Pet Food and Food Safety

August 27th, 2014

pet dogWe know to wash our hands before eating dinner and after using the bathroom, but what about after handling pet food?

You’re running late again, and just as you head for the door, you remember Fido still needs his breakfast. After serving him a hearty scoop of kibble, you’re in the car and on the road, and along for the ride may be the foodborne bacteria Salmonella.

Most pet food and pet treats are processed and handled properly so they’re Salmonella free and safe for your pet to eat and for you to touch. But sometimes pet food and pet treats become contaminated with Salmonella and you won’t know by looking at the food. If you touch contaminated pet food or treats, you may become ill from Salmonella or pass the bacteria on to other people.

The foodborne illness caused by Salmonella is called salmonellosis. The illness may be life threatening in some groups, such as children, older adults, and people with compromised immune systems (e.g., those with cancer).

Symptoms of salmonellosis in pets include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, decreased appetite, and decreased activity.

Washing your hands with warm, soapy water after handling pet food is the best way to reduce your risk of foodborne illness from contaminated pet food. Washing your hands is also the best way to reduce your risk of passing foodborne illness on to others. Take time to wash your hands after feeding Fido, even on rushed weekday mornings.

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Investigate the Outdoors This Summer

August 20th, 2014

kids outdoors playing natureSpend your late summer and early fall exploring the nature of Iowa! The U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council public service campaign, Discover the Forest (available in Spanish, Descubre el Bosque), aims to inspire 8- to 12-year-olds and their parents to reconnect with nature. The program offers numerous helpful resources, including The Book of Stuff to Do Outside. This book shows how to have a scavenger hunt, find directions using a compass, and keep a nature journal. It can be downloaded for free at http://www.discovertheforest.org/pdf/book-of-stuff.pdf.

Another Forest Service program that helps children connect with nature is the Junior Forest Ranger program. Children can complete the activities in the 18-page book to qualify for the Junior Forest Ranger pin and card. And when the summer is over, they can get ready to qualify for their Junior Snow Ranger designation.

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Grilled Peaches

August 13th, 2014

grilled peaches fruitQuick cooking on a grill brings out the natural juiciness and sweetness in a peach. Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 large peaches
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • Ground cinnamon to taste

Directions

  1. Grilled peaches are great served with meat, fish, or poultry.
  2. Start with peaches that are firm with just a little give when you gently squeeze them with your whole hand.
  3. Cut the peaches in half and pit them.
  4. Brush the cut sides of the peaches with canola oil.
  5. Clean and oil the grates.
  6. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat (you should be able to hold your hand about an inch above the cooking grate for 3 to 4 seconds).
  7. Cook the peaches on all cut sides until grill marks show and the peaches are tender but not falling apart. Total grilling time is about 6 to 8 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Nutrition information per serving
88 calories each; 2 g fat; 0 g sat fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 17 g carbohydrates; 2 g protein; 3 g fiber; 0 mg sodium

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Nothing Says Summer Like Peaches

August 6th, 2014

peachEach year, the summer season signals the arrival of juicy, sweet peaches. In the United States, most peaches are grown in California, Georgia, and South Carolina. Unfortunately, our cold temperatures in Iowa are not suited for growing this wonderful fruit tree.

There are three general types of peaches:

• Clingstone—Flesh clings tightly to the pit. The early season fruit is generally clingstone and is best used for cooking and canning.

• Freestone—Flesh readily separates from the pit. These are good for eating fresh, as desserts, and for cooking and freezing.

• Semi-freestone—Flesh is a little harder to separate from the pit. These are also good for eating fresh, as desserts, and for cooking and freezing.

Peach Nutrition Facts

• Good source of vitamin A, which promotes good vision, especially in low light. It also helps maintain healthy skin, bones, and teeth.

• Excellent source of vitamin C, which promotes healing and helps the body absorb iron.

• A medium (2.66-inch diameter) peach provides 59 calories, 2 grams fiber and is naturally fat-free, sodium-free and cholesterol-free.

When Buying Peaches

• Choose peaches with a strong, sweet smell.

• Look for skins that show a background color of yellow or warm cream. Avoid fruit with green around the stem (they aren’t fully ripe) or that have shriveled skin (they’re old). A red blush is not a reliable indicator of ripeness.

When Storing Peaches

• Keep them on a counter at room temperature until they are the ripeness you prefer.

• When ripe, move the peaches to the crisper bin of your refrigerator.

When Cooking with Peaches

• If a recipe calls for peeled peaches, dip peaches into boiling water for about 30 seconds, then plunge them immediately into ice water. The skins will slip right off.

• If peeling or cutting up peaches for a recipe, keep them from turning brown by sprinkling with lemon or orange juice.

• If you have more peaches on hand than you can eat or bake up right away, consider freezing, canning, or making extra into a fruit spread. The following Extension and Outreach publications may be useful:

o Canning—Fruits (PM 1043) store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/PM1043

o Freezing—Fruits and Vegetables (PM 1045) store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/PM1045

o Canning—Fruit Spreads (PM 1366) store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/PM1366

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Cool Off While Working Out!

July 23rd, 2014

fitness active pool water workoutStay cool in the summer, yet still break a sweat! There’s more to do in a pool than swim laps. You burn as many calories walking or jogging in the water as you do on land if you move your arms and legs at the same pace. You also can burn calories in shoulder deep water while using a kickboard or while performing push/pull movements with a pool noodle. The water resistance exercises your muscles but reduces stress on your joints.

