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“Should I be concerned about pesticides?”

Traditional farming methods employ pesticides to protect crops from mold, insects and diseases—and in the process keep those problems out of the food chain. Organic farming methods do not use chemicals, but can have high levels of natural fungal toxins.

It is possible for slight residue from both methods to be present in food. And while studies conducted by the Mayo Clinic show that this residue poses no cumulative danger to humans, there is no substitute for thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables before preparing. It’s equally important to cook meat and poultry thoroughly, and to properly refrigerate dairy products.

“I’ve seen news reports about antibiotic use in livestock causing a super-bug. Is it safe to feed my family meat?”

Absolutely. Under federal laws, no meat or milk products are allowed to be shipped if there is any antibiotic residue; it’s illegal. Veterinarians and farmers adhere to strict withholding times on all medications given to animals.

It’s important to understand why some farmers use antibiotics with their livestock. If a food animal becomes sick, a farmer will work with their veterinarian to determine the best course of action for the safety and comfort of the animal. Sometimes that means giving them an antibiotic to hasten their recovery from disease. If an antibiotic is used, animals do not enter the food chain with antibiotics in them. So the selective use of antibiotics actually helps provide safe food.

Scientists and medical experts agree that hospital- and community-acquired diseases, unrelated to animal drug use, are the major issue in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. There is no scientifically proven link that shows such resistance was transferred from livestock to humans.* (*Source: Ron Jones, M.D., Primary Investigator, SENTRY program “Contemporary Patterns of Antibiotic Resistance in Humans”)

Dr. Lisa Veach, Infectious Disease Specialist - Iowa Health of Des Moines, says the superbug “MRSA” that is resistant to most antibiotics is a people bug, not something you can get from eating meat from livestock raised with antibiotics. Learn More

“My family’s well-being is my number-one concern, so when there’s a food recall, I make sure I get all the facts. But it always makes me wonder: How safe is the food we eat?”

It seems like there are recalls of all kinds making the news, but it’s important to know that what has changed is the way and speed of which recalls are covered; not the number of food recalls. Food safety testing methods have improved and that, combined with the speed and frequency of the media which reports recalls, has improved our access to all kinds of information about not just food, but toys, baby furniture, cars and computers.

U.S. food safety system is considered the gold standard by most nations. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) noted that food-borne illness rates are the lowest they’ve been since they started collecting data in 1995. Between 2000 and 2008, the number of people getting sick from E. coli was down by 44%. And, the cases of E. coli in ground beef has gone down 59% over the last nine years. But, it still means the consumer feeding their family has to use safe food handling and preparations for meat and poultry and thoroughly wash all produce. Statistically, you have a five times greater risk of being injured by a jellyfish sting than getting sick from a food-borne pathogen today. For information on food recalls, visit

“But weren’t foods safer before the advent of industrialized agriculture?”

On the contrary, food safety has been one of the biggest benefits of large-scale agriculture. The number of deaths from food-borne illnesses has dropped dramatically in the past century, from 142.7 per 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century to about 1.4 per 100,000 today. In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that the overall incidence of food-borne illness has been decreasing since 1996.

“I know that once the food is home, food safety is my responsibility. How long should I keep leftovers?” offers a ten-point list of general rules regarding leftover storage. Be sure not to let food sit out more than two hours after preparation, and promptly refrigerate leftovers in shallow containers, making sure there’s room for cold air to circulate around them. Stored properly, leftovers generally last 3–5 days.

“I’ve heard you should let food cool before storing it in the refrigerator. Is this true?”

Not necessarily. Your refrigerator will use more energy if you put hot food in it, but that’s a minor point compared to the rate of bacterial growth that occurs when food sits at room temperature. For safety’s sake, you’re better off putting that hot food in the fridge.

My family’s well-being is my number-one concern, so when there’s a food recall, I make sure I get all the facts.

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“Modern food technology and food processing has allowed for the development of a safer, more plentiful and more sustainable food supply than ever before, and both fresh and processed foods can be safe, nutritious and environmentally responsible choices.”

“From Farm to Fork: What the Experts Say About Modern Food Production”

“The safety of food in the United States is better than any other place in the world. We have the most stringent regulations. . . ”

—Roger Clemens, DrPH, Professor, School of Pharmacy, University of Southern California

“I think the safety of the food supply is really excellent. We do have good safety assurance programs in place.”

—Robert Gravani, PhD, Professor of Food Science, Cornell University