Tag: Food Safety

Safe Food Storage Containers

When storing food, it’s important to make sure that you are using food safe containers and not ones that may pose a burden on the environment and potentially to your health. The following are suggestions for choosing and using food storage containers

  • Use the container for its intended purpose. A food grade container is one that will not transfer non-food chemicals into the food, and contains no chemicals which would be hazardous to human health. Plastics designed for single use should be used only once. Plastic breaks down over time and some are not designed to withstand heating and cooling. Most plastics with recycling code number “one” are intended for single use, such as disposable water bottles. In general, they are fine for refrigerating leftovers, but are not designed for heat exposure or long-term use. Remember to reheat leftovers to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wash by hand. Only put plastics into the dishwasher if they have a dishwasher safe label. If you want to be extra cautious, wash all plastics by hand or use only glass containers. Pay attention to lids that may contain seals, over time these deteriorate, become loosened or could collect pathogens. A tight secure seal is desirable.
  • The microwave and food containers: While a “microwave safe” or “microwavable” label on plastic containers only means that they should not melt, crack or fall apart when used in the microwave, the label is no guarantee that containers don’t leach chemicals into foods when heated. The S. Department of Agriculture also warns against microwaving in single-use containers not intended for that purpose, such as takeout platters and margarine tubs.

For more information regarding which plastics are safe for food storage please visit the following link: https://extension.usu.edu/archive/which-plastics-are-safe-for-food-storage

Source: Michigan State University

By: Ashley Svaty

Updated Fish Recommendations During Pregnancy

The Food and Drug Administration has updated their advice in regards to consuming fish while pregnant, breastfeeding, young children, and women planning to become pregnant. While the concern about consuming mercury is still valid, the advice now includes the importance of consuming fish as part of a healthy diet.

The nutritional composition of fish is beneficial to women during pregnancy and for young children. This includes heart health benefits and lower risks of obesity. The nutrients include protein, omega-3 fats, more vitamin B12 and vitamin D than any other food, iron, and other minerals like selenium, zinc, and iodine. A serving size for adults is 4 ounces and to consume two to three servings a week.

The FDA guidance includes charts and information in English and Spanish. There are lists of different types of fish categorized by best choices, good choices, and choices to avoid.

Learn more at www.fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish

By: Ashley Svaty

Seven Steps to Safe Summer Food

Follow the suggestions below to Fight BAC!® (foodborne bacteria) and reduce the risk of foodborne illness this summer.

  • Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.  Sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat twice to get a sense of how long you should wash.
  • Always marinate food in the refrigerator. Don’t use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food. Reserve a portion of the unused marinade to use as a sauce.
  • When grilling foods, preheat the coals on your grill for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the coals are lightly coated with ash.
  • Always use a food thermometer to ensure that food reaches a safe internal temperature.
  • Hamburgers should be cooked to 160 ºF, while large cuts of beef such as roasts and steaks may be cooked to 145 ºF for medium rare or to 160 ºF for medium.  Poultry must reach a temperature of 165 °F.
  • When taking foods off the grill, do not put cooked food items back on the same plate that held raw food, unless it has been washed with hot water and soap first. And in hot weather (above 90°F) foods should never sit out for more than one hour before going in the refrigerator.
  • A full cooler will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled so it is important to pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs to ensure a constant cold temperature. Keep the cooler out of the direct sun.

Source: www.fightbac.org

By: Ashley Svaty

Electric Pressure Cookers Still Not Safe for Canning

The message continues. Do not use electric pressure cookers for canning. Research conducted at Utah State University shows that electric pressure cookers do not always reach or sustain safe temperature levels for safe canning. This is even more critical at higher altitudes.

Electric pressure cookers also have faster heat up and cool down time periods. This can affect heat transfer and pathogen destruction.

Learn more about Utah State University’s study at https://bit.ly/2Yqxhah and from Food Safety News at https://bit.ly/2JydlyO.

Photo source: Utah State University Extension

By:  Ashley Svaty

Handling Recalled Food

Food recalls happen almost daily and many do not get a lot of publicity. In a majority of recalls, it is the manufacturer that issues a voluntary recall.

Manufacturers will work with the FDA or USDA to help determine the reason for the recall and to fix the issue. If foodborne illnesses have occurred, the CDC and state health departments will also be involved.

As consumers, it is important to pay attention to recalls to eliminate the chance of getting sick. Recall announcements give specific information about the food recall including the type of food, brand, package size, date codes, manufacturer codes, shelf life dates, distribution locations, and other pertinent information.

If you have a recalled food, take it back to where it was purchased for a refund, or throw it away. Do not take the chance of eating it or feeding it to animals.

Learn more at www.foodsafety.gov/recalls/index.html.

By:  Ashley Svaty

Keep Holiday Meals Safe

Whether it is a simple meal for two, or a large gathering with a buffet, food safety is a priority at any meal, and especially at the holidays. Nobody wants the gift of foodborne illness!

Are you the host for the holiday meal? Reduce your stress by starting a list now to plan the location, food and recipes, activities and games, and what your guests could bring. Put it in a timeline or on a calendar to stay on schedule.

Are you buying a fresh or frozen turkey? If you choose fresh, be sure to place an order with your grocer or butcher shop and pick it up 1-2 days before the meal. Frozen turkeys can be purchased any time and stored in the freezer. Pay attention to grocery sales to save some money.

Frozen turkeys are best thawed in the refrigerator or in cold water. In the refrigerator, plan on at least five days for a 20 pound turkey. In cold water, allow about 30 minutes per pound of turkey.

Do you only have one oven?  Use a slow cooker for hot dishes. A table top roaster oven can be used like a regular oven for many items. Even electric pressure cookers can cook up some tasty dishes! Some items, such as dessert or bread can be made ahead and frozen.

When cooking the turkey, remember that 325 degrees F is the lowest oven temperature to safely cook turkey. Use a food thermometer to be sure it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

Learn more at www.ksre.k-state.edu/foodsafety/topics/holiday.html

By:  Ashley Svaty

Pre-Cut Melon and Salmonella

Posted in September You Asked It!

This summer, pre-cut melons were recalled due to Salmonella contamination. This included pre-cut cantaloupe, watermelon, and a fruit salad mix sold in grocery stores in nine states. While Salmonella is usually connected to meat, poultry, or eggs, it may seem unusual for melons. But, melons are not like many other fruits.

Most fruits are considered high acid, or low in acidity with a pH averaging between 3.0 and 4.0. Melons have a pH between 5.0 and 7.0. This makes them a low acid food. Salmonella thrives in a pH range of 4.1-9.0. So melons can support the growth of Salmonella. It can also grow in a temperature range of 43-115°F. Therefore, in this recall, if temperature abuse occurred at any point, Salmonella would grow.

Good handling practices are your best defense. Always scrub and wash melons before cutting them open. Store cut fruit in the refrigerator. Keep it separate from raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs. Use clean utensils to serve fresh melons. Wash your hands before and after handling melons or other produce. When buying pre-cut melons or other fresh produce, be sure they are cold and refrigerate promptly.

Sources:

www.cdc.gov/salmonella/adelaide-06-18/index.html

https://food.unl.edu/salmonella

www.fightbac.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/ConsumerFact_Sheet.pdf

By:  Ashley Svaty