I recently had the opportunity to share a public service announcement for WDEV Radio and thought I’d take the three minutes to discuss what a consumer needs to know about Food Safety.
The written transcription is below, or your can choose to listen to the segment yourself!
Hello I’m Andy Chamberlin from the University of Vermont Extension.
One of the roles I play in education is to teach the best practices of produce safety to farmers.
As part of The Food Safety Modernization Act there is a Produce Safety Rule that sets minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption. We at UVM Extension help to break down the produce safety rule, and explain what the regulation requires farmers to do. A few examples include keeping training records of the employees on health and hygiene practices, proper hand washing, and cleaning of equipment and tools.
My observations from visiting Vermont fruit and vegetable farms assures me our food supply is quite safe. If you think you’re hearing about more food-borne illnesses in the news it’s because we are getting better at linking illnesses into clusters and identifying outbreaks. I also want to say that Extension and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets have collaborated to increase knowledge about produce safety and to help reduce potential risks of contamination.
So what if there is an outbreak, what can you as a consumer do about food safety? First off, don’t panic, and continue to EAT FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES! Better yet, eat locally, get to know your farmer, and understand where your food comes from. Buy food that’s close to home minimizing the distance between where it’s grown and consumed is better for the quality of your vegetables, and the impact on the environment. Vermont is made up of small scale farmers and they are hyper focused on food safety. NO ONE wants to make anyone sick and they are doing their best to handle your food with care.
Once you get home? Well, wash your hands, and keep the kitchen clean. All food contact surfaces should be cleaned to prohibit bacterial growth, this includes the counters, knives, cookware cutting boards and other utensils. You can also wash produce under fresh running water. Keep it cold, store it in the fridge or freezer and separate fruits and vegetables from the raw meat, poultry, or seafood that can carry harmful bacteria. Cooking food properly kills bacteria which is why it’s important to cook your meat to the recommended temperatures. But, I’d say most consumers don’t enjoy a cooked salad, so proper handling of your vegetables is very important.
You can visit the Partnership for Food Safety from the Centers of Disease Control to learn more ways that you can handle food safety in your home. This website is called “fight bac” for fighting bacteria. Go to fightBAC.org.