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Archive for the ‘Food Safety’ Category

Eggs

April 17th, 2014
The "sell by" date is often stamped on the end of the carton.

The “sell by” date is often stamped on the end of the carton.

 Expiration Dates

We get a lot of calls about eggs and expiration dates. Remember to always purchase eggs before the “sell by” date stamped on the carton. Once you have the eggs home, they can be safely used for another 3 to 5 weeks. The “sell by” date will have passed during the storage time but they are still safe to use.

 
Floating Eggs

An egg will float in water when the air cell inside has enlarged enough to make the egg buoyant. This means the egg is older, but it may still be safe to use. Break the egg into a bowl to examine it for an off-odor or unsuitable appearance before you decide to use it or toss it away. A spoiled egg will have an unpleasant odor when you open the shell—raw or cooked. 

 

Eggs2

Be sure to check the eggs for cracks before purchase.

Cracked Eggs

Never buy cracked eggs; bacteria can enter an egg through the crack. If eggs crack on the way home from the store, break them into a clean container, cover tightly, and keep refrigerated. You must use them within 2 days.  Do not worry if the eggs crack during hard boiling; if they do the eggs are still safe

 

 

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Food Safety , , , ,

Ham storage times

April 7th, 2014

If you are wondering how long you can keep ham in your refrigerator it depends on how the ham is packaged.  This chart from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service will help you determine how long it will be safe for you to continue eating it.

ham storage chartIf you can’t remember how long your ham has been in the refrigerator remember the saying “if in doubt throw it out!”

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Food Safety

Pantry Pests

March 27th, 2014

Moths2There is nothing like the surprise you get when you open a package from your pantry and find “little friends” wiggling around inside. Finding insects inside stored food is a common problem.  There are many different types of insects that invade stored food. They eat a very small amount of food but most people find the remaining food unappetizing and unfit for consumption. Fortunately, the bugs do not fly, sting, or bite people.

Nearly all dry food products are susceptible to insect infestation, including flour, cake mix, cornmeal, rice, spaghetti, crackers, cookies, seeds such as dried beans and popcorn, nuts, chocolate, raisins and other dried fruits, spices, powdered milk, and cured meats. Non-food items can be infested too.  Some of these include birdseed, dry pet food, ornamental seed and dried plant displays, ornamental corn, dried flowers, garden seeds, potpourri, and rodent baits.

The infestation can happen anywhere; at the food processing plant, during transport or food storage, at grocery store, or inside your home. Food products that are left undisturbed on the shelves for long periods are particularly susceptible to infestation. However, foods of any age can become infested. Stored food insects are capable of penetrating unopened paper, thin cardboard, and plastic, foil or cellophane wrapped packages. They may chew their way into packages or crawl in through folds and seams. Insects within an infested package begin multiplying and can spread to other stored foods or food debris that has accumulated in corners, cracks and crevices, and eventually the entire cupboard. All stages (egg, larva, pupa, and adult) may be present simultaneously in infested products.

While it is not always possible to prevent an infestation, following these suggestions may limit your exposure to this problem.

  1.  Purchase dried foods in quantities small enough to be used up in a short period of time. Use oldest products before newer ones, and opened packages before unopened ones.
  2. Inspect packages or bulk products before buying. Packages should be sealed and unbroken. Also check the freshness packaging date. Look for evidence of insects, including holes in the packaging or wrapping.
  3. Store insect-free foods in tightly closed glass, metal or heavy plastic containers. Refrigerate or freeze small amounts of highly susceptible foods.
  4. Keep food storage areas clean. Do not allow crumbs or spilled food to accumulate. Remove and discard old, unused products and inspect the remainder.

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Cleaning, Food Safety

Whoops!

February 24th, 2014
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Convex bottom of can after freezing

Have you ever forgotten a bag of groceries in the car during the winter months when you are unloading your car?  If you have you may have wondered about the safety of canned goods that have frozen.  The problem that happens in canned goods is that when liquids freeze they expand.  If you notice that the cans are swollen, and you are sure the swelling was caused by freezing, the food may still be usable.  Put the cans in a container and put them in your refrigerator and let them thaw naturally before opening them.  After you open it if there is anything questionable in the look or smell of the food throw it out.  DO NOT TASTE IT!  If the seams of the can are rusted or burst, throw out the cans immediately.

