Every hour of every day people around the world are living with and working to resolve food safety issues. Here is a sampling of current headlines for your consumption, brought to you today with the support of Alchemy Systems.

Allergens top reason for recalls
Undeclared food allergens found in food products have climbed 19 percent, for a total of 106.6 million food units recalled during the third quarter of 2017.

“It is a growing concern because as the number of allergen-caused recalls have increased, so has the number of people with food allergies in the U.S.,” said Mike Good, vice president of Stericycle Expert Solutions, which tracks recalls in the United States.

However, FDA food recalls declined 11 percent during the quarter, for a total of 158 recalls. A decrease in food recalls would normally be positively received, but given the volume and severity of these recalls, the increase of allergen-related cases are concerning, according to the Stericycle report.

“Allergens continue to be a leading cause of food recall activity, and manufacturers still struggle to find a solution.” The CDC reports 30,000 emergency room treatments and 150 deaths each year due to food allergies.

The FDA reported that the top allergens from Q3 2016 through Q3 2017 were milk, nuts, soy, and wheat.

The number of pounds of food recalled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture dropped (by 27 percent for the quarter, with allergens accounting for 62.5 percent of the agency’s recalls.

Red dye helps gauge shellfish safety
The Washington State Department of Health, along with other public health agencies, are scheduled to perform a dye test Dec. 1 through 4, to identify areas where pollution is so severe that shellfish are not safe to eat.

The dye is not harmful to people, marine life, or the environment, according to the state department. However, the red dye will that will be added to treated wastewater from the main treatment plant in Shelton, WA, and will likely be visible in Oakland Bay and Hammersley Inlet the first day of the testing period.

Monitoring stations near Shelton will be used to track the wastewater and measure dye levels in order to help the DOH determine pollution levels that indicate the safety of shellfish.

Oh deer, what can the matter be
Deer hunting season brings fresh venison for the freezer, canned venison for cupboards, and, an increased risk for foodborne illness. According to the Michigan State University Extension Service, some of the lesser-known venison preparation precautions involve jerky.

“E. coli is a bacteria that lives in the guts of deer and can get transferred to the meat during field dressing,” according to the extension service. “Parasites are living organisms that live in many wild game species and include things like tapeworms and Trichinella.” Proper venison handling is essential for preventing food poisoning from these pathogens.

The extension service recommends the following three-step process for preparing venison as jerky:

  1. Freeze, at 0 degrees F, the meat in pieces less than 6 inches thick, for a minimum of 30 days. Freezing helps kill certain parasites and their eggs.
  2. Steam or roast the meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. This will reduce the risk from E. coli.
  3. Place the meat in a 140 degree F pre-heated food dehydrator for 10 to 24 hours.

Although steps 2 and 3 can be switched in order, the USDA adds that E. coli can become heat-resistant if dehydrated at lower temperatures recommends that venison be heat treated prior to dehydrating.

Jerky can be sealed in containers at room temperature for a maximum of two weeks. Freezing jerky can increase its shelf life.

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