Last summer, a viral video of pranksters opening and licking the lids of Blue Bell ice cream containers caused panic, and sparked questions about why the company had not used protective seals on its containers. Since then, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been working to educate small-scale food producers about the need for enhanced safety.
“It’s a huge responsibility and we’re always thinking about public health,” says Mindy Brashears, deputy under secretary of Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “We don’t want to see anyone get sick from the food that they eat.”
Brashears oversees food safety related to meat, poultry and processed egg products. She says the USDA creates regulations, policies and guidance documents for industry. The agency also runs a meat and poultry hotline that people can call to get information on how to properly handle these products.
Brashears and her USDA team came to Austin Wednesday for what’s called a small plant roundtable – a meeting with small-scale food producers.
What you’ll hear in this segment:
– How USDA regulates food packaging
– What issues affect safety in small food processing plants
– How small plants’ safety issues differ from those of larger producers
Written by Morgan Kuehler.