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Food Safety, Winter

Food Safety and Football Food

January 30th, 2014

 

imageWhen you are gearing up for a party while watching football here are some things to keep in mind:

  1.  Keep cold foods cold.  This may mean setting that bowl of chip dip into a larger bowl containing ice.   The dip will remain safe for the entire game if it is kept cold in this way.
  2. Keep hot foods hot.  Those little sausages in barbeque sauce will be safe—for as long as they last—if you serve them from your crock pot.  Remember to keep the crock pot hot.
  3. Disposable plates and cups make it easier to host your party and clean plates can eliminate fresh food being in contact with the remains of food eaten during the pre-game introductions.
  4. If you plan to serve several different hot foods, consider staggering the serving time throughout the game.   This way you don’t need to worry about food cooling off and becoming unsafe.

Enjoy the game! Knowing that the food you are serving is safe.

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Food Preparation, Food Safety, Holiday ideas

Washing Fruits and Vegetables

January 13th, 2014
Fruit Wash 1

Fresh Fruit

Did you know it is important to wash all fruits and vegetables, even if you plan on peeling them? Fruits and vegetables can pick up dust and soil as they are being harvested, handled, packed, and shipped. They may also have trace amounts of chemicals and bacteria on the outer tissues that can be removed by washing.  The following are suggestions for safe handling of fruits and vegetables:

Wash all fruits and vegetables in clean drinking water before eating. The ideal water temperature to use for most produce is between 80 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash the produce just before you plan to use it, not when you put it away. Lettuce, on the other hand, can be rinsed before refrigerating to help maintain crispness. Produce used in salads, such as lettuce, radishes, carrots, etc., should be washed in the coldest tap water available to maintain crispness. To get maximum crispness, immerse the greens in a mixture of ice cubes and water about a half-hour before serving.

The best method for washing ripe or fragile berry fruits—strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries—is by spraying with a kitchen sink sprayer. Use a colander so you can gently turn the fruit as you spray. If you do not have a sink sprayer, berries and soft fruit should be placed in a wire basket or colander into a 5 to 8 quart pot of warm water. Move the basket in and out of the water several times. Change the water until the water remains clear. Do this process quickly. If the fruit absorbs too much water, it will lose flavor, texture, and aroma.

Do not use detergent when washing fruits and vegetables. The detergent residues will be left on the fruits and vegetables. Since produce items are porous, they might also absorb the detergent. If you would like to make your own fruit and vegetable wash, follow this recipe: 1 quart water, 2 T. baking soda, 2 T. grapefruit or other acidic juice and 1 tsp cream of tartar. This mixture can be refrigerated for up to 2-3 weeks and is safe for human consumption.

There are more fruits and vegetables on the market every day. Wash them well and enjoy the goodness of the season!

Carolyn

Food Preparation, Food Safety

Food Safety

December 23rd, 2013

 

Part 1 Thanksgiving

We talk a lot about food safety at holiday time.  This graphic was developed by the Partnership for Food Safety Education and the National Turkey Federation this year just before Thanksgiving. All of the information is still very pertinent for Christmas celebrations. Actually, the section with tips for shopping applies all year long and is just as important to follow all year long. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving part 2

 It is important to remember to practice safe food handling techniques while we prepare holiday meals. Often we are serving the elderly, very young, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems. These people are the most susceptible to any food borne illness.

Hand washing, refrigeration, and clean surfaces are important considerations.  We should take care not to cross contaminate surfaces—no raw fruits or vegetables on the same cutting board that held raw meat.

 

 

 

Thanksgiving part 3

 It is so easy to lose track of how long those leftovers have been stored in the refrigerator.  When we have company in the house it is easy for things to travel to the back of the refrigerator or to be put in places in the refrigerator that we would not typically store them. Labeling leftovers with a date they should be discarded would be a good habit for the New Year.   

