Need Food Safety Posters? Free Downloads Are Now Available!

The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced additions to its resource bank of Food Safety posters and materials that are now available for download.  Proper Date Marking of Time-Temperature Control for Safety Foods and Proper Cooking posters are among the additions. These posters are available in nine different languages to help broaden the availability of important food safety guidance.

Visit the FDA’s Retail Food Industry/Regulatory Assistance & Training site for additional materials and ideas for training.

Don’t Forget To Date Mark Your Frozen Prepared TCS Foods!

For quite some time, we have emphasized the importance of date marking ready-to-eat TCS* foods that are being held more than 24-hours after preparation in order to minimize the possibility for the growth of Listeria–a pathogenic bacteria that is capable of growing at refrigerated temperatures.   [The maximum hold time for these date marked foods can be no longer than 7 days from the preparation date of the oldest prepared TCS food used as an ingredient.]  This same requirement also applies to the opening of commercially prepared TCS foods, which can’t be consumed beyond their expiration date or a 7 day hold time—whichever comes first.  One often overlooked scenario is the proper date marking of prepared foods that are frozen for later use.  Freezing food may stop the growth of Listeria, but that’s not enough to kill it!

Freezing prepared TCS foods will stop the 7 day clock: however, the initial preparation and holding of the food has to be taken into account.  The table shown above gives an example of how such date marking should be implemented.  In this case, chicken was cooked and cooled, the morning of Day One and is date marked with the Date Prepared/Opened (October 1).   After being refrigerated for 2 days, it was then placed in the freezer the morning of Day Three and marked with that date as the Date Frozen (October 3).  The day that the prepared TCS food was removed from the freezer to thaw  is noted as the Pull Date (October 10) and the clock starts ticking again.

The time the prepared TCS food was held before freezing at 41°F or less (in this case two days, October 1 and 2) is subtracted from the 7 day total, which allows us to determine the Discard Date.  In this example, the Day Seven discard date marked is October 14.  Thus, the chicken must be consumed or discarded by the end of the day on October 14.

Click here for a date marking label template that can be used for tracking TCS food that is frozen after preparation. 

*Time and temperature control for safety

Food Safety Education Month Is Here!

A message from Food Program Manager Karen Gulley

Greetings during Food Safety Education Month!

During the month of September, we will be sharing information regarding new regulatory requirements and expectations in Georgia, along with reminders of basic food safety principles. A new resource entitled Food Safety Ninja will help with compliance in these areas. We give shout-outs to the Lake County General Health District (Ohio) for helping to make current food safety principles understandable in a fun and informative way.

Available in English, Spanish and Chinese, this project– which was funded by an FDA grant–uses short videos, narratives and quizzes, to explore proper date-marking (even when you’re freezing ready-to-eat foods), hand washing, chemicals, employee illness, cold and hot holding, reheating, and cooling. The site houses a wealth of information for anyone interested in food safety, especially food safety operators seeking tools for staff training.

Remember to always think food safety–and Happy Food Safety Education Month!