Whether you are back to school or work, packing a meal can have some amazing benefits! Packed meals may be lower in calories and provide more essential nutrients, such as fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Packing meals also saves money. It is important to remember lunch-box food safety when packing your meal. Follow these tips to prevent being ill when eating on the go.
- Keep cold food below 40°F and hot food above 140°F.
- Use an insulated lunch box. Some food is safe without a cold source, like whole fruits and vegetables, canned meat and fish, and peanut butter.
- For perishable foods, keep foods cold by including at least two cold sources. Use two frozen gel packs or combine a frozen gel pack with a frozen juice box, fruit cup, or frozen bottled water. Place cold sources on top and bottom of perishable food items, including lunch meats, eggs, cheese, yogurt, and milk.
- Clean your lunch box or bag regularly to avoid bacteria growing on the sides.
Source: USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, www.fsis.usda.gov/
Bacteria love avocados almost as much as people do. Unlike most fruits, the avocado is low in acid. That makes it good for bacterial growth. In addition, we like to eat avocados raw, which means we don’t kill the bacteria by cooking.
Based on a 2014–2016 study, the FDA found that about 18% of avocados had Listeria monocytogenes on their skins. In small amounts, this germ isn’t dangerous for healthy adults. However, it can cause serious harm to young children, older people, and pregnant women.
- To prepare an avocado safely, you first need to wash your handscarefully.
- Then rinse the avocado’s skin thoroughly before you cut it open.Otherwise, the blade will carry the germs on the skin into the pulp.
- Throw away the skin and the pit promptly.
- To avoid bacterial growth, eat the avocado as soon as possible aftercutting and peeling.
Source: Colorado State University: Food Source Information, fsi.colostate.edu/avocados/#food-safety
How often do you wash your cloth kitchen towels? In a recent study, researchers examined the bacterial content of 100 kitchen towels that families used for one month without washing. They found significant bacterial growth on 49 of these towels, including bacteria that can cause serious illness, such as Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli. The towels most likely to harbor bacteria were made of cotton. Because cotton is more absorbent than nylon and other synthetic fabrics, it’s better able to hold the moisture bacteria need to grow. Towels used for just one purpose, such as only wiping utensils, held much less bacteria than multipurpose towels used for drying dishes, wiping hands, and cleaning up spills.
To prevent illness, toss reusable dish towels into the laundry after each use. A damp dish towel, especially, should not be reused before laundering. Air-dry dishes and utensils in a rack rather than wipe them with a cloth towel. Be sure to wash and sanitize sinks, counters, and refrigerator handles daily to reduce the risk of bacteria transferring from these surfaces to your clean towels.
Sources: www.medpagetoday.com/meetingcoverage/asmmicrobe/73401; www.healthline.com/health-news/your-kitchen-towels-are-probably-full-of-bacteria#1
We all do our best to serve our families food that’s safe and healthy, but some common myths about food safety may surprise you.
Myth #1: I don’t need to wash fruits or vegetables if I’m going to peel them.
Fact: Because it’s easy to transfer bacteria from the peel or rind when you’re cutting to the inside of your fruits and veggies, it’s important to wash all produce, even if you plan to peel it.
Myth #2: To get rid of any bacteria on my meat, poultry, or seafood, I should rinse off.
Fact: Rinsing meat, poultry, or seafood with water can increase your chance of food poisoning by splashing juices and any bacteria they might contain onto your sink and counters.
Myth #3: If I really want my produce to be safe, I should wash fruits and vegetables with soap or detergent before I use them.
Fact: It’s best not to use soaps or detergents on produce since these products can linger on foods and are not safe for consumption. Using clean, lukewarm, running water is actually the best way to remove bacteria and wash produce safely.
Myth #4: I saw on the Internet that I can cook my whole meal in my coffee maker.
Fact: Cooking your meal in a coffee maker is not an approved or tested method for safe preparation of foods. Besides, the coffee flavor residue would transfer to anything placed in the coffee maker.