Let’s Be Clear on Cleaning

Bucket and cleaning supplies

Knowing the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting is helpful in preventing the spread of diseases. Always follow the manufacturer’s label for proper use and safety.

Cleaning first removes germs and dirt from surfaces. Sanitizing is done after cleaning to further reduce germs on surfaces to safer levels. Disinfecting kills germs and bacteria with a chemical product.

What To Use?

Use soap or detergents with water to scrub and wash for cleaning. Use a weaker bleach solution sanitizing spray for sanitizing. Use an EPA-registered disinfecting product or strong bleach solution for disinfecting.

When To Use?

Regularly clean objects and surfaces before sanitizing or disinfecting. Be sure to sanitize objects and surfaces that are in contact with mouths such as countertops, any surface that touches food, utensils, toys, and other infant feeding supplies. It is important to disinfect surfaces when someone has gotten sick or it is a high-traffic area where germs are more likely to spread.

Stay safe when using cleaning and chemical products. If there has been a chemical exposure to cleaners or disinfectants, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.

Sources:
CDC, go.iastate.edu/QCF85B
CDC, go.iastate.edu/H3MYZ7

For a Safe Plate, Do Not Cross-Contaminate

Cutting vegetables on a cutting board

September is Food Safety Education Month. This year the focus is preventing cross contamination.

  1. Separate meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods in the grocery cart and refrigerator.
  2. Raw chicken does not need to be washed in either water or vinegar before cooking. It is ready to cook. Washing raw poultry can splash germs around the sink and kitchen.
  3. Use separate cutting boards and knives for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Use a different cutting board for bread, vegetables, and fruits.
  4. If you only have one cutting board, cut produce, bread, and other ready-to-eat foods first, then wash the cutting board with soap and hot water before cutting raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
    • The cutting board should always be washed with soap and hot water between each different food item.
    • Wash hands after handling meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
  5. Wash utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with soap and hot water after preparing meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
  6. Use separate plates and utensils for raw meat, poultry, and seafood as well as cooked meat, poultry, and seafood.

How to Create a Container Garden

Is your garden limited on space? Consider growing your vegetables in containers! Container gardening occurs when plants are grown in containers such as pots rather than in the ground. This method reduces potential problems with infertile garden sites and “free-living” bacteria such as nematodes.

Tomatoes growing in container
  • Containers. Almost any type of container can be used as long as it has drainage holes in the bottom. Common containers include plastic, clay, ceramic, or wood. Check out this resource, store.extension.iastate.edu/product/4179, for more information on size of containers recommended for various vegetables and the amount of potting mix.
  • Growing mixes. Select quality mixes that are free of plant disease organisms and weed seeds, are less likely to compact, drain well, are lightweight, and hold moisture and nutrients. Soiless potting mixes can be purchased from garden centers and retail outlets and can be prepared with fertilizer included.
  • Summer care of container gardens.
    • Location. Vegetables grow best in full sunlight. Plants that bear fruit require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Leafy vegetables tolerate more shade.
    • Watering. Plants grown in containers require more frequent watering because they dry out from the sun and wind. Never allow the soil to completely dry out between waterings. Overwatering will also kill plants. Avoid wetting leaves when watering to prevent the development of plant diseases.
    • Fertilization. A soluble fertilizer (15-30-15 or 20-20-20) applied once every week is recommended. If using a commercial potting mix, it may not be necessary to begin fertilization until midsummer.

Produce Safety in Gardens

Gardening is a fun and satisfying summer activity. It can increase your family’s food security and have physical and mental health benefits. However, gardens can be a dangerous place. Here are some essential gardening safety and health tips to keep in mind:

  • Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Use safety gloves to protect your hands from cuts and irritations. Wear long sleeves, safety goggles, long pants, a straw hat, and boots. Apply sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher and use insect repellent if needed.
  • Consider temperatures. Weather conditions can change excessively from morning to afternoon. Check the weather first and then plan your gardening day. Remember to stay hydrated!
  • Use chemicals carefully. Read the chemical label before use. This ensures it will be used correctly and for its intended purpose. Store away from children and animals.
  • Focus on posture. Gardening includes a lot of bending and kneeling. Take time to ensure you maintain the right posture. Ask for assistance when lifting anything heavy.

Produce Basics

Preparing fresh produce is easy if you have the right information! Spend Smart. Eat Smart Produce Basics, go.iastate.edu/EXKVVD, describes how to store, clean, and prepare fresh produce.

  • Corn on the Cob, go.iastate.edu/UIOFP4: A summer staple that is high in fiber.
    • Choose ears of corn that have a bright green husk.
    • If husk is removed, refrigerate in tightly wrapped plastic for 1 to 2 days. If husk is still on, store uncovered in a refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.
  • Onions: This vegetable is high in vitamin C and fiber.
    • Choose onions that are dry, shiny, and firm, and do not have dents or bruises.
    • Store whole onions in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place and use within 4 weeks.
    • Refrigerate cut onions in a tightly sealed container and use within 7 days.
    • Rinse onions under cool running water before use.
  • Zucchini, go.iastate.edu/ZAC1CS: This food helps heal cuts and wounds while helping the immune system.
    • Choose zucchini that have shiny skins and firm flesh.
    • Store in a plastic bag in the vegetable (crisper) drawer of the refrigerator and use within 4–5 days.

