What is Food Waste?

Food waste (also known as food loss) is classified as food “that is discarded or unable to be used”. The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines food waste as “uneaten food and food preparation wastes from residences and commercial establishments”.

In the United States alone in 2011,  at least 36 million tons of food waste was generated!  1.3 billion tons of food throughout the world is lost or wasted, yearly. 1.3 billion is about 1/3 of the total food produced in the world! Be it from the food either used or going bad, to the misleading “Best By” or “Expire By” labels, to the misconceptions and disgust of purchasing aesthetically imperfect produced or groceries,  to even the lack of knowledge for further uses of byproducts, Americans – nay, all of us as citizens of this world– waste a lot of food.

However, to take one step towards minimizing the most basic food waste issue (discarding food) we here at Kitchology.com hope to change your kitchen and better improve your eating habits with innovative ideas so that you can make the most of your delicious food purchases.

Last month, as part of our commitment to promoting food waste and reduce the indiscriminate discarding of food, Kitchology gladly accepted the USDA Food Waste Challenge (blog link). The USDA Food Waste Challenge (link here) is built upon the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge to raise awareness amongst Americans to reduce food waste. As such, over the next week (or two), we will talk more about the food waste issue in the United States and how you can not only minimize your food excess and food waste, but also maximize your food purchases and consumption with becoming bored.

Additionally, as you’ve probably seen, every Friday, we are promoting the theme of “Food Friday” geared towards you for something to eat or to try for the weekend. Last Friday (July 5th), we began addressing the food waste issue by providing you with delicious solutions for your delightful 4th of July leftovers (blog link). Leftovers are a huge part of food waste; sometimes the food spoils, sometimes we no longer want to eat them because we’ve eaten the same thing one too many times, and other times they’re simply forgotten about. We’d like to put a spin to the food you eat, how you handle the food, and what to do with it. Stay tuned!

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4th of July! Time to Eat, but SAFETY FIRST!

Hello Dear Readers,

We are one day away from the Independence of our United States; the great 4th of July. Get out the fireworks! Pour out the drinks! Light up the grill! Are you getting ready for another year of delicious BBQ, family hangout time, and fun activities?

But, you know what’s worse than that awful hangover you may have from one-too-many-beers (or insert drink or activity of choice here) the next day? Keeling over the porcelein throne heaving your guts out and being incredibly sick in bed with possible fevers and chills the next day. What could it have come from? Was it the egg salad? Was it the meat?

The pain. The agony. The tortuous hours you could have been spent having fun, but instead were awfully sick with “the bug” is indeed preventable! Indeed, The super common 24-hour “flu”, as we all call it, is actually from toxin formation (especially from Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus) within foods that have not been stored at the right temperatures or are left to sit out for long periods of time!

Don’t forget, first and foremost, that food safety (proper handling and storage) is imperative to a delightful and eventful weekend of shenanigans.

Ready to Eat ALL the delicious food?

Here are 4 simple tips offered by the FDA to best prevent food poisoning!

USDA Blog Infographic

Clean and wash hands, counter-tops, and other surfaces often.

  • Wash your hands with Soap and Water! A good rule of thumb here is to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Don’t forget to scrub between your fingernails too!
  • WASH YOUR HANDS between handling meats, vegetables, raw, and cooked products.
  • Keep Towels and a Sanitizer In the Kitchen. Every time there is a spill, or splatter, make sure to wipe it up!

Separate and don’t cross-contaminate.

  • Keep MEATS and VEGETABLES separate.
  • Use different cutting boards and plates for meats/poultry/seafood, vegetables, raw, and cooked products.
  • WASH YOUR HANDS between handling meats, poultry, seafood, vegetables, raw, and cooked products.

Cook food to proper temperatures to kill the harmful bacteria.

  • ALWAYS USE A FOOD THERMOMETER. I know, I know…you’re recipe passed down the family says to cook it, and poke the center. “If it pokes back, then it’s ready to eat!” Please don’t do this! Please use a thermometer to test the inside of your food. Oftentimes, it is because the proper temperatures are not met within the food product (especially meats, poultry, and seafood) that foodborne illness occurs. 
  • Do not thaw foods at room temperature; thaw in the refrigerator!

Attached is a copy of the “Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures” Chart as provided by Foodsafety.gov

Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures For Food

Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures For Food

Store and refrigerate food (and leftovers) ASAP!

  • The super common 24-hour “flu”, as we all call it, is actually from toxin formation (especially from Bacillus cereus and Staphylococus aureus) within foods that have not been stored at the right temperatures or are left to sit out for long periods of time! 
Keep Hot Foods above 135F, Keep Cold Foods below 41F

Keep Hot Foods above 135F, Keep Cold Foods below 41F

  • Especially if the weather is hot, please refrigerate all your food within 1 hour.
  • Do not leave food at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
  • There are other guidelines for this; however, we’re assuming that you are enjoying the hot (perhaps humid) summer weather for this 4th of July. Please remember to put your food into the refrigerator.
  • Use a Cooler! 🙂
  • Again, do not thaw foods at room temperature.
  • Reheat leftovers thoroughly!

These basic food safety tips are provided to you by the FDA and the USDA. For further information, please click on the links provided below!

Here’s to all of you having a safe, enjoyable, and fun Fourth of July!

Happy Independence Day!

