Many things matter when it comes to the food we eat—taste, nutritional value, affordability—but the first thing to consider is food safety. Any food can pose the risk of foodborne illness (no matter how nutritious!), which is why food safety is an essential part of a healthy diet. Although you can exercise precaution at home, food safety begins even before you leave the grocery store. How livestock are raised, how produce is grown, where ingredients are processed, packaged, and stored—each step of food production requires a sanitary environment to keep food safe, from farm to fork.
So how do Americans feel about the safety of their food and beverages? According to the 2012 Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes toward Food Safety, Nutrition and Health, "Only one in six (17%) report that they have stopped buying a specific brand or type of food due to concerns about its safety; however, concerns about bacteria (51%), "chemicals" in food (51%), imported food (49%), pesticides (47%), animal antibiotics (30%) and undeclared allergens (25%) do have an impact on what foods or brands of food Americans purchase."1 Although these food safety issues are worrisome to many, our government is always working to make sure our food is safe to eat.
How exactly does the government do this? Government agencies inspect and monitor food production to make sure it complies with food safety standards, which became even stricter when President Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in January 2011. The FSMA "enables the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to better protect public health by strengthening the food safety system. It allows FDA to focus more on preventing food safety problems, rather than reacting to problems after they occur."2 The Act requires that every food facility have the required preventive control systems in place. To assure compliance, the Act requires that FDA conduct inspections. The Act also mandates that FDA enhance supervision of imported food products at an accelerated pace, especially for high-risk food facilities.
What about the food you prepare at home for family and friends? Just remember these four steps to keep your loved ones safe:
Clean — wash your hands, utensils, workspace and cutting boards. Rinse fruits and vegetables, but not raw meat, poultry, or seafood—this can spread bacteria to other surfaces.
Separate ready-to-eat foods from raw foods to prevent cross-contamination. Keep raw meat, poultry, fish and eggs in separate grocery bags, store them separately in the refrigerator, and use different cutting boards (tip: use color-coded cutting boards).
Cook foods to the proper internal temperature. Keep foods out of the "danger zone"—the temperature range where bacteria thrive (40° to 140° F).
Finally, chill food promptly in the refrigerator.3
Warm weather food safety reminders:
- Use a clean plate when serving cooked meat and poultry, being careful not to serve on dishes that were used for raw product
- Check for minimum internal temperature using a food thermometer
- Wash fruits and veggies with water, including those you plan to peel or cut (like melons) to remove dirt and eliminate bacteria
- After marinating raw meat, poultry or fish, discard the unused marinade.
- Refrigerate perishable foods within two hours, or one hour in temperatures above 90°F
- If driving to a picnic, keep food in an ice-packed cooler and avoid storing it in the trunk
- Discard food of questionable freshness
How does Campbell ensure food safety and quality? For generations, Campbell has earned the trust of its consumers for providing safe and wholesome products, and continues to strive for excellence in this arena. Offering safe products of the highest quality is just another way that Campbell is nourishing people's lives everywhere, every day. We are committed to using the best available technologies for monitoring and protection, and are continuously improving food safety and quality control systems that meet the highest standards in industry. To learn more about how Campbell is promoting global well-being, check out this piece about balancing nutrition and taste on CSRwire—a top industry source for corporate social responsibility—written by Trish Zecca, lead nutritionist for Campbell Health & Wellness communications.
Have more questions about food safety? Visit foodsafety.gov for additional information, and learn more about foodborne illnesses, recalls/alerts, and get the scoop on common food safety mistakes and myths.
Until next time—clean, separate, cook, and chill!
1. http://www.foodinsight.org/Content/3848/FINAL%202012%20Food%20and%20Health%20Exec%20Summary.pdf The International Food Information Council Foundation's 2012 Food & Health Survey Executive Summary. Accessed June 20th, 2012
2. http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/government/index.html. Protecting the Nation's Food Supply. Accessed June 22nd, 2012
3. http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/index.html Check Your Steps. Accessed June 22nd, 2011
Laura received her bachelor's degree in nutritional sciences from Rutgers University and completed her dietetic internship at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She worked for the Campbell Soup Company as an intern and contractor for two years, and is now pursuing her master's degree in human nutrition at the University of Delaware. Laura is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the New Jersey Dietetic Association.