 

 

 

 

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Food Preparation, Food Safety, Holiday ideas

Mailing Holiday Cookies

December 12th, 2013

Preparing cookies for mailingThe holidays are rapidly approaching, making me think about the cookies I want to bake this season and for whom I will bake them. When thinking about mailing cookies, it is important to remember these things:

  1. Always let cookies cool completely before packing.
  2. Drop and bar cookies are recommended, avoiding cookies that are fragile, crumbly or frosted.
  3. Chocolate-covered cookies tend to melt and should be avoided.
  4. A sturdy container should be used for mailing, including boxes, coffee cans or tins.
  5. Line containers with foil or plastic wrap. Seal cookies in an airtight bag; wrap individually or in pairs, back-to-back, separated by waxed paper. Place a layer of filler (tightly crumpled waxed paper or popped corn) on the bottom of the container. Arrange cookies in rows and place a layer of filler between each layer and on top before closing the lid. Cookies should also be no closer to the edge of box than 2 inches. Make certain there is no movement in carton, once filled and lid is in place.
  6. If packing several kinds of cookies, place heavier cookies on the bottom. Irregularly shaped containers should be placed in a box and cushioned before wrapping.
  7. DON’T send high moisture foods (brownies or quick breads).

Assuming you have chosen your recipe(s) wisely and wrapped the cookies with care, in good time your loved ones can look forward to receiving goodies in the mail from you.

Carolyn

Food Preparation, Food Preservation, Food Safety, Holiday ideas

Happy Thanksgiving

November 28th, 2013

 

ThanksgivingHappy Thanksgiving

 

Now that Thanksgiving has arrived, and we have enjoyed a big meal with family, it is time to think about the leftovers. That fabulous dinner you prepared usually provides leftovers for several more meals. Remember to refrigerate those leftovers promptly; within 2 hours of serving the food. Package the food into smaller containers so that the food cools rapidly. A general rule of thumb is to use or freeze leftovers within 4 days. You can also package the leftovers by the plate full to enjoy the food at a later date.

 

 

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Food Preparation, Food Safety, Holiday ideas

Cooking your turkey

November 26th, 2013

imageWe have talked about how to safely thaw your turkey but now it is time to cook it.  Remember to remove the neck and giblets from the turkey cavity before cooking.  These should be cooked separately.  Follow these steps for a wonderful product.

  • Set your oven temperature no lower than 325° F.
  • Place your turkey on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. 
  • Tuck the wings under the shoulders of the bird.
  • Add ½ cup of water to the bottom of the pan.
  • For the first 1 hour to 1 ½ hour cover with the lid of the pan or a tent of foil.  Remove after this time for the turkey to get a nice brown color.
  • Check the temperature of the turkey to make sure it has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F.  Use your meat thermometer to measure the temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.
  • Let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving to keep the meat juicy.
  • If you are stuffing a turkey mix the ingredients just before stuffing it.  Stuff the turkey loosely; do not pack it tightly.  It will take additional baking time for a stuffed turkey and it is important to check the temperature of the stuffing as well to make sure that it reaches the 165° temperature.

The following chart will help you determine how long to cook your turkey.

Unstuffed turkey  (time in hours)

  • 4 to 6 lb breast..1 ½ to 2 ¼
  • 6 to 8 lb breast..2 ¼ to 3 ¼
  • 8 to 12 lbs……….2 ¾ to 3
  • 12 to 14 lbs……..3 to 3 ¾
  • 14 to 18 lbs……..3 ¾ to 4 ¼
  • 18 to 20 lbs……..4 ¼ to 4 ½
  • 20 to 24 lbs……..4 ½ to 5

Stuffed turkey (time in hours)

  • 8 to 12 lbs……….3 to 3 ½
  • 12 to 14 lbs……..3 ½ to 4
  • 14 to 18 lbs……..4 to 4 ¼
  • 18 to 20 lbs……..4 ¼ to 4 ¾
  • 20 to 24 lbs……..4 ¾ to 5 ¼

We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Food Preparation, Food Safety, Holiday ideas