Food Safety News | January 2018

Food Trends in the New Year: Our Top 3 + Tips to Help You Be Safe

A new year is here, food safety friends—happy 2018!

For people in the food industry, one thing that’s top of mind is food trends. And, for food safety professionals, regulators, advocates, and consumers, it’s critical to understand and conquer the challenges of keeping foods related to these trends safe to eat.

When we look at the landscape of food trends, there’s A LOT happening. But some trends seem to be taking hold faster than others. To learn more, Stop Foodborne Illness helps you zone in on THREE of the most popular food trends emerging in 2018—along with key tips for helping you keep this trendy food safe to enjoy.

2018 Food Trend #1: VEGAN EATING

Chances are good you’ve noticed how much veganism is growing in popularity. For health reasons, environmental concern, and compassion for animals, vegan eating is BIG nowadays. Veganism is actually touted as a “mega-trend” by a leading hospitality consulting firm, Baum + Whiteman, in their 2018 Food & Beverage Forecast.

As it relates to food, a vegan doesn’t eat anything (meat, eggs, dairy, fish) that comes from animals. Vegan eating is centered around plant-based foods—so you’ll see vegans eating lots of vegetables, fruits, legumes, seeds, and nuts.

What are the food safety challenges and what can you do?

While a vegan diet does reduce risk of foodborne illness related to meals made with meats/eggs/dairy, there are still food safety pitfalls and practices that must be followed to help prevent contamination and illness. Many are the ol’ tried and true food safety tips we’re always promoting—but some are even more important to pay attention to when eating vegan:

  • For the plentiful amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in a vegan diet, only select those that are NOT damaged. Damaged produce = higher chance for contamination.
  • Before preparing foods, clean produce properly and thoroughly.
  • After purchasing, knowing how to store, and refrigerate your produce helps it stay fresh longer.
  • Vegan foods spoil and can harbor harmful bacteria just like other foods so be sure to refrigerate or freeze perishable foods (such as cut up veggies/fruits and salads) within TWO hours after they’ve been out at room temperature or ONE hour if the temperature is over 90° F—such as at an outdoor picnic during summer.

2018 Food Trend #2: RAW FISH IN POKE BOWLS

Poke (POH-keh) bowls are all the buzz these days. But first, if you’re not familiar with what a poke bowl is, here’s a quick definition: A plentiful bowl of vegetables and rice topped with raw fish and umami sauces.

Foodies say they’re the next generation of sushi, only easier to eat.

And poke bowls are popping up everywhere. They’ve been around for years in Hawaii, where they originated, and they’re still very popular there. They have now jumped to the mainland United States, and are becoming more popular throughout the country.

What are the food safety challenges and what can you do?

With this trend on the rise, we want to emphasize our stance once again: Eating fresh, raw fish ALWAYS comes with a risk. It’s best to cook seafood thoroughly to minimize the risk of foodborne illness.

Raw fish is especially high-risk for some people including children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with a compromised immune system. Consuming raw fish may result in serious, negative health consequences.

And, despite the popular, misleading myth that hot sauce or alcohol can kill bacteria, the ONLY way to make sure you’re consuming fish that’s safe is to properly cook it to a safe temperature of 145° F.

Now, if you do decide to eat raw fish—such as in a poke bowl—keep in mind this helpful tip: Choose fish that’s been frozen. Why? Because freezing kills parasites that may have been lurking in the fish. Be mindful though, that freezing does NOT kill every organism including potentially harmful bacteria. That’s why the safest route is to cook it.

2018 Food Trend #3: LOCALLY PRODUCED FOOD

These days, consumers are becoming much more interested in buying food that’s locally grown and produced. Some key reasons for this ever-growing trend include the desire to know more about how their food is grown/raised, enjoy food that’s higher in nutritional value, reduce negative environmental impact, and boost support for local farmers/food producers.

What are the food safety challenges and what can you do?

For people who’ve embraced this path, some have fallen into a false sense of security when it comes to food safety. They perceive locally grown and produced food to be safer than foods produced on big farms that transport their foods hundreds or thousands of miles to the consumer. And that can lead to lax food safety practices.

But, safer isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to locally grown food.

Although the “farm-to-fork” food safety process applies to ALL farms and food service companies regardless of size, the potential for contamination by harmful pathogens still exists in food grown locally—just as it does when food is grown farther away.

And that means you, the consumer, must still keep your guard up when it comes to using proper, effective food safety practices when you buy and consume locally grown food.

So, whenever you decide to purchase foods locally, here are some best practices to follow:

  • Do research on food safety rules/regulations applicable to your county/state so you know what they are.
  • Ask your state department of agriculture for a list of local growers.
  • Ask questions at local farmers’ markets about how the food is grown and produced.
  • Visit local farms to review their agricultural practices, food safety protocols, and food transportation guidelines.

When your goal is to eat the freshest in-season product possible, locally produced food can be a great resource. Remember to always carefully inspect any fresh, local product that you do purchase.

Check here for more information on community and local produced foods.


 

Also this month: A Devoted Mom & Dad are Fighting Back for Their Son + Are You Washing the 10 Dirtiest Utensils in Your Kitchen?

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