August is “back to school” time. Does your child bring a lunch from home? When packing school lunches, it’s important to consider food safety. First, wash your insulated lunch box or bag with warm water and soap. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds prior to preparing foods. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next item. Preparing and freezing sandwiches the night before is a time saver. Don’t freeze sandwiches that contain tomato, cucumber, or lettuce. Pack your lunch bags right before leaving home.
Insulated, soft-sided lunch boxes or bags help keep food cold, but pack at least two ice sources with perishable food in any lunch bag you use. You can use a frozen juice box or bottle of water rather than a frozen gel pack. When packing your bag lunch, place the frozen ice source above and below the perishable food items to keep them cold.
Want more information? Check out Freezing Sandwiches, https://food. unl.edu/fnh/freezing-sandwiches.
We have heard a lot about the benefits of walking, but sometimes it seems boring to walk the same route all the time. There are ways to make it more interesting for everyone. Examples include the following:
Research community history and explore it on a walk.
Have you wondered about an interesting house or building in your community? Check with your local public library; they may have information about community history.
Another idea is to listen to a podcast or an audiobook on your walk. There are many interesting podcasts—some are educational, inspiring, or entertaining. Audiobooks are also available through most public library apps, including Libby and Overdrive, as well as paid services.
Keep these safety tips in mind when walking:
Let someone know where you are going.
Take a cell phone.
Be aware of your surroundings.
Take a walking buddy for companionship.
Keep the volume of your headphones at a reasonable level so you can hear others, cars, etc.
When spring arrives, we typically deep clean for the coming season. With the cold weather outside, it’s a good time to clean the freezer. It’s important to keep the freezer clean of frost and food debris. Here are some tips for cleaning and maintaining your freezer:
Remove all frozen food items.
Check items for expiration dates and for freezer burn.
Consider throwing out any food that appears old and dried out. It may still be safe to eat, but the quality may be poor. Ice crystals on the inside of packages may indicate thawing and refreezing—those packages may need to be thrown out. Frozen food can be stored up to 1 year.
Pack food items you are keeping in another freezer or a cooler until you can return them to the freezer.
Wipe down the freezer with one tablespoon of baking soda in one quart of water. Then wipe with clean water before turning the freezer back on.
Let the freezer cool down for about 30 minutes before placing the frozen items back into it.
Put a freezer thermometer near the door of the freezer and check it periodically. Adjust the temperature control as needed to keep foods at or below 0°F.
Myth: “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.
Eggs made news earlier this year because of a salmonella outbreak. Properly handling and storing eggs will reduce the risk of contaminating eggs with salmonella. Salmonella infection is often the result of eating raw or undercooked eggs or egg products, meat, or poultry. It can take from several hours to about two days to cause symptoms. Following is a list of possible signs and symptoms of salmonella infection:
Blood in the stool
There are many ways to make sure eggs are safe to eat. Use the following tips:
Buy eggs only if sold from a refrigerator or refrigerated case at 45°F.
Store eggs in their original carton on a shelf in the refrigerator (not in the door) and use them within 3 weeks for best quality.
Wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after they come in contact with eggs and egg-containing foods.
Cook eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny.
Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160°F (72°C). Use a food thermometer to be sure.
For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served—Caesar salad dressing and homemade ice cream are two examples— use pasteurized egg products.
Avoid taste-testing egg-containing foods before they are thoroughly cooked.
For buffet-style serving, hot egg dishes should be kept hot, and cold egg dishes kept cold.
Cooked eggs, including hard-boiled eggs, and egg-containing foods should not sit out for more than 2 hours. Within 2 hours either reheat or refrigerate.
Use hard-cooked eggs (in the shell or peeled) within 1 week after cooking.
Refrigerate leftover cooked egg dishes and use within 3 to 4 days. When refrigerating a large amount of a hot egg-containing leftover, divide it into several shallow containers so it will cool quickly.
Cooked eggs for a picnic should be packed in an insulated cooler with enough ice or frozen gel packs to keep them cold. Don’t put the cooler in the trunk— carry it in the air-conditioned passenger compartment of the car.