For Further Food Safety Links and Sites

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Harmony Chai Recall of Black Spiced Chai & Decaf Rooibos Chai

Harmony Chai Recall of Concentrated Black Spiced Chai and Decaffeinated Rooibos Chai

Due to Possible Health Risk – Botulism

Reason: Possible Clostridium botulinum  contamination; presence of organism may lead to toxin production.
Type of Recall: Voluntary by Company – not properly processed

Packs/Codes Information:

Concentrated Black Spiced Chai [22 oz. (650 mL) & 64 oz. (1892.7 mL)
Harmony Chai Concentrated Black Spiced Chai [22 oz (650 mL)]

Harmony Chai Concentrated Black Spiced Chai (22 oz.)
UPC 0510501311

Harmony Chai Concentrated Black Spiced Chai [64 oz. (1892.7mL)] UPC: 0510501301

Harmony Chai Concentrated Black Spiced Chai (64 oz.)
UPC 0510501301

Decaffeinated Roobois Chai 22 oz (624.25 mL)
Harmony Chai Decaffeinated Roobios Chai (22 oz & 64 oz) [UPC 9450402431 & 0510501301]

Harmony Chai Decaffeinated Roobios Chai (22 oz )
UPC 9450402431

Harmony Chai Decaffeinated Roobios Chai (64 oz) [UPC 0510501301]

Harmony Chai Decaffeinated Roobios Chai (64 oz.)
UPC 0510501301

  • Concentrated Black Spiced Chai: UPC 0510501311 (22 oz.) ;  UPC 0510501301 (64 oz.)
  • Decaffeinated Roobios Chai: UPC 9450402431 (22 oz.) ; UPC 0510501301 (64 oz.)

Distribution: Western Washington farmers markets, grocery stores, cafes [San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, and King Counties]

Action for Consumers: 

  • Botulism can be potentially fatal food poisoning: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision, trouble with speak or swallowing, difficulty breathing, weak muscles, constipation/abdominal distension. Onset of symptoms within 48 hours to 1 week. Seek medical attention if expressing symptoms.
  • Return product to place of purchase for full refund. 

Company Contact: 

Harmony Chai
P.O. Box 792
Attn: Recall Division
Eastsound, WA 98245

[Link to FDA Recall]

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Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels Recall

Scenic Fruit Company Recalls Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels

Due to Possible Health Risk – Hepatitis A Virus

Reason: Possible Hepatitis A virus contamination
Type of Recall: Voluntary by Company – Association with ongoing epidemiological and traceback investigation by FDA
Packs/Codes Information:
Eight-ounce (227 gram) resealable plastic pouces
UPC Code 0-42563-01628-9
Lot Numbers
  • C 0129 (A, B, or C) 035 ; Best By Date: 02/04/2015
  • C0388 (A, B, or C) 087; Best By Date: 03/28/2015
  • C0490 (A, B, or C) 109; Best By Date: 04/19/2015

Distribution: Products shipped between Feb 2013 – May 2013 [California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania  Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington]

Action for Consumers: 

  • Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease, which in some cases may lead to liver failure.
  • If you have consumed said product, please contact your health care professional or local health department immediately.
  • Do not consumer this product.
  • Discard this product immediately.
  • Keep proof of purchase.

Company Contact: Scenic Fruit Company at 877-927-3434 or email to info@scenicfruit.com from Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. PDT

[Link to FDA Recall]

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A Quick Intro to US Food Recalls

Disclaimer: I wrote this article for Kitchology’s blog today (Jun 13, 2013). Kitchology is a startup seeking to “create menus based on your family’s preferences and restrictions” with a specialized focus on individuals with dietary restrictions (ie: allergens, intolerances, etc.) You can visit our BLOG (link) or the WEBSITE (link)…although both are still under construction. Please leave us any feedback of interest.

You turn on the television and lo’ and behold, your favorite food has been declared unsafe to eat, the produce you bought yesterday seems to be contaminated with some pathogen, an allergen you hadn’t expected in the specific food you bought was suddenly revealed, and the list can go on! “What’s happening? What do I do?” you exclaim to yourself. The news seems dire and distressing in some cases (with authorities declaring that you should throw out or return the product at once) and in others it is merely an offhanded discussion.

Recalls, specifically in our case, food recalls, are a touchy but important topic in ensuring continued food safety and working food system.

     Recall : When a regulated item is determined to be either (a) defective, or (b) harmful thereby leading “removal from the market or correcting the problem” [3].

  • What is the purpose? 

To keep consumers like you and me safe!

  • When does this happen? 

Whenever a product is (a) contaminated, (b) mislabeled, or (c) adulterated.

  • Who declares these recalls? 

One of two agencies: (a) FDA [Food and Drug Administration], or (b) USDA FSIS [United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Services]

  • Where can I find out about recalls?

There are multiple resources (federal and private) to locate food recalls. Or you can stay on the Kitchology blog here and tune in every week for a list of compiled recalls! 🙂 Federal and private recall websites can be found at the bottom of this post.

  • Are there different types of recalls?

While recalls are voluntary, the government can request – or “force the hand” – of companies to declare a recall if the threat is great enough.

Indeed, there are 3 classes of food recalls:

  • Class I – The food product has an incredibly high chance of causing serious health problems & even death. (ie: Salmonella, E. coli 0157:H7,  or Listeria monocytogenes contamination, undeclared allergens, high levels of metals, botulism toxin)
  • Class II – The food product has the potential to be a health hazard but whatever illness incurred can be treated. (ie: foreign physical objects, wheat allergens, certain other pathogens)
  • Class III – The food product violates FDA/USDA labeling or manufacturing laws. Unlikely to cause negative health effects. (ie: low pesticide levels, mislabeling, unnecessary dents in containers)

If there is a Class I recall on the product that you have or are consuming – seek immediate medical attention if you begin feeling ill & notify a public health official. If you have yet to eat the product and it’s still sitting there in your refrigerator or in your cabinets toss it out immediately. 

Hopefully this covers the very basics of food recalls for y’all! 🙂

Besides our Kitchology site, here are some official websites to check out for the most recent food recall activities:

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at: lily.yang@kitchology.com

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