Ventura County Environmental Health Greets Residents with Food Safety Every September

Every year in September the Ventura County (CA) Environmental Health Division sets up a food safety display in the lobby of the County Government Center Building. The lobby is often bustling with county residents.

This year the display featured the English and Spanish versions of the two-minute “Story of Your Dinner” video.

Residents could also pick up pamphlets from the department along with handouts from the Partnership for Food Safety Education, including the Food Safety Tips flyer and activity sheets for school-aged children.  The Four Core Practices – Clean, Separate, Cool, Chill – are an important part of the display every year.

“The Ventura County Environmental Health Division appreciates partnering with PFSE in the education of our county residents,” said Susan Seiler.

The goals of this annual display are public outreach and education about the importance of food safety and following the Four Core Practices at home and at work.

Susan Seiler is an environmental health specialist with the Ventura County Environmental Health Division. She can be reached at (805) 648-9245 or susan.seiler@ventura.org.

 

Partnership for Food Safety Education featured in Diabetes Forecast magazine

Shelley Feist, executive director of the Partnership for Food Safety Education, is featured in the July/August 2018 issue of Diabetes Forecast magazine. She discusses summer food safety and how to avoid foodborne illness when prepping, cooking, serving and storing your summer favorites. Read an excerpt from the article below.

We’ve all been there: staring at the remains of a summer picnic and wondering exactly how long the food has been sitting out. Surely there’s no harm in having a chicken leg grilled a few hours ago.

“You cannot see, smell, or taste the bacteria that cause foodborne illness,” says Shelley Feist, executive director of the Partnership for Food Safety Education. “Food that is left too long at unsafe temperatures could smell and look just fine but be dangerous to eat.” What’s more, though a few hours can seem like no time at all, the number of bacteria can double in just 20 minutes. That can lead to illness.

While foodborne illness is no picnic for anyone, it’s extra dangerous for people with diabetes. “High blood glucose levels may interact with the body’s natural infection-control defenses, which may put individuals with diabetes at higher risk for contracting foodborne illness,” says registered dietitian Susan Weiner, RD, CDE. They may also take longer to recover from food poisoning and be more likely to be hospitalized with it.

To stay safe in the heat, simple and basic food-safety precautions should be part of everyone’s summer wellness strategy.

Thaw out
If you’re starting with frozen meat, take the proper precautions. “You should never defrost food at room temperature,” says Feist. “Food must always be kept at the safe temperature of 40 degrees or less during thawing.”

The safest place to thaw food without increasing the risk of bacterial growth is in the refrigerator. “Always make sure that meat and poultry thawing in the refrigerator do not leak juices onto other foods,” says Feist. That could lead to cross contamination.

Be a safe server
To avoid food spoilage and illness, perishable food should not be left out at room temperature for longer than two hours. “On very hot days, when the temperature exceeds 90 degrees, food should not be left out for more than one hour,” says Feist.

Store with care
Planning for leftovers? They’re often a source of foodborne illness, but some simple techniques can help keep your food safe long after the party ends.

When it comes to food safety, the faster you store your food, the better. “Cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria,” says Feist. Keep your refrigerator between 32 and 40 degrees and your freezer at 0 degrees or below. An appliance thermometer can help ensure the temperature is consistently at recommended levels.

When packing away leftovers, take care not to overcrowd your refrigerator or freezer. “Cold air must circulate to help keep food safe, and overcrowding can prevent this,” says Feist.

Read the full article in the July/August 2018 issue of Diabetes Forecast magazine.

BAC Fighter Julie Buck Discusses How to Handle Food During a Power Outage

Julie Buck, EdD, RDN, University of Idaho Extension

During a power outage, the clock starts ticking on the safety of your perishable foods. If you are aware of approaching high electricity use, summer storm, tornado or hurricane, you can be prepared.

BEFORE: If you are able to prepare in advance, make sure you are using appliance thermometers in your fridge and freezer. Have a cooler or two at the ready, filled with ice or several frozen gel packs. Research where dry ice or block ice are available near you.

DURING: Once the power goes out, be mindful of time and temperature. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Your refrigerator will hold a safe temperature for about four hours. Your freezer, if packed full, will hold food at a safe temperature for about 48 hours with no power — at half full, the time decreases to 24 hours. Food is safe to refreeze if it still has ice crystals or if the freezer did not rise above 40 °F.

