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Clean Your Way to a Safer Kitchen

ThinkstockPhotos-479870372 cleaning stove kitchenShake off winter by doing some spring cleaning. It is a great time to target harmful bacteria that can hang out on kitchen surfaces and even in your refrigerator. You can’t see bacteria, but they are everywhere! They especially like moist environments. A clean and dry kitchen protects you and your family from foodborne illness.

  • Always clean surfaces with hot, soapy water. After thoroughly washing surfaces with hot, soapy water, sanitize them with a disinfectant kitchen spray or diluted chlorine bleach solution (1 teaspoon bleach to 1 quart of water). Let the solution stand on the surface for a few minutes, then blot dry with clean paper towels.
  • Disinfect dishcloths often. Launder dishcloths and towels frequently using the hot water cycle of the washing machine. Then be sure they are thoroughly dry.
    Rid your refrigerator of spills, bacteria, mold, and mildew. Clean your fridge weekly to kill germs that could contaminate foods. Clean interior surfaces with hot, soapy water. Rinse well with a damp cloth; dry with a clean cloth. Some manufacturers recommend not using chlorine bleach because it can damage seals, gaskets, and linings.
  • Clean your kitchen sink drain and disposal. Pour a solution of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach in 1 quart of water down the drain once or twice per week. Food particles get trapped in the drain and disposal, creating the perfect environment for bacterial growth.

Sources: www.fightbac.org and www.foodsafety.gov

Food Safety Protection in Iowa: Did You Know…

  • ThinkstockPhotos-499289680No Bare Hands: The Iowa Food Code does not allow food handlers to touch ready-to-eat food with bare hands when serving the public. This means that foods like fresh produce (already washed and cut), sandwiches, pizza, deli meats, and bakery products are handled with tongs/utensils, deli papers, or gloves over clean hands.
  • Certified Food Protection Manager: The Iowa Food Code requires that at least one employee with supervisory responsibilities in a foodservice/restaurant operation be certified in food safety. This requirement became law in 2014. Existing restaurants have until January 1, 2018, to get at least one manager food safety certified.
  • Temporary Food Stands: Local food inspectors are busy during the summer months! They arrive before the food is served and inspect food stands at the farmers markets and at community events (Ice Cream Days, Watermelon Days, etc.). They check food temperatures and cleanliness, and they make sure the food handlers have a way to easily and correctly wash their hands.

Leftovers and Food Safety

ThinkstockPhotos-506506152The first step in having safe leftovers is to cook the food safely. Cook the food to the proper temperature by using a food thermometer. Bacteria grow rapidly in the temperature danger zone (40°F to 140°F), so be sure your leftovers are safe by following these steps:

  • Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of cooking or holding it hot.
  • Throw away all cooked food that has been at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • Cool foods rapidly. To do this, large quantities of food should be cut in smaller pieces first or divided into shallow containers that will aid in cooling.
  • Cover leftovers well before refrigerating. This helps keep odors and bacteria out and moisture in.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 4 months. Although leftovers are safe indefinitely when frozen, quality will deteriorate when stored longer.

For a chart on storage times, visit http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html.

Health Inspection Records at Your Fingertips

bldar022405079Health inspection records for eating establishments are now easier to find thanks to a new app—HD Scores. The app, available for both iPhone and Android devices, was developed by chef Matthew Eierman and his colleagues. The app displays a map of the user’s area and shows a percentage score for each establishment, based on a scoring algorithm created by HDScores.

HDScores emphasizes cleanliness and factors related to foodborne illness, and it focuses less on issues unrelated to contamination. This means it is possible for an establishment to score an A on their health inspection but receive a lower score on HDScores, like 75 percent, if they have only a few violations but those violations are directly related to foodborne illness risk.

Information on the app is updated frequently, with new inspection scores available within 12 to 24 hours of the health department’s filing. Currently the app contains data for more than 615,000 of the approximately 1.5 million eating establishments across the United States. The app covers the entire state of Iowa. For more information on the app, visit hdscores.com.

Winter Weather Emergencies–What Do You Do?

ThinkstockPhotos-78811116Iowa winters bring with them cold, snow, and the occasional loss of power. Try these food safety tips for when your power goes out:

Make sure you have a thermometer in your refrigerator and freezer. When the power goes out, check your thermometers for safe temperatures: refrigerator below 40°F, and 0°F or lower for freezer.

Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed. When kept closed, a refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours; a full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours; a half-full freezer will hold its temperature for 24 hours.

Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags now. These can be used in the refrigerator and freezer to help food stay cold and be a source of fresh water for you to use.

When in doubt, throw it out. Any perishable food that has been above 40°F for two hours or more should be thrown out. Frozen food with ice crystals may be safely refrozen.

Source: Food Poisoning Bulletin

Don’t Let Foodborne Illness Crash Your Holidays

appetizersBacteria are everywhere, but a few types especially like to crash parties. Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens, and Listeria monocrytogenes frequent people’s hands and kitchens. And unlike bacteria that cause food to spoil, these bacteria cannot be smelled or tasted. Safe food handling is necessary for prevention.

