights into the strengths and weaknesses of different practices.
“FSIS’ food safety inspectors collect vast amounts of data at food producing facilities every day, which we analyze on an ongoing basis to detect emerging public health risks and create better policies to prevent foodborne illness,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza said in a statement. “Consumers want more information about the foods they are purchasing, and sharing these details can give them better insight into food production and inspection, and help them make informed purchasing decisions.”
Details of FSIS’s framework for releasing the data are available in the agency’s Establishment-Specific Data Release Plan.
Healthy Crock Pot Ideas
First off I found this idea on www.verywell.com/creatives-ways-to-use-your-slow-cooker-1087872 written by Lisa Lillien aka - Hungry Girl on 4 creative ways to use your slow cooker. I personally am interested in the cooking entire spaghetti squash and the cook up crust less pie. Besides the crock pot she gives some other ways to cook up the spaghetti squash (see article below). I am going to try two different methods as I bought two of these vegetables over the weekend (must have been ESP or something). One of the methods will be the slow cooker and the other may be the microwave. I am so looking forward to giving these a try. I would love to hear if any of you have cooked the spaghetti squash and used for noodles utilizing one of these methods below.
y Lisa Lillien, a.k.a. Hungry Girl
Updated June 20, 2016Spaghetti squash is the perfect pasta swap that's completely natural. Once cooked, you can scrape out the noodle-like strands, which are remarkably similar in color, width, and texture to regular spaghetti. It can be a little daunting to prepare, though, so I’m giving you a step-by-step guide to making healthy meals with spaghetti squash. Trust me, it’s worth it.
First Things First: Why Spaghetti Squash? The biggest advantage to using spaghetti squash instead of regular pasta?
It’s much lower in calories. One cup of cooked spaghetti has about 210 calories. The same amount of cooked spaghetti squash strands, on the other hand, has just 42 calories. Add a cup of spaghetti squash to a cup of spaghetti, and you'll double your portion but add only around 40 calories. Or you could have three cups of spaghetti squash for just over 120 calories.
Sound too good to be true? It’s not.
P.S. Cauliflower is another good starch swap/meal expander.
Step 1: Choose a Cooking Method
Before you turn your squash into noodles, you’ve gotta cook it until the inside is tender. Most people cook spaghetti squash in the oven, but I've also got a fast microwave method and an easy slow-cooker method.
Oven instructions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Microwave squash for 6 minutes, or until it’s soft enough to cut. Once cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard seeds.
Then, fill a large baking pan with half an inch of water, and place squash halves in the pan, cut sides down. Bake squash until tender, about 40 minutes. You’ll know it’s finished when you can easily pierce a fork all the way through the flesh. Be careful not to overcook — if you do, the texture will be off.
Microwave instructions: Microwave squash for 6 minutes, or until it’s soft enough to cut. Once it’s cool enough to handle, halve lengthwise, then scoop out and discard seeds. Place half the squash in an extra-large microwave-safe bowl, cut side down and add 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook for 7 minutes, or until soft. Repeat with other half.
Slow cooker instructions: Prefer to set it and forget it? Use a slow cooker. Place the whole squash in a slow cooker (4-qt. capacity is best), and add half a cup of water. Cover and cook on high for 2 and a half hours, or until squash is tender (check on the squash after 2 hours — if it’s small, it might be finished). Then, cut it in half, and scoop out and discard seeds.
Step 2: Turn the Squash into Spaghetti Noodles
Once cooked, use a fork to scrape out the spaghetti strands from the squash halves. Place in a strainer to drain excess moisture. Thoroughly blot dry — there will be a lot of moisture. The more liquid you remove, the better your pasta swap will taste.
Don't forget to experiment with other low-carb pasta swaps.
Step 3: Make it into a Meal
While you can definitely use spaghetti squash as a side dish (just add a bit of light butter and salt!), it makes an amazing main attraction. Here's one Hungry Girl favorite:
Spaghetti Swap & Meatballs. Let’s start with a classic! You can’t go wrong with homemade spaghetti sauce, lean meatballs, and a big mound of noodles.
For more guilt-free recipes, plus food finds, survival guides, and more, sign up for free daily emails or visit Hungry Girl!
I did end up trying the microwave and the crock pot tonight. First the crock pot is definitely easier and I think it works better but in a pinch the microwave will work too. For the microwave I put it in whole around 6 to 7 minutes, cut it in 1/2 & then upside down in water / flavored oil to try and add flavor. I then cooked each 1/2 by themselves for another 5 minutes.
