When you are thinking about spring cleaning, don’t forget the kitchen. Harmful bacteria can be lurking on kitchen surfaces or even in the refrigerator. The kitchen is a warm environment with water and food sources – everything bacteria need to grow and reproduce. Plus, a clean and dry kitchen will prevent pest infestation as well as protecting your family from food borne illnesses.
Some cleaning tips to make your kitchen and meals safer are:
1. Clean food surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water. You can sanitize with a bleach solution (1 tablespoon regular bleach to 1 gallon of water; concentrated bleach use 2 teaspoons). Spray or wipe on clean surface and let air dry. Grilling season may mean you are using wood cutting boards more frequently; these in particular should get the clean and bleach treatment because the cut marks etched in the wood are a nice hiding spot for germs.
2. Launder dishcloths and kitchen towels frequently in a washing machine with hot water. Keep this load separate from other types of clothing, like dirty socks. Damp dishcloths can harbor bacteria and when wet, bacteria may even grow, so be sure kitchen linens are dry.
3. Clean up spills immediately in the refrigerator. To avoid build-up of bacteria, mold and mildew, clean interior routinely with hot soapy water, rinse and then dry with a clean cloth. Doing so just before a trip to the grocery store would be a good time. Chlorine bleach can weaken seals and gaskets, and harm some interior materials so don’t use the bleach solution here.
4. Use the dilute bleach solution after cleaning the kitchen sink and run through garbage disposal once a week or so. Food particles trapped in the drain can create an environment for bacteria to grow.
I get a lot of e-newsletters which are interesting to read/skim and help me get a sense of what is important to various stakeholder groups. A consistent and persistent theme is this sense of distrust – distrust of the government, of big business, and basically anyone that a person doesn’t know. This explains partially the continued trend for local food systems – it’s like that song from the TV show Cheers – a place where everyone knows your name. Human scientists get it because this is part of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – after basic fundamentals of food and shelter are covered, humans long for a sense of belonging. You can hear it in how people describe connections – “I know a guy” or “My fill in blank can take care of that” – social media has made this a lot easier with Facebook Friends and Twitter followers. The knowing expands to a sense of trust – even without really knowing the foundation for the trust. Because of distrust with food production, some have advocated for full transparency with farm cams – web cameras placed on farms so consumers can see what is going on. Famed animal scientist Dr. Temple Grandin has suggested use of cameras on farms to provide full transparency to Doubting Toms and Tomosinas regarding animal welfare practices. So, let’s take the idea further – how about at other points of the food chain – food in transit and preparation sites – to monitor all aspects of operation, including food safety? 24/7 technology already has security cameras in public venues – streets, sidewalks, and airports to name a few. Some schools have in place. Private companies may have in place for security purposes but maybe these are also used to monitor staff (and customers) but the footage is internally banked. What is the next step? Open kitchens are not new in the restaurant biz – but is anywhere/anytime viewing coming? Food for thought with many issues to digest.
Hello! My name is Emma Vsetecka, and I am guest blogging this week! I have the opportunity to help Dr. Strohbehn throughout the semester with any projects she needs an extra hand with, and as a result, I have become more aware of food safety practices. That is why I was intrigued with an article about the new food delivery service provided by Uber. You have all heard of the company that pioneered a new approach to transportation services (it is like a taxi but regular people sign up to provide the ride in their own vehicles). UberEATS offers different meal services but cannot customize to personal needs, such as food allergies or intolerances. Restaurants have to agree to participate in this new service, which, unlike other delivery options, only takes food to the curbside and not directly to the door. When reading about this new option, as well as thinking about other delivery services, I wondered how safety of the product is assured when it is in custody of delivery person. How clean is the vehicle? How was food protected during the ride from direct (is it covered?) or indirect contamination (can someone lift the cover and put something on it)? It is advertised that any meal will be delivered in 10 minutes, but what if there isn’t a driver available near the locations – is there a chance of temperature abuse? Who is responsible for the food I have purchased – am I? While I am all about convenience – the food safety messages I have been exposed to have stuck so quick and easy aren’t the only criteria any more.