Three Simple Rules for Outdoor Meals

Man grilling and serving food to a group of people outside

Potlucks and family events are a fun reason to get outdoors in the warm weather. However, you need to take extra care to keep food safe from foodborne illness. Foodborne illnesses increase during the summer months because bacteria multiply faster with warm temperatures. Read the three simple food safety guidelines below to protect yourself, your family, and your friends from foodborne illness.

  • Clean. Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, touching pets, and using the restroom. After prepping each item, wash and sanitize cutting boards, utensils, and dishes. Rinse fruits and vegetables under running tap water and scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush.
  • Separate. Never place cooked food on a dish that previously held raw poultry, meat, seafood, or eggs. Bacteria can spread from raw juices to cooked or ready-to-eat food. Instead, use one cutting board for fresh produce and another for raw food items.
  • Cook. Pack a food thermometer to ensure the safety of meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. These food items must be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria that could cause foodborne illnesses. Use a food thermometer to test for doneness:

Fish—145°F

Steaks, chops—145°F

Ground meat—160°F

Poultry—165°F

Sources:
US Food and Drug Administration, www.fda.gov
ISU Extension and Outreach – Words on Wellness, go.iastate.edu/IFSNX3

How to Store Wine to Get the Best of It

Contributed by Aude Watrelot, PhD

Did you know Iowa has 98 wineries? Whether you enjoy a glass of Iowa wine or that of another location, how you store and serve wine impacts the flavors and overall enjoyment. Chill sparkling wine, white wine, and a rosé wine between 50°F and 54°F before being opened. Store reds at cool/room temperature to reduce the burning sensation of alcohol that can be perceived if the wine is too warm. Storing red wines in a cold room (less than 50°F) could make it seem more bitter and acidic.

Once you have opened a bottle of wine, make sure to follow these guidelines for maintaining the quality.

  1. Remove the air from the bottle before storing by using an air pump or by replacing the air with inert gas. Too much oxygen can cause the open wine to start getting a nutty, bruised apple smell and a brown color.
  2. Refrigerate white and rosé wine and store red wine in a cool room. Sometimes refrigerated wine will have some crystals at the bottom of the bottle. These are not harmful for consumption. They’re just due to the colder temperature.
  3. Follow these storage times after opening:
    -Sparkling wine—up to three days
    -White wine or rosé wine—up to five days
    -Red wines—up to seven days
    -Fortified wines like port or sherry—up to 4 weeks

Remember, alcohol should be consumed in moderation and only by adults ages 21 years and older. Visit
Your Life Iowa, yourlifeiowa.org/, for information, resources, and treatment for alcohol or drug use.

Put It Away—The Right Way!

We are spending more money on our food lately than we have in past years. Properly storing food at home saves food dollars, preserves the quality and nutrients, and prevents foodborne illness caused by harmful bacteria.

Many staples and canned foods have a lengthy shelf life. However, foods stored for longer than recommended times or beyond package date may change quality, color, and flavor. Periodically check for expiration dates and discard foods showing any signs of spoilage.

Store perishable foods in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F or below. Items like meat, dairy, poultry, eggs, and fish should be in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Store them in airtight wraps or containers to prevent juices from dripping and contaminating other foods.

Freezer temperatures should be maintained at 0°F or below. Package items for the freezer in moisture- and vapor-proof wraps or containers, using freezer-grade foil, plastic wrap or bags, or freezer paper or containers. Label all freezer foods with the date, food item, and weight or number of servings. For more information on how long foods last, check the FoodKeeper App, www.foodsafety.gov.

Sources:
EatRight, www.eatright.org
UNL Food, food.unl.edu
Texas Agricultural Extension Service, nchfp.uga.edu

Be in the Know—Don’t Throw! Tips to AvoidFood Waste

Did you know one-third of all food in the United States goes uneaten and ends up in the landfills or waste facilities? We can help achieve the national food-waste reduction goal of decreasing food waste by 50% by the year 2030 with a few tips.

Planning your weekly meals can save you time and money. Make a list of the foods you have in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry and plan upcoming meals around them. Check the foods in your refrigerator often to be sure you use or freeze them before you need to throw them away. Leftovers and produce that are past their prime can be used in other dishes. Repurpose these into soups, casseroles, baked goods, or smoothies.

Wash your berries, cherries, and grapes right before you are ready to eat them to avoid molding. Be sure to store your produce properly for maximum freshness and less waste.

For more information download our free publication, Food Waste at Home, store.extension.iastate.edu/product/15386.

Sources:
EPA, www.epa.gov
US Food and Drug Administration, www.fda.gov/food

Understanding Food Date Labeling

Person holding bottle of milk

Almost all food has a food date label. The product date indicates food quality, appearance, and flavor, not food safety. Some unopened foods may be safe to eat past their product date if properly handled and stored at home. Below are some dates on a food product and what they mean.

  • “Best If Used By/Before” is how long the product will remain at its best quality while unopened. Foods not showing spoilage may be purchased, donated, and consumed beyond the date. (For donation information, contact your local food bank or use HS 142C Healthy Food Pantry Donation Guide, store.extension.iastate.edu/product/16109.)
  • “Use By” is the last date recommended for using a product at peak quality and is a required safety date for infant formula. Do not use infant formula beyond this date due to nutrient loss.
  • “Sell By” is the last day stores can display an item for sale while at peak quality.

Source:
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, go.iastate.edu/JSL1NT

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