Staphylococcus aureus
Staphylococcus (“staph”) bacteria are found on our skin, in infected cuts and pimples, and in our noses and throats. They are spread by improper food handling. Prevention includes washing hands and utensils before preparing and handling foods and not letting prepared foods- particularly cooked and cured meats and cheeses ass well as meat salads- sit at room temperature more than two hours. Thorough cooking destroys “staph” bacteria, but the toxin it may produce is resistant to heat, refrigeration, and freezing and can make you sick.

Clostridium perfringens
“Perfringens” is called the “cafeteria germ” because it may be found in foods served in quantity and left for long periods at room temperature. Prevent it by dividing large portions of cooked foods such as beef, turkey, gravy, dressing, stews, and casseroles into smaller portions for serving and cooling. Keep cooked foods hot or cold, not lukewarm.

Listeria monocytogenes
Listeria bacteria multiply, although slowly, at refrigeration temperatures. Therefore, these bacteria can be found in cold foods typically served on buffets. To avoid serving foods containing Listeria, follow “keep refrigerated” label directions and carefully observe “sell by” and “use by” dates on processed products like deli meat. Thoroughly reheat frozen or refrigerated processed meat and poultry products before eating.

If illness does occur, contact a health professional and describe the symptoms.

Source: www.foodsafety.gov

USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline

If you have a question on buying, storing, preparing, or cooking your turkey this Thanksgiving, the USDA’s Meat and Poultry hotline can help you. The hotline, which recently celebrated its 30th year, is available to answer any question on food safety.

Call 888-674-6854 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Thanksgiving Day, the line is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., but it is closed other government holidays. The hotline is available in Spanish as well. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day in English and Spanish. Or you can send questions to mphotline.fsis@usda.gov; use their virtual food safety representative at askkaren.gov or live chat during specified weekday hours. In addition, the USDA’s FoodKeeper app available on Android and iOS provides information on storage times for foods.

Source: www.fsis.usda.gov

Sprouted Foods

A new trend showing up in the cereal, bread, pasta, and snack aisles is products made with sprouts. Most people have heard of bean sprouts, but other foods that can be sprouted include grains, legumes, radish seeds, broccoli seeds, and nuts.

The health benefits touted include being higher in vitamins such as B and C and minerals such as zinc and iron, as well as increased digestibility. Currently there is little research on sprouted foods, and the results of these studies show the benefits to be small compared to nonsprouted foods. The few studies that have been done show that vitamin C is slightly higher in sprouted grains, and iron and zinc may be more easily absorbed. In regard to digestibility, sprouting does break down the seed, which means less work for your digestive system.

If you are considering adding raw sprouts to your diet, first look at food safety. To reduce the risk of a foodborne illness, the Food and Drug Administration recommends the following:

• Children, elderly, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts.
• Refrigerate any sprouts you buy.
• Cook sprouts thoroughly to kill any potentially harmful bacteria.

Sources: chnr.ucdavis.edu/faq/, www.webmd.com/food-recipes/sprouting-food

Broccoli Salad

broccoli-saladNote: The food safety tips from last weeks blog have been added to this recipe
Serving Size: 1 cup | Serves: 7
Ingredients: 
seperate-imageKeep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods at the grocery store and in the refrigerator.
  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 3 tablespoons cider or white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced (1/2 medium onion)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
Instructions: 
cleanWash hands before preparing food and frequently throughout for 20 seconds with soap and running water.
  1. Cut seperate-image  clean 1/2″ off bottom of the broccoli stem seperate-image clean and discard. Peel the outer layer of the stem. Chop cook seperate-image clean the tender inner portion of the broccoli and florets.
  2. Mix sugar, salt, mustard, and mayonnaise together in a large bowl. clean Add vinegar and stir with a wire whisk or fork.
  3. Add the broccoli, red onion, seperate-image clean and raisins.
  4. Stir until mixture is coated with dressing. Serve salad immediately or store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. Store salad for up to 4 days.
chill Enjoy your leftovers! Refrigerate them at 40ºF or below within two hours.
Tips: 
clean  Wash surfaces and utensils after each use. Wash fruits and veggies before preparing food, even if you plan to peel them.
 seperate-image  To prevent cross-contamination, always use separate cutting boards and plates for produce and for raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
 cook  Always use a food thermometer to ensure cooked food reaches a safe internal temperature (165ºF for poultry; 145ºF for fish, pork, beef, veal, and lamb; 160ºF for ground beef, pork, veal, and lamb).

Nutrition information per serving: 130 calories, 4g total fat,0.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 5mg cholesterol, 200mgsodium, 22g total carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 15g sugar, 3g protein

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’sSpend Smart. Eat Smart. website, www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings

Recipe for Safe Food

couple cooking in kitchen mealsMost recipes do not include proper food safety precautions.The online Recipe Tool automatically adds the critical food safety steps into favorite recipes or those found online. The tool was developed by the USDA, in partnership with the FDA and the CDC, as a reminder to keep food safe.
To use the Recipe Tool:
  1. Access the link at www.foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/recipetool/.
  2. Type your favoriterecipes into the boxesor insert the recipeURL from a popularcooking website intothe tool to get foodhandling reminders.Food handling remindersinclude clean, separate,cook, and chill.

Source: FoodSafety.gov, Keep Food Safe Blog, www.foodsafety.gov/blog/2014/07/recipes-just-got-safe-our-new-online-tool.html