Find more exercises you can perform in the water. Watch this video for other pool workout ideas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBy0xZPoWzM.

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Buying and Selling Local Foods

July 16th, 2014

produce farmers market vegetablesFarmers market and food stand season brings many opportunities to sample “pride of Iowa” foods. Most people assume that foods “allowed” to be sold require inspection. Regulatory agencies (e.g., Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals Consumer Food Safety Bureau) have the responsibility to inspect foods that present a greater risk for foodborne illness, rather than all foods.

For example, at farmers markets, vendors of meats and cheeses will have prepared their foods in a licensed processing facility. Fruit-based jams and jellies can be home-processed whereas vegetable-based jams, such as pepper jam, must be processed in a licensed facility. The difference is due to ingredients that increase the risk of foodborne illness if the product is not properly prepared. Most baked goods are okay for sale, but vendors must have: a list of ingredients, preparer’s contact information, place where food was prepared, notice of common food allergens (like peanuts or soy) that may have been present when the item was made.

When a food stand is preparing or selling what are considered “higher risk” foods (e.g., not pre-packaged foods), it should have a temporary food establishment license. This means the Department of Inspection and Appeals Consumer Food Safety Bureau or a county-level counterpart has inspected the food stand and issued the temporary license.

Are you interested in starting your own home-based food business?

Read “Starting a Home-Based Food Business in Iowa” (https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Starting-a-Home-Based-Food-Business-in-Iowa). This publication provides an overview of what should be considered, including regulatory aspects.

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Infused Water

July 9th, 2014

fruit water strawberry lemon drinksMake drinking water more fun by flavoring it with fruits, vegetables, or herbs.

Cucumber and Mint Cooler
Ingredients

  • 6 cups chilled water
  • 12 thin slices cucumber
  • Few sprigs of mint

Directions
In a 2 to 2½ quart pitcher, combine water, cucumber, and mint. Chill for 30 minutes. Add ice cubes just before serving.

Strawberry and Mint Cooler
Ingredients

  • 18 strawberries (medium size) sliced thin
  • 8 sprigs of mint
  • 1 quart water and ice

Directions
In a 2 to 2½ quart pitcher, combine water, ice, strawberries, and mint. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.

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Water Is Key to Life

July 2nd, 2014

water glasses drinksWater is the key to life — every system in our body depends on it. Water helps carry nutrients to our cells, helps rid toxins from our organs, and keeps our nose, ears, and throat moist. If we don’t drink enough water, we become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, fatigue, and confusion. We lose water on a daily basis by breathing, urinating, and sweating. Because we constantly lose water, we must repeatedly replace what we lose.

The Institute of Medicine states that an adequate daily intake of water for men is about 13 cups and about 9 cups for women. Water comes from more than just fluids; it is a major component of many foods. In fact, it is estimated that 20 percent of our water needs are met through food.

Foods with high water content add volume but minimal calories to the diet. Eating foods high in water can promote a feeling of fullness. Fruits and vegetables are two food groups that have generally high water content. Fruits, vegetables, and dairy products like milk and yogurt can help you reach your daily water recommendations.

Fruits and vegetables high in water

Fruit: Watermelon, citrus fruits, grapes, apples, papaya, strawberries, apricots, cherries

Vegetables: Carrots, bell peppers, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, squash, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach

Use these helpful resources to better understand the role water plays in your health.

Eat to Compete: What You Should Know about Fluids
https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Eat-to-Compete-What-You-Should-Know-About-Fluids

Bottled Water—Know the Facts
https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Bottled-Water-Know-the-Facts

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Iowa Games – A great way to get moving this summer

June 25th, 2014

gold silver bronze medalWhat are the Iowa Games? The Iowa Games offer statewide competition in some 50 sports. The Iowa Games provide Iowans with recreational opportunities through Olympic-style events.

Who can compete? All Iowans! There are events for athletes of all ages and abilities! Athletes in all competitive events vie for Iowa Games gold, silver, and bronze medals with neck ribbons.

When and where are the Games? The Summer Games are scheduled the last three weekends in July. Events take place in central Iowa with most events in Ames.

How do I register? Go to: www.iowagames.org/Register.aspx

Which sports are included? Whether you compete in golf, handball, fishing, Zumba, or any of the more than 50 events, you’ll find them described at: www.iowagames.org/Sports/SummerGames.aspx

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Food safety in stormy weather

June 18th, 2014

refrigerator graphicThis time of year brings occasional stormy weather. Are you prepared if your power goes off? Your refrigerator and freezer can help you avoid foodborne illness if you are prepared.

Be prepared
• Monitor the temperature. Keep a thermometer toward the front of the refrigerator and freezer. Check the temperatures as soon as you can after the power is restored before the food refreezes and you cannot tell how warm it had been. Safe temperatures are 40°F or lower in the refrigerator and 0°F or lower in the freezer.
• Keep ready-to-eat food. Store ready-to-eat foods in case you can’t cook or cool food.

When the power goes out
• Refrigerator and freezer doors should be kept closed as much as possible.
• The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed.
• A full freezer will hold temperature about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
• Packages can be grouped in an “igloo” if the freezer isn’t full.

When power is restored
• Toss perishable food that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.
• Throw out food with an unusual odor, color, or texture, or that feels warm to the touch.
• Check for ice crystals in frozen food. Food partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40°F or colder.

When in doubt, throw it out.
Need to know which foods are safe to keep? Ask for When the Home Freezer Stops (PM 1367) at your county Extension and Outreach office. Or download it: store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/When-the-Home-Freezer-Stops

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