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USDA Provides Tips and Resources for a Bacteria-Free Thanksgiving

More than 45 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving Day, with a never-ending list of side dishes and desserts. The Thanksgiving meal is by far the largest and most stressful meal many consumers prepare all year, leaving room for mistakes that can make guests sick. But never fear, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is available with tips and resources to make this Thanksgiving safe and stress-free.

“Turkey and other meat and poultry may contain Salmonella and Campylobacter that can lead to serious foodborne illness,” said acting FSIS Administrator Paul Kiecker. “By properly handling and cooking your turkey, you can avoid these harmful pathogens and ensure your family has a safe and healthy Thanksgiving feast.”

Begin by following these five steps:

Wash your hands, but not your turkey

Washing your hands before cooking is the simplest way to stop the spread of bacteria, while washing your turkey is the easiest way to spread bacteria all over your kitchen. According to the 2016 Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Survey, 68 percent of consumers wash poultry in the kitchen sink, which is not recommended by the USDA. Research shows that washing meat or poultry can splash bacteria around your kitchen by up to 3 feet, contaminating countertops, towels and other food. Washing doesn’t remove bacteria from the bird. Only cooking the turkey to the correct internal temperature will ensure all bacteria are killed.

The exception to this rule is brining. When rinsing brine off of a turkey, be sure to remove all other food or objects from the sink, layer the area with paper towels and use a slow stream of water to avoid splashing.

To stuff or not to stuff

For optimal food safety, do not stuff the turkey. Even if the turkey is cooked to the correct internal temperature, the stuffing inside may not have reached a temperature high enough to kill the bacteria. It is best to cook the stuffing in a separate dish.

Take the temperature of the bird

Although there are various ways to cook a turkey, the only way to avoid foodborne illness is to make sure it is cooked to the correct internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer. Take the bird’s temperature in three areas — the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing and the innermost part of the thigh — make sure all three locations reach 165ºF. If one of those locations does not register at 165ºF, then continue cooking until all three locations reach the correct internal temperature.

Follow the two-hour rule

Perishable foods should not be left on the table or countertops for longer than two hours. After two hours, food falls into the Danger Zone, temperatures between 40-140ºF, where bacteria can rapidly multiply. If that food is then eaten, your guests could get sick. Cut turkey into smaller slices and refrigerate along with other perishable items, such as potatoes, gravy and vegetables. Leftovers should stay safe in the refrigerator for four days.

When in doubt call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline

If you have questions about your Thanksgiving dinner, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert. You can also chat live at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish.

If you need help on Thanksgiving Day, the Meat and Poultry Hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET.

Consumers with food safety questions can visit FoodSafety.gov to learn more about how to safely select, thaw and prepare a turkey. For more Thanksgiving food safety tips, follow FSIS on Twitter, @USDAFoodSafety, or on Facebook, at Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov.


USDA Invests More Than $1 Billion to Improve Health Care in Rural Areas

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that USDA provided more than $1 billion in Fiscal Year 2017 to help improve access to health care services for 2.5 million people in rural communities in 41 states.

“USDA invests in a wide range of health care facilities – such as hospitals, clinics and treatment centers – to help ensure that rural residents have access to the same state-of-the art care available in urban and metropolitan areas,” Perdue said. “I understand that building a prosperous rural America begins with healthy people. Ensuring that rural communities have access to quality medical care is a top priority for USDA.”

USDA invested in 97 rural health care projects that served 2.5 million people in Fiscal Year 2017 through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. The loans can be used to fund essential community services. For health care, this includes constructing, expanding or improving health care facilities such as hospitals, medical clinics, dental clinics and assisted-living facilities, as well as to purchase equipment. Public bodies, non-profit organizations and federally recognized tribes in rural areas and towns with up to 20,000 people are eligible for these loans.

