ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Standards Community Keeps Thanksgiving Table Treats Tasty

New York, Nov 13, 2002

Thanksgiving Day in America is a time of family gatherings and holiday meals. A time to offer thanks. A time of turkeys, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. The traditional celebration of a successful fall harvest began in 1621 when, after a hard and devastating first year in the New World, the Pilgrims found they had enough food to put away for the winter. William Bradford, Governor of the Pilgrims, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.

In 1817, New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.

This year, as the smells of turkey and stuffing roasting in the oven fill homes across the nation and anticipation builds for that first bite of the holiday feast, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a private non-profit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system, proudly highlights the Thanksgiving-related activities – especially those dealing with safety – of its members and accredited standards developers:

Recipes for Safer Cooking

According to experts at the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), an ANSI-member and accredited standards developer representing manufacturers of major and portable home and commercial appliances, careless cooking fires are one of the leading causes of household fires in the United States. With modern gas cook tops delivering between 500 to 15,000 BTUs per burner, range-tops are involved in nearly 8 of every 10 cooking fires. Further, improperly installed free-standing, slide-in and built-in kitchen ranges can tilt forward when someone applies too much pressure to an open oven door. The possible result may be injuries from the tipped range or scalds and burns from hot food and liquids. AHAM’s “Recipes for Safer Cooking” brochures offer a series of tips for the protection of those preparing Thanksgiving Dinner, and every other meal throughout the year.

Avoiding Turkey Trouble

Two ANSI members, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) assert that cooking food to its appropriate internal temperature is crucial for the enjoyment and safety of holiday diners. Via their websites, both organizations offer several ways to prevent food borne illness at family gatherings, including thawing and stuffing the turkey properly.

FDA and USDA experts indicate that the minimum oven temperature to cook turkey or other holiday meats is 325°F. Use care, they suggest, to ensure that the internal temperature of a turkey reaches at least 180°F. An undercooked turkey means there is a chance that bacteria still exist. Using a food thermometer is the only way to tell if food has reached a high enough temperature to destroy harmful bacteria while still keeping the bird tasty and juicy.

Deep Fried Turkey

An alternative to traditional roasting methods, deep-fat turkey fryers have gained national attention during recent years. The trend has increased in popularity because the deep-frying process seals the outside to a crisp while the interior remains very juicy.

However, Underwriter Laboratories, an ANSI-member and an ANSI-accredited standards developer, recently released a consumer alert that raised concerns about possible fire and injury hazards related to deep-fat turkey fryers. In particular, concerns were raised regarding turkey fryers’ stability, lack of temperature control and hot surfaces. While all cooking methods carry some risk of burns, this technique requires particular attention due to the extremely high temperatures of the hot oil used.

A task group formed by ANSI-Accredited Standards Committee Z21/83, the committee which oversees the safety standard covering turkey fryers (ANSI Z21.89-2000 Outdoor Cooking - Specialty Gas Appliances), is currently preparing a proposal for changes, and in the meantime has issued guidelines for safe use. The task group will include representatives from the U.S. and Canada product safety community, manufacturers and consumer advocates.

And for dessert . . .

Though most people would admit a preference for a homemade treat to finish off the Thanksgiving feast, more than a few of us may opt to purchase a pre-baked pie for the holiday meal.

In 1996, participants at the Conference for Food Protection recommended that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration work with a third party to develop a standard containing written specific criteria for challenge testing products traditionally considered to be potentially-hazardous foods. Products filled prior to baking, such as pumpkin, sweet potato, custard or meringue pies fall within this category.

NSF International, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer working in the area of public health and safety, reports that today’s bakery products such as soft pies and filled pastries are under increased regulatory scrutiny for food safety risks, especially when stored without refrigeration. NSF responded by developing ANSI/NSF 75-2000 Non-potentially Hazardous Foods, a standard that provides test methods and evaluation criteria to allow for the determination that a product does not require refrigeration for safety.

Working in the area of safety for the commercial baking industry – but with more of a baking focus – is the American Society of Baking (formerly known as the American Society of Bakery Engineers). A professional society comprised of members who are engaged in, involved with, or interested in wholesale or large-scale bakery production, ASB also serves as secretariat of ANSI-accredited standards committee Z50. Organization officials report the development of a new American National Standard for the enhanced design and construction of bakery machinery and equipment that can be readily maintained in a clean and safe condition. The standard will serve as a companion to Z50.1-2000, the standard for the safety requirements of bakery equipment.

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