House passes “biggest food safety overhaul in 70 years”

U.S. food safety system is preparing for massive reform.  It’s time to loosen up the belt for the holiday season, but are you taking adequate measures to prevent an untimely bout with food poisoning?

The House of Representatives just passed legislation that is being called “[the] biggest overhaul in more than 70 years.” (MSNBC) This legislation has already cleared the Senate and just needs Obama’s signature. 
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food-borne illnesses kill 3,000 people a year in the U.S and sicken another 48 million.  The legislation would empower the FDA to recall food even if a business doesn’t want to voluntarily recall the tainted item itself, and would also place further accountability on food manufacturers to take more in-depth measures that would prevent contamination.
It is important to distinguish between real food poisoning and Gastroenteritis, a condition that causes similar symptoms.  Food poisoning occurs due to bacteria presence in food or drink, whereas gastroenteritis is caused by a bacterial or viral infection.  Both can cause diarrhea and vomiting, and young children and the elderly are more susceptible to dehydration.
How cold should my fridge be?  “The most favorable temperatures for bacterial growth are in the range of 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit,” explains WVU extension service on Refrigerator and Freezer Safety. 
What about freezing food? Freezing meats and other food does slow bacteria growth, but it is important not to refreeze food after you thaw it because bacteria is dormant while frozen but still able to resume growth.  Frozen food should be stored at around 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
For more on safe food handling, check out the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service article by William Schafer, entitled A Quick Consumer Guide to Safe Food Handling.  

Image: savit keawtavee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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