USDA financed Community Facilities direct loan projects in the following states: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

The following are a few examples of rural health care projects that USDA funded during FY 2017:

  • LifeQuest Nursing Center received a $40 million loan to build a 123-unit assisted-living facility in Quakertown, Pa. The company will also renovate and expand the kitchen and dining area, build a 10- to 15-bed memory care unit, and build an activity room for memory care residents.
  • The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas Inc. received a $2.8 million loan to construct a 14,000-square-foot health clinic that will house medical, dental and behavioral health services, a pharmacy, and support services. The new facility, in Iola, will enable the center to expand services, hire more staff and care for more patients. More than 13,000 residents will benefit.
  • Rural Development provided a $6.7 million loan to Valley Wide Health Systems Inc. in Cañon City Colo., (Fremont County) to convert a building to an integrated care center for primary, dental and behavioral health services. Consolidating these services into one building will provide better patient care and eliminate the need for patients to travel to different locations. The clinic anticipates an increase of more than 4,000 patients during its first year of operation.

Funding from USDA’s Community Facilities Direct Loan program is playing a major role in Ontario, Ohio. Avita Health System received $91.4 million to transform a vacant section of a shopping mall into a state-of-the-art hospital that provides vital health care, including substance use disorder treatment and mental health services. These services are essential for Ohio communities that have been affected by the opioid epidemic in recent years. The hospital, which opened in March 2017, serves more than 124,000 rural residents in Richland and Crawford counties.

In addition to health care, the new hospital is providing an economic boost in the form of good-paying, rural-based jobs. It has also been a lifeline to struggling stores and businesses by increasing foot traffic (and therefore business) in what had been a dying shopping mall that struggled after the closure of one of its major anchor stores.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; homeownership; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.


Inquisitiveness and high standards earn horticulturalist Jim Diermeier an Excellence in IPM award

Jim Diermeier has spent a lifetime perfecting his art, crafting year-round beauty and wonder with the most natural of palettes — plants. And now his work will be on display at the 2020 US Open Golf Tournament.

Core to his art? Science. Whether tried and true or testing the new, Diermeier is dedicated to keeping the gardens under his care healthy and pest-free by following the core tenets of integrated pest management, or IPM. Because integrated pest management is intelligent pest management.

Now, for his outstanding work in promoting IPM, both in practice and through educating others, Diermeier has received an Excellence in IPM award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYS IPM) at Cornell University.

Diermeier has held a number of high-profile positons, including associate director at the New York Botanical Garden and now horticulturalist at the Winged Foot Golf Club. Winged Foot, consistently listed as among the world’s top 100, has hosted the U.S. Open golf tournament five times and is preparing for the sixth in 2020.

At Winged Foot, Diermeier’s job is caring for the gardens that wrap around the historic clubhouse and its lawns like a quilted tapestry. “I’m constantly told how great the clubhouse grounds look and I can honestly say it’s all Jim,” says Director Stephen Rabideau.

At the New York Botanical Gardens, Jessica Schuler, director of the 50-acre old-growth Thain Forest, notes Diermeier’s careful attention to least-toxic IPM practices. And in so doing, Schuler says, “Jim initiated a paradigm shift.”

“If you know Jim, you will know no one more passionate about his industry and educating others,” says Elizabeth Seme, executive director of the NYS Turfgrass association, who nominated Diermeier for the Excellence in IPM award.

“Jim is a walking encyclopedia of IPM best practices, blessed with an inquisitive mind and the willingness to try new approaches,” says Jennifer Grant, director of the NYS IPM Program. “Now he’s ready to show IPM to the world at the 2020 US Open.”

Diermeier received his award on November 15 at the annual Turf & Grounds Exposition in Rochester, New York.


The deadline for poster abstract submission for the National IPM Symposium in Baltimore in March has been extended

Please note that the deadline for poster abstract submissions for National IPM Symposium in Baltimore in March has been extended. They will keep it open until Dec. 1, or they reach 200 posters, whichever comes first. **Submissions in Medical, Urban, and Veterinary categories are especially sought. So please encourage yourself or colleagues if you/they have materials of interest.

https://ipmsymposium.org/2018/


NIFA announces the release of the FY 2018 Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants (BRAG) RFA

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is pleased to announce the release of the FY 2018 Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants (BRAG) Program Request for Applications (RFA). The BRAG program supports environmental assessment research concerning the introduction of genetically engineered organisms into the environment.

NIFA Funding Opportunity Page: https://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding-opportunity/biotechnology-risk-assessment-research-grants-program-brag

Grants.gov Page: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=298508

Letter of Intent Deadline:  December 21, 2017

Application Deadline:  January 30, 2018

Please share this funding opportunity announcement to those that might be interested in applying.