Every expert says there is no immediate risk to the U.S. food supply, which is great news. But consumers wanting to remain aware of any new developments can take some additional steps to ease their fears
Orlando, Fla. (PRWEB) June 02, 2011
An outbreak of a dangerous strain of Escherichia coli bacteria in Germany has already killed 15 people and made 1,000 more ill. Early evidence by German researchers linked the outbreak to cucumbers imported from farms in Spain.
“Every expert says there is no immediate risk to the U.S. food supply, which is great news. But consumers wanting to remain aware of any new developments can take some additional steps to ease their fears,” said Angela Paymard, Chairwoman of N2N Global. N2N Global, based in Orlando, Fla. provides operations, compliance, and food safety solutions for food companies which helps ensure the world’s food supply operates more effectively and efficiently. Better and more efficient operations translates to a higher quality of food in the supply chain. Paymard works with food supply chain companies like restaurants, retailers, and distributors all the way through growers, packers, and processors around the world.
“Consumers need to adopt better food safety habits as a rule,” Paymard said. “It’s an opportunity for consumers to become educated in best practices for food safety.”
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, U.S. food consumers are increasingly demanding greater variety, quality, and convenience in the food they consume. As Americans become more ethnically diverse, the American food basket reflects a growing share of tropical products, spices, and imported gourmet products.
Americans have also become much more health conscious, with consumers demanding more nutritious foods. Dietary concerns have changed the emphasis from red meat to fish, fostered growing interest in fresh fruits, vegetables, and unsaturated fats, such as olive oil and canola oil, and sparked new interest in green teas, which contain antioxidants. In addition, cocoa (and dark chocolate) contains high levels of antioxidants and flavonoids, which are linked to improved cardiovascular health. Green tea and cocoa butter are also used in beauty products.
But, a growing share of U.S. imports can be attributed to intra-industry trade, where agricultural-processing industries based in one country carry out certain processing steps offshore and import products at different levels of processing from their subsidiaries in foreign markets.
Food manufacturing operations are often spread over many national boundaries to minimize production and distribution costs as well as to enhance the ability to quickly replenish inventories, the USDA concluded.
Whether the food is coming from Europe or other parts of the world, consumers should keep in mind that if food is processed and packaged, the food should be safe as long as the seal is not broken. For fresh foods, the risk of contamination is higher.
While experts say there is no immediate threat to the U.S. consumer, and since the attacks on September 11, 2001, the USDA’s commitment to protect America’s supply of meat, poultry, and egg products from any form of intentional or unintentional contamination has never been higher, consumers can do the following:
1. Check the Country of Origin Labeling on your fresh food. As part of the overall 2008 Farm Bill legislation, retailers must provide country of origin information at point of sale for perishable agricultural commodities. This paved the way for companies to label their packages with the city and state from which the product came. If from outside the U.S., labeling includes the country from which it came. Consumers can decide whether they want to consume product from any particular geography.
2. Visit http://www.foodsafety.gov The FDA’s job is to protect the public food supply. They monitor food domestically and have offices internationally in some countries. The FDA has a great website, foodsafety.gov. Consumers can log on to the website and receive the latest information about radiation safety and the status of any contamination from Japan as seen by the people protecting and examining imports at our borders. Consumers can also log onto N2N Global’s Twitter page for up to date information under http://www.twitter.com/n2nglobal.
Paymard says food safety risks can easily be avoided at home when consumers adhere to good food safety practices every day. Here are some of Angela’s tips:
- Wash Fresh Foods. As with any good food safety practices, make sure to wash your fresh foods with a thorough rinse. While soap is not necessary, many retailers offer a vegetable rinse for purchase that works great at cleansing fresh fruit and vegetables while not impacting taste
- Wash Your Hands: Consumers should wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after handling food. Clean hands are one of the best ways to protect your family from illness.
- Clean Your Countertops and Utensils: After cooking wash your surfaces with hot soapy water and run your cutting boards and utensils through the dishwasher every time you use them to prevent bacteria from growing and spreading. Dishwashers help wash utensils in water of at least 120 degrees or higher for an extended period to help assure contaminants are neutralized.
- Cook to Proper Temperature: Under cooked food is a common cause of food illness. Check the proper temperature of the foods you’re cooking and get a thermometer to be on the safe side. Food thermometers are inexpensive and can be found in most grocery stores.
- Chill and Refrigerate Foods Promptly: Keep foods refrigerated before and after they are served. Refrigeration slows bacterial growth.
While the United States has one of the safest food supplies in the world, preventing foodborne illness remains a public health challenge, says Paymard. Consumers need to be aware of ways they can protect themselves and their families from all types of illnesses that can be caused by food.
About N2N Global
N2N Global's product suite brings powerful solutions for all members of the food supply chain. For Supply Side companies, N2N offers agri-ERP solutions, farm management, food safety, business analytics and traceability software. For direct to consumer and buy side companies, N2N offers food safety, compliance, and asset tracking tools to help ensure the food supply is properly managed for minimized risk.N2N Global provides comprehensive solutions for companies looking for ways to improve efficiencies, enhance profitability, and ensure food safety. To contact Angela Paymard directly, visit her on N2N’s twitter page http://www.twitter.com/n2nglobal. For more information, please visit http://www.n2nglobal.com.
N2N Media Relations