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Old 12-02-2008, 06:36 PM
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Default How to protect your family from food poisoning

Today, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it has made “significant process” in keeping our food supply safe. As you may remember, about a year ago, the FDA launched its Food Protection Plan to protect both domestic and imported food from contamination. The plan came about after a number of high-profile cases including the outbreak of E. coli in spinach in California and the discovery of melamine in food from China. Among its accomplishments, says the FDA, is establishing offices in regions of the world where the US imports lots of food and other FDA-regulated products: China, India, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. The FDA has also OK’d the irradiation of iceberg lettuce and spinach for the control of E. coli. Critics have mixed feelings. “It’s a good thing,” says Bill Hubbard of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA. But Hubbard adds, “The key thing is if it will be funded.”

Food safety is serious business. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 325,000 people end up in the hospital because of food-borne diseases. About 5,000 people die each year. There are things you can do to protect your family. Here are the top tips from the United States Department of Agriculture.
Clean: Bacteria can spread from chopping boards to knives to plates in a matter of minutes. Frequent cleaning is the key. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds each time you handle food. Make sure you run all cutting boards and utensils through the dishwasher. Also don’t forget to clean countertops.
Separate: Cross contamination is how bacteria spreads. Keep raw meat away from food you are about to put on the table. Use different chopping boards for meat and vegetables. At the grocery store, keep raw meat and their juices apart from the other groceries in your cart.
Cook: You may be Rachael Ray in the kitchen, but if you don’t cook food long enough, bacteria can survive. Use a food thermometer to make sure meats are done. When cooking food in a microwave, stir and rotate the dish to prevent cold spots. Also, when reheating sauces, soups and gravies on the stove, bring to a boil.
Chill: Bacteria spread fastest at temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, so chilling food properly is important. Leftovers and takeout food need to get into the fridge within two hours of eating. Also, food experts say it’s a good idea to thaw meat in the fridge and not on the counter.
“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”
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