Be the Food Safety MVP on Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday is fast approaching. The big game is a big day for food. When food sits out at room temperature for long periods of time, the door is open to uninvited guests—bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Every year 48 million people become ill from foodborne illness! Don’t be the cause of a foodborne illness penalty flag! Follow these game day rules:

  • Keep hot food HOT and cold food COLD: Hot food needs to be held at 140°F or higher. Use slow cookers and warming trays. Cold food needs to be held at 40°F or lower. Nest dishes in bowls of ice. Otherwise, use small serving trays and replace them as needed.
  • Follow the two-hour rule: Perishable foods should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Between the pre- and post-game shows, you may easily have food sitting out 4–6 hours; temperature control is required.
  • Handle food safely: Always wash your hands before handling food, and clean all surfaces. Use different utensils for each food item and ask guests to use new plates when returning to the food table.
bowl of chili

For more information on food safety and cooking temperatures, visit ISU’s food safety website or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854.

Holiday Food Safety Hacks

Food is a big part of holiday celebrations. Follow these safe food handling tips to prevent unwelcome foodborne illness from ruining your holidays!

  • Safely thaw food in the refrigerator, in the microwave or in a cool water bath (change water every 30 minutes).
  • Wash hands thoroughly in warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before, during and after food preparation.
  • Use hot, soapy water to wash countertops, cutting boards, refrigerator door handles and utensils.
  • Use two cutting boards, one to prepare raw meats and one to prepare fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Use separate spoons and forks to taste, stir and serve food.
  • Place leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours of serving.
Washing hands in sink

Adapted from 10 Holiday Home Food Safety Tips (www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/safety-tips/holidays/10-holiday-home-food-safety-tips)

Fair Food Safety

There is nothing more fun than attending a summer fair or celebration with your family. There are so many things to see, do, and enjoy—especially the food. To make safe food choices and reduce the chances of you or a family member getting food poisoning, here are some food safety tips:

  • Before choosing a food vendor, look at their workstations and note if they are clean and tidy. Does the vendor wear/use disposable gloves when preparing food?
  • Are there handwashing sinks/stations for the vendor/employees?
  • Are gloves or tongs used to serve food to customers?
  • If the vendor provides single service utensils, are they individually wrapped? (Unwrapped eating utensils have the potential for contamination from dirt, air, flies, and even customers.)
  • Be sure your hot food is hot and cold food is cold. If not, tell the vendor.
  • Choose a clean place to sit and eat your meal.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Bring hand sanitizers or hand wipes in case it is difficult to wash your hands.

Following these tips will keep you on your way to a safe and happy summertime event!

Source: Centers for Disease Control

Nutrition: Sorting Fact from Fiction

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2018 Food and Health Survey reported consumer confusion about food and nutrition. Eighty percent of survey respondents stated they have come across conflicting information about food and nutrition, and 59% state the conflicting information makes them doubt their food choices.

It is no wonder consumers are confused. There is an explosion of nutrition and food safety Fact or Fictioninformation readily available, making it difficult to sort fact from fiction. One reliable source is the IFIC Foundation. The IFIC Foundation’s mission is to effectively communicate science-based information on health, nutrition, and food safety for the public good. The public nonprofit organization partners with credible professional organizations, government agencies, and academic institutions to advance the public understanding of key issues.

Topics recently explored on the IFIC Foundation’s website and blog include the following:

  • What’s the Carnivore Diet?
  • Google Can’t Diagnose Your Food Allergy
  • Everything You Need to Know About Aspartame
  • Snacking Series: Do Snacks Lead to Weight Gain?

Food Advocates Communicating Through Science (FACTS) is a global network of the IFIC Foundation that can help consumers understand the science behind the myths and truth related to food, nutrition, and food safety.

Learn more about the IFIC Foundation or about FACTS.

Source: IFIC Foundation

Sheet Pan Meal Safety

Sheet pan mealSheet pan meals are a popular trend for those on a busy schedule. These meals often contain a protein source for the main dish and two vegetables for sides—cooked together on a single sheet pan in the oven. Cooking multiple menu items in one pan appeals to those looking for recipes that require little preparation and use minimal dishes. Sheet pan meals can be very convenient and nutritious. However, it is important to keep food safety in mind. Follow these tips for a safe sheet pan meal:

  • Wash the vegetables thoroughly before cooking. This can prevent the introduction of bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.
  • Use separate utensils and cutting boards for produce and raw meats.
  • Cook the protein source to the correct internal temperature:
    • Chicken—165oF
    • Beef (steaks, chops)—145oF
    • Pork—145oF
    • Seafood—145oF

Hot Dogs and Food Safety

Hot dogs

The same general food safety guidelines apply to hot dogs as to all perishable foods: keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. When you buy hot dogs, refrigerate or freeze them promptly. Never leave hot dogs at room temperature for more than 2 hours or 1 hour if it is 90 degrees or higher.

