Safe food supply starts on the farm

December 30, 2018

Did you know farmers help to keep our food safe? By using Food Agricultural Practices (GAP’s) guidelines, food production on U.S. farms and ranches, food comes to the consumer safer. Proper planting, cultivating harvesting and storage of foods helps to reduce chances of contamination.

People who harvest foods must wash their hands at portable sanitation, stations right in the fields, with some persons wearing gloves and protective clothing. Those packing the food make sure it has been cleaned properly, and it must be stored in clean facilities.

Once cow milk is gathered, pasteurization kills bacteria by heating liquids to 161°F for 15 seconds. This process inactivates about 95 percent of pathogenic microorganisms, the disease-causing germs. Want shelf stable milk? Then ultra-high temperature processing, or UHT is for you. This process flash heats liquids to 280°F, resulting in a partially sterilized product.

Another food treatment is irradiation, or “cold pasteurization.” Food irradiation primarily extends the shelf-life of irradiated foods by effectively destroying organisms responsible for spoilage and foodborne illness and inhibiting sprouting.

It works without heat and allows foods to be kept in its original packaging, remaining protected against recontamination until the package is opened for use. Many foods imported into the U.S., including spices, fruits and vegetable are irradiated before being exported into the U.S. Look for the gamma symbol, a green circle with a leaf inside.

When the food has left the farm, transportation companies, processors and grocery stores have national, state and local governments who provide food safety regulations. On ranches, cattle are approved by veterinarians before entering the food supply.

Grocery stores are inspected regularly to ensure hot foods are hot and cold foods are cold, with deli department cases and equipment regularly being sanitized. Restaurants, hospital cafeterias and school kitchens are inspected each year by state health inspectors. Source: New Mexico State University

No wonder our U.S. food supply is one of the safest in the world. Enjoy the variety of foods available.

Julie Buck, EdD, RDN, is a registered dietitian, food safety and health educator employed at the University of Idaho Extension, Bingham County. She can be reached at (208)785-8060 or jhbuck@uidaho.edu.

Update hourly