Archives

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

Grill Food Safely

grilling vegetables meals summerThaw safely. Completely thaw meat, poultry, and seafood before grilling so it cooks evenly. Use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing or thaw sealed packages in cold water.

Marinate food in the refrigerator. If you use a marinade to enhance flavor, marinate the food in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Do not reuse marinade on cooked meat that was used on raw meat. If you want to add more marinade after the meat is cooked, make up a fresh batch.

Cook to the correct temperature. Grilling browns the outside of meat, poultry, and seafood quickly, so you can’t rely on color as an indication of doneness. Always use a food thermometer to ensure that the food is cooked to the safe minimum internal temperature.

Keep hot food hot. Keep cooked meats hot by setting them to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook. At home, the cooked meat can be kept hot in an oven set at approximately 200°F, in a slow cooker (135°F or higher), or on a warming tray.

Use a different plate for serving cooked meat. When taking food off the grill, don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Any harmful bacteria in the raw meat juices could contaminate safely cooked food.

Source: www.fsis.usda.gov.

Home Food Safety Mythbusters

washing lettuceMyth: “It is OK to wash bagged greens if I want to. There’s no harm!”

Fact: Rinsing leafy greens that are ready to eat (those labeled “washed,” “triple washed,” or “ready to eat”) will not enhance safety and could actually increase the potential for cross-contamination. This means harmful bacteria from your hands or kitchen surfaces could find their way onto the greens while washing them.

Myth: “I don’t need to rinse this melon for safety. The part I eat is on the inside!”

Fact: A knife or peeler passing through the rind can carry harmful bacteria from the outside into the flesh of the melon. The rind also touches edible portions when cut fruit is arranged or stacked for serving and garnish. Rinse melons under running tap water while rubbing with your hands or scrubbing with a clean brush. Dry the melon with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Myth: “Be sure to rinse or wash raw chicken, turkey, or other poultry before cooking it!”

Fact: Rinsing poultry is an unsafe practice because contaminated water may splash and spread bacteria to other foods and kitchen surfaces.

Myth: “Cross-contamination doesn’t happen in the refrigerator…it’s too cold in there for germs to survive!”

Fact: Some harmful bacteria can survive and even grow in cool, moist environments. Keep fresh produce separate from raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. For tips on how to clean and disinfect your refrigerator, go to http://bit.ly/1DeqVeO.

Sources: http://bit.ly/1FQlpQp

What’s in Your Kitchen

in the kitchen homeA 2013 study identified the six germiest items in the kitchen. These items were found to have pathogens (disease-causing agents) on them that can cause someone, especially children, pregnant women, and older adults, to become ill. Risk of illness can be lowered by using the cleaning tips below.

 

Kitchen Item Pathogen Found How to Decrease Pathogens
Can opener salmonella, E. coli, yeast, and mold Handheld: Wash in hot soapy water, rinse, and air dry after each use.
Electric: Using a clean cloth, wash the cutter, feed gear, and magnet with hot soapy water. Rinse with a wet, clean cloth.
Vegetable drawer of refrigerator salmonella, listeria, yeast, and mold Wash in hot soapy water, rinse and air dry after each use.
Blender salmonella, E. coli, yeast, and mold Dishwasher Safe: Wash blender in the dishwasher.
Not Dishwasher Safe: Wash in hot soapy water, rinse, and dry before reassembling.
Rubber spatula E. coli, yeast, and mold Wash in hot soapy water, paying special attention to the area where the handle joins the spatula.
Refrigerator meat compartment salmonella, E. coli, yeast, and mold Use a clean cloth and wash the bin with a mild detergent mixed with warm water. Thoroughly rinse with warm, clean water and dry.
Food storage container with rubber seal salmonella, yeast, and mold Wash in hot soapy water, paying special attention to any grooves where the cover attaches to the container. Then rinse and dry.
General Safe Food Practices:
• Always wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 10–15 seconds.
• Avoid cross-contamination by storing ready-to-eat foods on top of uncooked foods, such as meat, to avoid raw juices dripping on other foods.

http://www.nsf.org/newsroom_pdf/2013_germ_study_FOR-WEB-ONLY.pdf

Recycling Food Waste? Waste Not, Want Not?

woman helping man at  food pantrySupermarkets throw out $47 billion worth of food each year. Much of this food is still safe to eat. The idea is to offer food to people at low prices and reduce the amount of food wasted. This has led to new businesses opening around the United States that provide groceries at a discounted price. These food items are safe to eat,but one of the following applies:

  • They are past their sell-by date (end of store “shelf life” but still safe to eat).
  • They are close to their use-by date (found on shelf-stable products; indicatesabsolute best quality when unopened).
  • They have minor imperfections (e.g., slightly bruised produce, slightlydented cans).
  • They are from overstocks.

Why is repurposing of these foods gaining popularity? Foods that are past their sell-by date or close to their use-by date can still be safe to eat and therefore can be used to combat hunger. Currently, 1 in 8 or 11.9% of Iowans are foodinsecure, meaning that at some time during the year they lacked access to safe and nutritious food. This leads to lower intakes of nutrient-rich foods, more health problems, and loss of independence. People who are food insecure do not receivethe nutrients needed to remain healthy and active. Not having access to safe and nutritious foods in midlife and older adulthood can make completing daily tasks (e.g., cleaning, bathing, etc.) more challenging. In addition, getting a foodborne illness can have long term health consequences. In children, a lack of propernutrition is associated with increased behavior problems, school absenteeism, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue.

The Iowa organization Table to Table is working to reduce food waste and foodinsecurity. Table to Tablecollects edible food fromdonors and distributes thesefood items to those in needthrough agencies that serve the hungry, homeless, and at-risk populations. Since 1996,Table to Table has rescuedabout 12 million pounds offood from grocery stores,restaurants, schools, andother food operations. To learnmore about Table to Table, visit www.table2table.org/.

Ice Cold Facts

ice cubesJust because ice is cold does not mean it is protected against certain viruses and bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Therefore, ice should be handled like any other food.

When planning your tailgating activities this football season, ice will play an important part in keeping your food safe for you, your family, and your friends. Protect yourself, family, and friends by following these “Ice Cold Food Safety Tips:”

• Avoid touching ice with dirty hands or glasses.
• Use clean, nonbreakable utensils to handle ice (i.e., tongs, scoop).
• Store your ice in a clean container. If you are using an ice chest/cooler, be sure to wash it with hot soapy water and let it air dry before using it.
• Keep the ice you want to use in your drinks in a separate cooler from the ice that you are using to keep your foods cold.
• Use ice bags that are sealed shut rather than drawstring bags. By keeping your ice bag closed, you are also preventing your ice from getting contaminated.

For more information about food safety, visit the Food Safety website at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/food-safety-families.