Hi everyone! My name is Kylie and I’m a guest blogger this week. I am an Iowa State University grad and now I’m one of their dietetic interns. As an intern I live quite a busy life and it doesn’t always leave time for me to cook or even eat with my family. Fortunately, I have great parents that will cook for me and leave me a lot of leftovers. It did however get me thinking about how safe it is to eat leftovers. Saving and eating leftovers can be a huge time saver but only if we handle them safely. If we get sick, life isn’t too good. According to the USDA, not cooking food to safe temperatures and leaving food out in unsafe temperatures are the two main causes of foodborne illnesses. The CDC reports that each year 1 in 6 people in the United States get sick. So if you’re planning on having food for leftovers make sure you are cooking the food to hot enough temperatures to kill pathogens. There is tons of info on the Iowa State University Food Safety Project web site too. Extension offers so many resources to Iowans on staying healthy and happy. The USDA also recommends to wrap or store leftovers in airtight containers to help keep out bacteria, retain moisture, and generally help save the quality of food. It is important to get the leftovers into the refrigerator or freezer within two hours to get them cooled to a safe temperature. It is also important to note that food can be left in the fridge for 3-4 days and the freezer 3-4 months. Remember when reheating, to thaw food safely put it in the fridge then cook it and be sure to reheat the food to an internal temperature of 165°F. Another good tip is you can safely refreeze food after thawing or cooking as long as the cooked food has reached 165°F! Safely handling leftovers can result in less food waste and saved time as well as reduced chance of having a foodborne illness! Find out more information from your extension office!
My name is Sophie Delima, and I’m currently a dietetic intern in the Iowa State University Internship program. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to complete a one-week distance community rotation with Dr. Catherine Strohbehn at the Iowa State University Human Sciences Extension and Outreach. Prior to the start of my rotation, I was familiar to some extent with some of the projects and work conducted by extension specialists. Back in Delaware, I had worked as a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP ED) nutrition educator for another land grant university – Delaware State University- with Cooperative Extension for three years. I had the opportunity to collaborate with others and learned about food safety, small farms and 4-H Youth development. I even obtained my ServSafe® certification through extension. Hence, when I found out I was going to have the opportunity to work with the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, I was super excited to learn more.
I reviewed the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach web site to better understand the mission of extension and to learn more about the numerous programs extension and outreach offer in the state of Iowa. Did you know that Extension and Outreach serves all of the 99 counties across Iowa connecting the needs of Iowans with research and resources though Iowa State University? Extension and Outreach offer programs in areas such as 4-H Youth Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Community & Economic Development, and Human Sciences. By participating in these programs, one can learn about economic development, food and environment, health and well-being, and kids and teens. Websites provide great resources. Interested in Food Safety? Check the information on the Food Safety Project website to understand fresh produce risks. Watch educational videos in regards to different topics, learn more about events and conference taking place in your area. Have a concern? You can even ask ISU Extension Experts questions, and contact a specialist in your area. Overall, I learned a great number of information about Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The experience has broadened my perspective regarding the research, projects, and programs conducted by Extension and Outreach so the people of Iowa can have a better understand the food choices they make and improve quality of their lives. As a future dietitian, I know that is important! #STRONGIOWA
My name is Abby Ginader, and I’m a dietetic intern in the Iowa State University Dietetics Internship. This week, I had a great opportunity to complete a one week community rotation with the Iowa State University Human Sciences Extension and Outreach with Dr. Catherine Strohbehn. I graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead MN this past December with a degree in Food, Nutrition and Dietetics. I entered college with very little idea of what I wanted to do (and without any knowledge that ‘dietitian’ was even a career). Once I discovered the field at the end of my freshman year, I immediately jumped right in and the past 3 years since has been a continual learning process. I am continually amazed by the scope and variety of jobs and facilities that dietitians work in, and my week with Iowa State University Human Extension and Outreach only added to the amazement. I spent this week both getting to know the ISU Extension and Outreach websites and materials to better understand the mission and structure as well as updating educational materials. During my work this week, I was particularly interested in and impressed with www.iowafoodsafety.org. This website is a phenomenal site about food safety for anyone from a producer, to a foodservice organization, to an individual consumer. It covers relevant topics, the most asked questions, and the most important information. Its handouts and resources are visually stimulating as well as educational. The website even contains ‘how to’ videos to help educate the individual. This is an ever growing and changing field, and these resources are indispensable in the midst of it all. Prior to this week, I had no knowledge of the projects, work and resources that the University Extension and Outreach had to offer. Now, I am pleased to know about the scope of resources that are freely available. As I continue the journey of my dietetic internship and become a practitioner, it is good to know about this source of information.
My name is Maria Peterson, and I am guest writing as an ISU Dietetic Intern. This week I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Strohbehn of the ISU Human Sciences Extension and Outreach Program to help update and create educational materials. I had no previous knowledge of the Extension program and was curious to learn what types of information it offered. After spending some time looking through its resources, I was very impressed by the scope of the materials and programs which cover the essentials of food safety at every level of production and consumption. These materials help to remind us that although food safety is the responsibility of the producers and commercial kitchens, it is equally critical that consumers take part in steps to prevent foodborne illness. This program, which provides a reliable source of that information for both regular people and those working in the food industry, is indispensable. The demand for food safety knowledge is increasing as the movement for sustainable local produce grows. Making sure that these initiatives are not halted by avoidable foodborne illness outbreaks is incredibly important. I am glad to have been given the opportunity to help contribute to this valuable community resource, and am excited to see what new developments will come from the recently awarded FDA grant to establish a Regional Center for Food Safety Training. Whatever progress is made to extend the conversation about food safety in our every changing food environment is a worthwhile endeavor.
