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Preventing foodborne illness and ensuring a safer food supply

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July 20, 2020 - Author:

PRIORITY AREAS

  • Encouraging safe food practices.
  • Teaching vendors and handlers about food safety.
  • Reducing the risk of foodborne illness.
  • Educating Michiganders on proper food preservation methods.

IMPACTS

As a result of MSU Extension’s food safety and food preservation programming, adults learned how to limit their risk of illness when preparing food and to preserve food safely, child care providers learned how to reduce foodborne illnesses in the children they care for, and vendors and food service workers across the state learned how to protect their customers’ health and sell food products safely and legally.

PRESERVING FOOD THE RIGHT WAY

Preserving foods at home is growing in popularity across the nation. But improperly processed foods — whether canned, frozen, dried or preserved by other means — can potentially be contaminated with fatal botulism. MSU Extension provides evidence-based information on proper canning methods and approved recipes to people all across Michigan through in-person and online programming and phone and email discussions.

MSU Extension teaches safe food preservation techniques to children using educational materials like Put It Up: Food Preservation for Youth, developed by the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia. Put it Up covers six food preservation methods: boiling water canning, making jam, pickling, freezing, drying, and pressure canning. One beginning and one advanced hands-on activity is offered for each method. Lessons can be taught as a complete series or as stand-alone lessons. In 2019, nearly 180 young people from seven Michigan counties completed hands-on lessons in jam-making, water bath canning, pickling, or freezing from Put It Up.

ENCOURAGING ENTREPRENEURS THROUGH THE COTTAGE FOOD LAW

The number of farmers markets in Michigan has been steadily on the rise, according to the Michigan Farmers Market Association. In fact, as of early 2020, the association’s website listed farmers markets in all 83 Michigan counties. Many aspiring food entrepreneurs, however, aren’t aware of which home-prepared foods can be legally sold to the public under the state’s Cottage Food Law.

MSU Extension offers two workshops on the Michigan Cottage Food Law, one covering the basics and one for start-up or entrepreneurial businesses. The basic workshop covers the food safety aspects of preparing cottage foods for sale, which includes preparing, packaging, labeling, storing and transporting cottage foods. The business workshop combines the business and food safety aspects of preparing and selling cottage foods safely and successfully. Cottage Food Law workshops are taught by MSU Extension food safety and MSU Product Center educators. In 2019, MSU Extension delivered Cottage Food Law training to 113 people in face-to-face classes and 322 people in the online version.

PROMOTING FOOD SAFETY — FROM SERVERS TO CHILD CARE WORKERS

Safe food preparation and handling practices are important for everyone — including people who cook for large crowds, serve food to at-risk populations (such as young children) and food service workers.

MSU Extension offers a variety of programming to help promote healthy food handling practices. Cooking for Crowds helps people who work or volunteer at nonprofit organizations prepare large volumes of food safely and in compliance with federal and Michigan food processing and safety laws. In 2019, MSU Extension taught 206 volunteers from a variety of nonprofits about safe food practices such as hygienic food preparation, controlling the time and temperature of foods, and avoiding cross-contamination. Safe Food = Healthy Kids is an interactive food safety workshop for child care providers that is delivered by MSU Extension educators. Topics include cleaning and sanitizing, cooking and storing food, common allergens and personal hygiene. The Safe Food = Healthy Kids workshop can count toward annual training hours for licensed child care providers and has been approved by the Michigan Great Start to Quality rating and improvement system for early childhood programs and providers.

MSU Extension offers in-person ServSafe training for food service workers. ServSafe is a nationally accredited certificate course that teaches food service workers how to prevent food poisoning and allergic reactions and how to clean and sanitize correctly. Service workers with ServSafe certification are often in high demand, and Michigan law requires at least one manager certified in food safety practices (such as through ServSafe) to be present on all food establishment shifts. In 2019, MSU Extension reached food service workers in 35 of 83 Michigan counties, including almost 1,500 food service managers and volunteers and almost 900 food service workers.

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Tags: cooking for crowds, cottage food law, food and health, food & health, food preservation, health impacts, msu extension, safe food & water, servsafe

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