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OHIO AGRICULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS URGE PROPER FOOD HANDLING

 COLUMBUS, Ohio, Feb. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Two statewide agriculture organizations and the Ohio Department of Agriculture merged their efforts to assure Ohio consumers that beef being sold throughout the state is safe.
 The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and the Ohio Beef Council joined the Ohio Department of Agriculture in encouraging consumers to learn how to properly handle all food products.
 "Currently, there are many controls in place to help ensure a safe and wholesome food supply," said Fred Dailey, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture and a beef cattle producer from Knox County. Federal and state inspectors closely examine livestock from the time it enters the slaughter house until the product leaves the facility. "However, it's important for everyone to remember that no matter what food product is consumed, it must be handled in a proper way to prevent food illness."
 According to the USDA, one handling mechanism is to cook all meats to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees. Such a temperature would destroy bacteria and other substances that could cause illness, much like a recent incident in the northwestern United States when improperly cooked beef was cited as the culprit in the deaths of two children and the illness of many more people.
 "Such incidents of contamination are extremely rare," said Kurt Ely, Ohio Farm Bureau's director of commodity programs. "This unfortunate, isolated situation in the Northwest is a brutal reminder of how important proper cooking techniques are."
 Beef producers fully support all measures that make sure their product is healthful when marketed through eating establishments or grocery stores.
 "Cattlemen have always been strong advocates for responsible food safety measures at all stages of the food production system," said Joe Foster, Ohio Beef Council chairman and Gallia County beef producer. "We support the USDA and state regulators in their efforts to ensure that all segments of the food processing and food services industries carry out their responsibilities for assuring food safety."
 For more information about how to properly cook various meats, contact the Ohio State University's Food Safety Hotline at 800-752-2751 or the Ohio Department of Agriculture at 800-282-1955.
 -0- 2/9/93
 /CONTACT: Kim Norris, Ohio Department of Agriculture, 614-752-4505; Elizabeth Harsh, Ohio Beef Council, 614-898-7771; or Susie Taylor, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, 614-249-2479/


CO: Ohio Farm Bureau ST: Ohio IN: SU:

BM -- CL021 -- 4872 02/09/93 17:18 EST
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Date:Feb 9, 1993
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