AFTER: When the power is back on, check the temperature inside your freezer and refrigerator by looking at the thermometer. If the temperature is still 0 ⁰F or below for freezer and 40 ⁰F or below for refrigerator, your food should be fine. NEVER taste food to determine its safety. The following foods are safe if held above 40 ⁰F for more than 2 hours: hard cheeses, grated Parmesan cheese, butter or margarine, opened fruit juices, jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, ketchup, olives, pickles, and Worcestershire, soy, barbecue and Hoisin sauces, peanut better, opened vinegar-based dressing, bread products, breakfast breads, fruit pies, fresh mushrooms, herbs, spices, uncut raw vegetables and fruit. What you should throw out: meat, poultry or seafood products; soft cheeses and shredded cheeses; milk, cream, yogurt, and other dairy products; opened baby formula; eggs and egg products; dough, cooked pasta; cooked or cut produce.

After a flood, do not eat any food that may have touched flood water. True story: earlier this year bottled peaches were brought into the Bingham County Extension office which survived the 1976 Teton Dam Flood with the jar still sealed! It was properly discarded. Discard food not in waterproof containers; screw-caps, snap lids, pull tops, and crimped tops are not waterproof. Discard cardboard juice/milk/baby formula boxes and home canned foods. Discard any damaged cans that have swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting, or crushing/denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening. Mix a sanitizing solution of 1 Tablespoon unscented bleach with one gallon water to disinfect pots, pans, dishes, utensils, and undamaged all-metal cans after removing the label. Relabel with a permanent marker.

Preparing for disasters in advanced is helpful to provide peace of mind. Knowing how to manage our food supply before, during and after a disaster will be essential to living. For more information contact your local extension office or visit Partnership for Food Safety Education’s website at www.fightbac.org.

Julie Buck, EdD, RDN, is a registered dietitian, and Family and Consumer Sciences educator employed at the University of Idaho Extension, Bingham County. She can be reached at (208) 785-8060 or jhbuck@uidaho.edu.

** Reprinted from Idaho State Journal. **

 

Taking a Page from Produce Pro

A 25-student Healthy School Committee at Sir Arthur Carty Elementary School of London, Ontario, is turning favorite family recipes into a school-wide good health project.

Under the leadership of Elizabeth Hubbell, a public health nurse for the Middlesex London Health Unit, the school was awarded a grant of $2,400 through the province to partner with teachers and create the Carty-Cuisine Cookbook.

The student committee connected with families to collect home recipes aimed at inspiring students and families to create healthy and delicious meals passed down from generations and originating from a variety of cultural backgrounds. With permission from the Partnership for Food Safety Education, the Carty-Cuisine Cookbook features a consumer fact sheet from the ProducePro campaign. This flyer reminds families to check fresh produce for bruising and damage; clean hands and surface areas; rinse fresh produce; separate fresh produce from other foods; and chill cut produce below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The cookbook will be distributed to more than 350 families. It will provide a platform for families to gather, eat healthy foods, and learn the importance of safe food handling techniques.

Elizabeth Hubbell is a public health nurse for the Middlesex London Health Unit. She can be reached at elizabeth.hubbell@mlhu.on.ca.

Webinar an Opportunity for Class at Eastern Illinois University

Lauri J. DeRuiter-Willems teaches an undergraduate health marketing course in the Department of Health Promotion at Eastern Illinois University. The class had just finished discussing social marketing in class when Lauri saw an announcement of the Partnership’s webinar “Using Community-Based Social Marketing to Change Behavior.”

Lauri immediately saw the opportunity and assembled her students to watch the webinar live as a class on Feb. 15. Their assembled group included 15 undergraduate students and two professors.

The students reported that the information shared in the webinar gave them “real life” examples of using social marketing in health promotion efforts. Also, the information followed the guidelines set forth in CDCynergy Social Marketing training modules which are the basis of the class’ unit on social marketing.

“I am happy that I saw the announcement for this webinar. I was able to include my students so they could further develop their knowledge of social marketing, and see ways to use it in their future internships and careers,” said Lauri.

What a great way to extend the reach of the PFSE webinars! Thank you, Lauri!

Lauri J. DeRuiter-Willems, Eastern Illinois University