All of the gazillion food items at the grocery store began with some type of raw ingredient that was either grown or produced. Even the most processed food item has its roots from the farm. But who is producing these raw ingredients? The Census of Agriculture identifies the average age of farmers in the US is 58.3 years; in 1945 (the first year reported) it was 48.7. Then, 14 percent of farmers were over the age of 65; now it is 33. Of course, farming is more mechanized now and Americans are living longer with improved health care, so age upticks are reasonable. But are seeds being planted to grow more farmers? The world population is increasing – which means more mouths to feed. The US government also tracks birth rates; it is projected more babies will be born each year than peak year of boomers, my cohort. So, the question is, will any of these future babies become the farmers and ranchers of tomorrow? In a Feedstuff Foodlinks blog post, Megan Brown identifies some of the challenges as a 6th generation farmer – mainly financial (like many she has student loans) and stress (mental and physical) in dealing with high operational costs and fluctuating income– but she also points out the sense of pride and accomplishment from her work, something she says needs to be better communicated. Survey after survey of millennials notes their desire to have meaningful work and make a contribution to the world. Well, feeding the world certainly makes a difference! Agriculture is the world’s oldest profession but it is a risky business as so many make-break factors are outside farmers’ control. Will the call be answered?
March 15th is National Ag Day – a day to appreciate those involved with agriculture and advocate on their behalf. As a food consumer (a frequent food consumer I might add) I certainly appreciate the end result. As someone who married into a farm family my worldview of food has broadened from that of a “food comes from the grocery store” to “wow, look at all these items at the grocery store and what was involved in getting them here” perspective. For example, I have always enjoyed a cheeseburger (or as Jimmy Buffet would say – a “Cheeseburger in Paradise”). And back in the day, would have focused only on the product from grocery store to grill to mouth. But now, after 30 odd years of living with a cattle producer, and assisting at various times with sorting and feeding (not so elegantly when boots got stuck in the mud) I recognize that cheeseburger goes back several more links from the grocery store – back to the lot where some farmer took care of the animal and ensured a safe and quality product arrived at the store. If you have an opportunity, look beyond the finished product and envision what it took to create. Local food trends have resulted in more Farmers Markets, which are an excellent opportunity to visit with someone who truly understands food production – the conversation will likely broaden your own view of food and lead to a better understanding of where and how it is produced, and a greater appreciation for those who follow the call to become a farmer. National Ag Day is a shout out to the nation’s farmers and ranchers – and an invitation to connect and begin a conversation.
Well, we aren’t supposed to, but admit it, packaging of food at the grocery store does affect our decisions. It is one part of the merchandising plan. And on the package, there are requirements to provide nutrition, ingredient, and contact information so consumers can make informed decisions. I just read an article in Iowa Farmer Today reporting on the Iowa Farm Bureau’s survey to compile the Food and Farm Index. The survey is administered to households to assess factors driving grocery store food purchases in Iowa. Of the 507 residents aged 20 to 60 who responded to the survey, 87% said they paid attention to food labels. But, and this is interesting, subsequent questions and answers showed that food confusion is alive and well. Over three quarters (76%) believed that the word “natural” on a label means something (it doesn’t – there is no standardized definition in the marketplace and no verification by regulatory agencies) and 89% believed “grown by Iowa family farmers” means something (what was not identified). Non-GMO labels were perceived as safer by 42%. The FDA has consistently said GMO products are safe, (GMOs are made with genetic modified ingredients such as corn or soybeans from seed altered to prevent pest infestation and plant disease). Ironically, this agency was ranked as the most trusted source of information about GMO, followed by farmers, medical professionals and dietitians (in that order, as a registered dietitian, one with a lot of academic credits about food under my belt, this was a bit disconcerting). Granted, these results reflect a “snapshot in time” but they do suggest there are opportunities for farmers to explain how they produce food (see last week’s blog about Story Time) but also for experts to have a greater role in combating food confusion. Diets are fundamental to a healthy life. March is National Nutrition Month – the theme for 2016 is Savor the Flavor of Eating Right. Make smart food choices next trip to the store. It really isn’t complicated to eat right – just like safe food handling, selection of the food is just a matter of keeping your head in the game and not getting sidetracked by certain aisles at the grocery store. For more information view the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics infographic on the Total Diet Approach to Healthy Eating.