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Asked by Anonymous

Who can answer my food safety questions?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Meat and Poultry Hotline (1.888.674.6854) can answer questions about meat, poultry, and egg products; and can provide information about other types of foods.

Find the Latest Food Recalls For Your State Through Twitter

You can now find the latest recalls and food safety information for your state through Twitter. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently created state-specific Twitter feeds that will announce food safety alerts and recalls by state.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) launched the program to make it even easier for you to find your state-specific recalls. You can find food recalls for products such as meat and eggs and learn how to protect food supplies during severe weather events in your area.

Each state has its own handle on Twitter, and can be found using the state’s abbreviation, underscore, followed by “FSISalert.” For example, Alaska’s Twitter handle is AK_FSISAlert.

Twitter feeds for all U.S. states and territories officially launched the first week of March. Learn more about the USDA’s new safety alerts.

Recall on Smucker’s® Chunky Natural Peanut Butter

From the Food and Drug Administration:

The J.M. Smucker Company today announced a limited voluntary recall on two specific Best-If-Used-By dates of 16 oz. Smucker’s® Natural Peanut Butter Chunky because it may be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

The affected product, which is packaged in 16 oz. jars, is as follows:

    • UPC: 5150001701 (located on the side of the jar’s label below the bar code)
    • Production Codes: 1307004 and 1308004
    • Best-If-Used-By dates: August 3, 2012 and August 4, 2012
    • Chunky product only (not creamy)
    • Impacted product would have been purchased between November 8 - 17, 2011

No other products of The J.M. Smucker Company are affected by this recall.

No illnesses related to this issue have been reported and the product is being recalled out of an abundance of caution for consumer safety.

Consumers who have purchased Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter Chunky with the above Production Code and Best-If-Used-By dates are urged to discard the product immediately and call the company at 1-888-550-9555 for a replacement coupon.

Learn more about this recall from the Food and Drug Administration.

Keep Food Safe in Summer Power Outages

The summer months are fraught with risk for power outages, with air conditioning gorging on electricity and hurricanes brewing in the Atlantic. So how do you keep it from spoiling when the power dies, know what foods you can safely eat, and which you must throw out?

Hard cheeses, such as Cheddar and Swiss, can be eaten well after the refrigerator loses its cold; but low-fat and shredded cheeses, as well as eggs, meat, poultry and fish, should be thrown out if the interior rises above 40°F for more than two hours.

To get ready for when the power goes out, stock up on some non-perishables that can be eaten straight from the can or box, and print out this detailed reference of which refrigerated foods are safe.

How does E. coli get into meat?

Yesterday we blogged about how to kill E. Coli and other bacteria when cooking meat. Arloue on Facebook asked us, “How does E. coli get into the meat?" That’s a good question.

E. coli is a type of bacteria that lives in your intestines. Most strains of E. coli are harmless, but certain types can make you sick. E. coli also lives in the intestines of animals, especially cows, and can contaminate muscle meat during slaughter.

But E. coli isn’t limited to meat. Vegetables that are grown with infected manure or washed with infected water can make you sick. You can also get the infection by swallowing water from a swimming pool that is contaminated with human waste.

To prevent E. coli infections, cook meat well, wash fruits and vegetables before eating or cooking them, and avoid unpasteurized milk and juices. Make sure to wash your hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat in order to prevent cross-contamination.

Find more information about E. coli infections on MedlinePlus.