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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
** Reprinted from Idaho State Journal. **
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 email@example.com.
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!
Spring is nearly here and with it comes some special holidays and holiday foods. Using a food thermometer when preparing meals is essential to serving safe food to our family and friends. Cooking food thoroughly is one of the four steps in preventing food borne illness according to the national “Fight BAC!™” campaign. The other three steps are: having clean hands and surfaces, separating raw and cooked foods and chilling leftovers promptly.
Here is some food safety advice from the USDA for foods typically served at spring holidays.
• EGGS: Hard-cooked eggs should be cooked thoroughly. Refrigerate eggs within two hours of cooking and use them within a week.
• DYEING AND HUNTING EGGS: To dye hard-cooked eggs, use a food-safe coloring and place them in the refrigerator within two hours. Hard-cooked eggs for an egg hunt must be prepared with care to prevent cracking the shells. If the shells crack, bacteria could contaminate the inside. The total time for hiding and hunting eggs should not be longer than two hours. The “found” eggs must be scrubbed with a brush or cloth under running water, dried and then re-refrigerated until eaten. You could also hide plastic eggs and then use the refrigerated decorated eggs to eat.
• BEEF AND LAMB are often served at spring dinners. Marinated meat must be kept in the refrigerator before cooking. Roasts, steaks, and chops should be cooked to at least 145°F in an oven set no lower than 325°F. Ground meats, on the other hand, should be cooked to 160°F.
• HAM: Both vacuum-packaged fully cooked and canned hams can be eaten cold just as they come from their packaging. To reheat them, set the oven no lower than 325°F and heat to an internal temperature of 140°F. Cook-before-eating hams must be baked in an oven set no lower than 325°F and reach 160°F before serving. Hams can also be safely cooked in a microwave oven, other countertop appliances and on the stove top.
• TURKEY OR CHICKEN: To defrost frozen poultry, place it in the refrigerator allowing one day for every four pounds. These birds can also be safely thawed by submerging the wrapped poultry in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes. When roasting whole poultry, set the oven to no lower than 325°F and heat to an internal temperature of 165°F in the thigh as measured with a food thermometer. If stuffing whole poultry, make the dressing immediately before inserting it loosely in the cavity. The stuffing must reach 165°F before removing the bird from the oven.
• HANDLING LEFTOVERS: No perishable foods should stand at room temperature for more than two hours. Place leftovers in shallow containers, refrigerate, and use or freeze within three to four days. Thoroughly reheat leftovers to 165°F.
Using a thermometer lets you know that you are cooking your food thoroughly and at the same time you will know that it isn’t overcooked and dry!
Access the full article on The Daily Reporter website.
Jeannie Nichols is a food safety educator for Michigan State University Extension. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-439-9301.