Although hot dogs are fully cooked, those at higher risk for foodborne illness—including pregnant women, preschoolers, older adults, and anyone with a weakened immune system—should reheat hot dogs until steaming hot because of the risk of listeriosis. Listeria monocytogenes, the bacteria that causes listeriosis, may also be found in other foods like luncheon meat, cold cuts, soft cheese, and unpasteurized milk. Symptoms may include fever, chills, headaches, backache, upset stomach, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. It may also cause miscarriages. Call your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms. If you have Listeriosis, your provider can treat you.

Source: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA

Food Safety for Donated Garden Produce

fruits and vegetablesDonating extra produce from your garden is a great way to reduce waste and address food insecurity in your community. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has two publications that are useful to review if you plan to donate produce this growing season. Growing Together: Food Safety in Donation Gardens provides useful tips for keeping donation garden produce safe during the stages of growing, harvest, and transport. Tips include keeping pets away from the garden, washing hands before and after handling produce, and using municipal (drinking) water to rinse and remove visible dirt from produce. Another publication titled Top 13 Vegetables to Donate to Food Pantries discusses the produce that food pantries prefer to receive because clients recognize them, they are simple to prepare, they can be used in many different ways, and they can be stored at least one or two days without refrigeration.

Find the no-cost resources online at the Extension Store:  Growing Together: Food Safety in Donation Gardens and Top 13 Vegetables to Donate to Food Pantries

Oatmeal: It’s a Keeper!

 

Jar of oats

Hot cereals, such as oatmeal, are money-saving breakfast foods. Not only do they cost much less than cold breakfast cereals, but they also keep longer on the shelf. A box of oat ring cereal, for example, has a shelf life of 6–8 months. A box of oatmeal can last up to three years! This means that if you’re an oatmeal fan, you can buy it in bulk and not have to worry about it “going bad.”

To ensure the longest shelf life for all cereals, keep them in airtight containers in a cool, dry place where the temperature remains stable. Changes in temperature can cause moisture to condense from the air inside packages. Moisture can cause mold to grow. A dense box of whole grains generally lasts longer than a box of cereal rings, flakes, or puffs because it contains less air.

For more tips on safely storing grains and other dry foods, visit the website www.eatbydate.com/grains/.

Have a Happy Food-safe Holiday Season

Slow cookerHoliday season is right around the corner. Finding time-saving ways to have home-cooked meals is important when our schedules are full. Slow cookers help us save time but offer home-cooked meals.

Follow these slow-cooker food safety tips:
• Use slow-cooker recipes that include a liquid.
• Ensure that internal temperature of the food prepared reaches 160°F.
• Thaw ingredients like meat and poultry before cooking them in the slow cooker.
• Vegetables take longer to cook, so give them a head start before adding the Meat thermometermeat.
• If reheating, the contents must reach a temperature of 165°F, then they can be kept warm in the slow cooker at 140°F for serving.

Sources:
Food Safety and Inspection Service
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

 

Seafood Recommendations for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women and Young Children

The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) have issued new recommendations about eating seafood. The advice is specific for pregnant and breastfeeding women and caregivers of young children to help them make informed choices about fish and seafood.

Fish is a high-quality protein source and is rich in omega-3 fats. Americans, including pregnant women, are encouraged to eat 8–12 ounces of fish per week. The new guidelines categorize fish for safety and mercury content into three categories:

Best Choices—Eat 2–3 servings a week
Example: canned light tuna, salmon, cod, tilapia, shrimp

Good Choices—Eat 1 serving a week
Examples: halibut, snapper, grouper, tuna (yellowfin), albacore/white tuna, canned and fresh/frozen

Choices to Avoid—Highest mercury levels
Examples: King mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish (Gulf of Mexico), and tuna (bigeye)

To learn more about the recommendations, read Eating Fish: What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know, www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/Metals/ucm393070.htm.

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