Many illnesses have been linked to imported food, from fruits and vegetables to nuts, spices, berries, cheese, and much more. An estimated 3,000 Americans die from food-related illnesses every year.
The Food and Drug Administration has proposed new rules which would make U.S. food importers responsible for ensuring that their foreign suppliers are handling and processing food safely. The guidelines would require U.S. food importers to verify that the foreign companies they import from achieve the same levels of food safety required in this country. These new rules could eventually cost the food industry up to $472 million annually, a cost which would be passed on to the consumer. "FDA wants attention paid to food imports," by Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press, July 27, 2013
The U.S. imports food from more than 150 countries. The government only inspects around 2% of imported food at our ports and borders.
An estimated 130,000 Americans are hospitalized and 3,000 die each year from eating contaminated foods, according to government estimates.
- Food Poisoning - Listeria.
Food and beverages that are vulnerable to listeria contamination include unpasturized milk and cheese, hot dogs and other processed meat, and unwashed raw produce. If contaminated, these foods can sicken not only pregnant women and newborns, bu also seniors and people with weakened immune systems.
So, pay close attention to the date son food that can harbor listeria, as well as cheese - its mold can be deceptive. But trust the sniff test on most everything else, and know that the staying power of some perishables can be surprisingly long. (Centers for Disease Control)
Eggs, for example, can be fresh for up to 5 weeks after their sell-by date with no change in their nutrients. (If you are not sure how old they are, use the float test: Put them in a bowl of water. If they sink, they are still good; if they float, throw them out.) (Dana Gunder)
Pasteurized milk is good for up to a week after its sell-by-date, and even when it becomes sour the, the milk can be used for baked goods and pancakes. As it ages, the milk becomes more acidic, making it unfriendly to bacteria. Actually, cooking with sour milk is delicious. It's a substitute for buttermilk. You can use it in pancake or biscuit batter, and you can't taste the sour. The pancakes turn out fluffy and really good. (Scientist Dana Gunders told Allison Aubrey for NPR)
Pregnancy. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises pregnant women not to eat certain kinds of food that can harbor listeria a bacterium that can cause illness in both the mother and baby. Everyone, pregnant or not, should heed the labels on those foods, because listeria multiples even when refrigerated. (Source: Dana Gunders, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council; and "Food labels to drop sell-by dates in favor of use-by dates," by Jennifer Graham, Deseret News, March 19, 2017)
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