Cool Food the Right Way to Protect Your Family

Foods in refrigerator

Every year in the United States one in six people get sick from contaminated food. Cooling food quickly helps reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Avoid the Temperature Danger Zone (temperatures between 40°F and 140°F) by refrigerating perishable food within two hours—one hour if it is a hot day (above 90°F). Keep your fridge temperature at 40°F or below and use a fridge thermometer to keep food safe.

Keep food safe by dividing leftovers into smaller portions and storing in shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator, putting perishable foods in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as you get them home from the store, and always marinating food in the refrigerator.

Source: Partnership for Food Safety Education, www.fightbac.org/

Tips to Avoid Food Poisoning When Eating Out

Hamburger and chips
  • Check inspection scores. Check a restaurant’s score on the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals website, iowa.safefoodinspection.com. Inspections are a “snapshot” of the day and time of the inspection.
  • Look for certificates that show kitchen managers have completed food safety training.Refrigerate your leftovers quickly.
  • Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of when the food was prepared (or 1 hour if the food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F, like in a hot car or at a picnic). Eat leftovers within 3 to 4 days. Throw them out after that time.

Source: CDC Food Safety and Eating Out, www.cdc.gov

Using Food Thermometers

Meat thermometer

Did you know 66% of people do not use food thermometers correctly? If food temperatures are not checked regularly, people are at higher risk of a foodborne illness.

Research by the USDA shows one out of four hamburgers turn brown before they reach the minimum internal temperature. The color of cooked food does not determine its doneness. Check meats in the thickest part of the food without touching any bone or fat. Clean thermometers before and after use with hot soapy water.

USDA Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart, go.iastate.edu/JAZA0S

  • Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb—Steaks, Roast, Chops: 145 degrees F
  • Fish: 145 degrees F
  • Ground Beef: 160 degrees F
  • Egg Dishes: 160 degrees F
  • Turkey, Chicken, Duck—Whole, Pieces, Ground: 165 degrees F

Sources: USDA Food and Safety Inspection Service, www.fsis.usda.gov/

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.

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