The first two photos are from the microwave version and the 3rd picture is from the crock pot. They are both very, very hot so handle with caution.
The final picture is the yummy meal I made with spaghetti squash. Scallions in a white wine & Parmesan reduction sauce.
I do not know about you but I can get bored with the same old salad day in and day out. I have to have variety in the food I eat and I want it to taste good. Thus, I turned to Pinterest to look for some salad recipes and I have found at least one keeper so far. The link below will take you to the pin for the Tomato, Basil, Avocado, Mozzarella salad.
I did make a couple of tweaks to the recipe but still believe it would be delicious without my tweaks. First, my olive oil had Italian seasonings in the oil and I added a little bit of Onion, garlic & Pepper seasonings as well. I did not measure the ingredients for the dressing but rather just did it to my taste. It has a little bit of spice to it with a little bit of sweet flavor from the honey and it just awakens my palette.
Along with this being a great tasting salad it is also a healthy salad for you as well. I use raw honey (still in the honey comb) and heated slightly in microwave but not too hot as that kills off the benefits of honey (or so is my understanding).
I know not everyone is a fan of Avocado so you could leave this ingredient out and still enjoy this salad.
From one salad lover to another - Enjoy!
Even though I grew up eating raw cookie dough and do not remember suffering any ill side effects from it the children of today seem to have a different immune system. Maybe it is because they do not get outside and make mud pies like we used to do back in the good ole days which I thoroughly believed help develop a stronger immune system. Therefore, I do agree people should take heed from FDA about letting children eat raw cookie dough. And with the recent flour recall due to E.coli (which last I knew they had not genetically tied it to the flour) it may not be a bad idea - especially for younger children who have not fully developed their immune systems yet.
Raw Dough's a Raw Deal and Could Make You Sick
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If your answer to any of those questions is yes, that could be a problem. Eating raw dough or batter—whether it’s for bread, cookies, pizza or tortillas—could make you, and your kids, sick, says Jenny Scott, a senior advisor in FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
According to Scott, the bottom line for you and your kids is don’t eat raw dough. And even though there are websites devoted to “flour crafts,” don’t give your kids raw dough or baking mixes that contain flour to play with.
Why? Flour, regardless of the brand, can contain bacteria that cause disease. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local officials, is investigating an outbreak of infections that illustrates the dangers of eating raw dough. Dozens of people across the country have been sickened by a strain of bacteria called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121.
The investigation found that raw dough eaten or handled by some of the patients was made with General Mills flour produced in a Kansas City, Missouri, facility. Subsequent tests by the FDA linked bacteria in a flour sample to bacteria from people who had become ill.
General Mills conducted a voluntary recall of 10 million pounds of flour sold under three brand names: Gold Medal, Signature Kitchen’s, and Gold Medal Wondra. The varieties include unbleached, all-purpose, and self-rising flours. Flour has a long shelf life, and many people store bags of flour for a long time. If you have any of these recalled items in your home, you should throw them away.
Some of the recalled flours had been sold to restaurants that allow children to play with dough made from the raw flour while waiting for their meals. CDC is advising restaurants not to give customers raw dough.
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Why Flour?People often understand the dangers of eating raw dough due to the presence of raw eggs and the associated risk with Salmonella. However, consumers should be aware that there are additional risks associated with the consumption of raw dough, such as particularly harmful strains of E. coli in a product like flour.
“Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria,” says Leslie Smoot, Ph.D., a senior advisor in FDA’s Office of Food Safety and a specialist in the microbiological safety of processed foods. So if an animal heeds the call of nature in the field, bacteria from the animal waste could contaminate the grain, which is then harvested and milled into flour.
Common “kill steps” applied during food preparation and/or processing (so-called because they kill bacteria that cause infections) include boiling, baking, roasting, microwaving, and frying. But with raw dough, no kill step has been used.
And don’t make homemade cookie dough ice cream either. If that’s your favorite flavor, buy commercially made products. Manufacturers should use ingredients that include treated flour and pasteurized eggs.
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Symptoms and Who Gets SickCommon symptoms for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli are diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps, although most people recover within a week. But some illnesses last longer and can be more severe, resulting in a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS can occur in people of any age, but is most common in young children under 5 years, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.
Parents of young children should be particularly aware. For instance, if your child is in day care or kindergarten, a common pastime may be art using “play” clay that is homemade from raw dough. Even if they’re not munching on the dough, they’re putting their hands in their mouth after handling the dough. Childcare facilities and preschools should discourage the practice of playing with raw dough.
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Handle Foods SafelyFDA offers these tips for safe food handling to keep you and your family healthy:
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