Ingham County ensuring safe and secure food 2017

MSU Extension food safety and preservation programs provided to Ingham County participants help to stimulate the local economy by encouraging locally grown and purchased foods.

Efforts for reducing foodborne illness

News of widespread food recalls over potentially pathogenic contaminated foods is becoming more frequent. The increase of bacteria’s and viruses in our community has risen, creating a need for changes in our food safety methods in our homes and businesses. We no longer advise leaving food out at room temperature to thaw or eating undercooked ground meat or eggs. MSU Extension Food Safety Educator, Joyce McGarry, located at the Ingham County office in Mason, coordinates the MSU Extension Consumer Food Safety Hotline (810-285-9565) to help with these types of consumer questions.

Michigan Cottage Food and home food preservation

There has been increased interest across the tri-county area in cottage food and home food preservation. The Michigan Cottage Food Law allows residents to manufacture and store foods in their home kitchens. In partnership with the MSU Product Center, Joyce offers workshops that combine the business and food safety aspects of preparing and selling cottage foods safely.

MSU Extension 4-H and Home Economics published one of the first bulletins on “Canning Vegetables in the Home” and MSU Extension is still the “go to source” for home canning questions. Joyce offers programs that address the dangers of following untested recipes and the changing methods of preserving foods at home. To meet the demand for education of food preservation, Joyce developed a self-paced, on-line course for those who cannot attend direct programs. A unique service of MSUE, Ingham County, is the testing of consumer pressure canner dial gauges. Each year the Center for Home Food Preservation recommends those using a dial gauge pressure canning for food preservation, get their dial gauge tested. This service is essential in the safety of home preserved food.

Emergency preparedness

Emergency preparedness has become an important issue highlighted through a 2016 MSU Extension Issues Identification Consumer Survey. Because of this need and request from our Michigan residents, Joyce has developed four emergency preparedness fact sheets. The fact sheets include information on how to keep a three day emergency food supply and how to keep food safe after a fire, flood, and tornado. She is also the point of contact for the Extension Disaster Emergency Network (EDEN), an organization of land-grant colleges across the nation offering resources and materials for consumers and educators on working with disasters.

Michigan Food Law

On October 1, 2012, the Michigan Food Law was adopted from the 2009 FDA Food Code. This required Michigan restaurants, bakeries, food trucks, markets, bars, mobile food vendors and commissaries that prepare or serve non-packaged food to have an owner or an employee pass an accepted examination in food safety. Joyce has been offering the approved food safety ServSafe Curriculum to Ingham County residents since 2012. The requirements have now expanded to include food pantry workers and all non-profits that serve or distribute food to the public. In cooperation with the Greater Lansing Food Bank, Joyce has been able to collaborate with the many food pantries to extend this certificate training. In 2017, the Food Safety Team has trained over 1,208 people in ServSafe.

ServSafe teaches about foodborne illness, how to prevent it and how to train employees about the latest food safety issues. The Manager course uses proven techniques, provides new Food & Drug Administration food code rules and content related to the food industry.

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