No matter how careful you are, foodborne bacteria can find a way into your child’s lunch and make him or her sick. Symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps and fever. Children are often among the most vulnerable, and in some cases, illnesses can lead to hospitalization, long-term health complications and even death.
Using safe food-handling practices, such as keeping food refrigerated, cooking it to proper temperature and washing hands and utensils while preparing food at home can help minimize the growth and spread of contamination. However, safe handling alone doesn’t always eliminate bacteria that may already exist in food when it comes from the field or processing facility.
That’s why a prevention-based food safety system outlined in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is key to effectively reducing risks. But it needs to be fully implemented to work.
Check out the interactive sandwich below to learn more about which dangerous bacteria can pose a threat, and urge the White House to finalize the new regulations as soon as possible, so we can ensure a safer food supply – and sandwich – for all Americans.
"In other words, children will be able to buy only foods that their parents would find generally acceptable,' says Jessica Donze Black, director of the Kids' Safe and Healthful Foods Project, a non-profit, nonpartisan group helping to improve school foods for our kids. If your school participates in the National School Lunch Program (most public schools in the country do), they must adhere to these new snack regulations by the start of the 2014 school year.
The Pew Charitable Trusts offers thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their commitment to ensuring that all students have access to safe and healthy foods through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. More info
Students in Maine School Administrative District No. 52 thought it was uncool to eat school meals. In high school in particular, meals that were nutritious enough to meet the federal government’s reimbursement standards bore the stigma of being for poor kids who couldn’t afford to bring their food or buy the more expensive a la carte options. The result: Few students ate complete, balanced meals with fruits and vegetables, and the school food service program was awash in red ink and losing $100,000 a year. More info
In 2006, I almost died after eating spinach contaminated with E. coli. I spent nearly a month in and out of multiple emergency rooms and urgent care facilities. When I was able to return home, I had lost nearly 20 percent of my total body weight, and my recovery lasted five additional months of continuous treatment.
When you spice up your food, you may be adding filth with flavor, according to a new report by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA found that 12 percent of imported spices are contaminated with insect parts, rodent hairs, animal feces and other debris like twigs, plastic and rubber bands. Nearly 7 percent of the tests turned up Salmonella.
Food safety advocates are urging members of a House-Senate conference committee to strike down a pair of GOP-backed amendments to the farm bill now under consideration. The Make Our Food Safe Coalition and the Safe Food Coalition take exception at a pair of measures attached to the House’s version of the legislation, approved in July.
The Make our Food Safe Coalition and the Safe Food Coalition sent a letter expressing opposition to actions that would further delay implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act to Frank Lucas (R-OK), Chair of Overall Farm Bill Conference. The correspondence, which went to all Farm Bill Conferees as well, voiced concerns specifically with amendments offered by Representative Steve King (R-IA) and Representative Dan Benishek (R-MI).
Although schools have made significant changes in order to serve healthy and appealing meals, resources to purchase the right equipment and to train personnel would help them do a better job. More info
"Three area produce growers have made a solid connection with Siouxland school lunch programs in Hinton, Dakota Valley, and Sioux City Bishop Heelan. The result is a three-way-win, with students getting fresher produce, the local farmers getting access to an important segment of the food service market, and the area economy developing stronger local ties."
The government shutdown has caused staff reductions at two important federal health agencies, increasing the risk of serious harm to American consumers from food-borne illnesses. The two agencies — the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — have decided to focus their remaining resources on imminent threats. But they have shut down very important work that allows them to spot potentially serious problems in advance and take steps to head them off. The longer Congressional Republicans allow the shutdown to continue, the greater the danger of harm.
The following Q&A—prepared by the food and medical products programs at The Pew Charitable Trusts–helps explain how the federal government shutdown is affecting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other agencies and departments with responsibility to protect the public’s health.
"Six years ago, I learned a painful lesson. I bought Veggie Booty for our triplets, who were 20 months old at the time. That purchase ultimately opened my eyes to the need for better oversight of food that comes from abroad."