You Asked It!

COVID-19 and Surfaces

Wash hands for 20 seconds

When COVID-19 started in the U.S., there were concerns that the virus could be transmitted via surfaces and packaging. This caused consumers to buy cleaning supplies like never before and not using cleaners as directed.

As time has passed, the evidence supports that transmission of COVID-19 is primarily through respiratory droplets in the air. Therefore, the use of masks, handwashing, and keeping at least six feet distance from each other is key.

For surfaces or packaging to be a problem, there has to be a unique set of events to occur. First, a large amount of the virus would have to be present. Then, it would need to survive long enough to result in spread. Finally, without washing your hands, you would have to touch your face.

The few studies done on this issue involved the use of high amounts of the virus, much more than what happens in a real world situation. And, while it proved the virus can stay alive on surfaces, it did not prove transmission.

Excess or incorrect usage of disinfectants can cause skin irritation and respiratory health issues, especially for those with asthma.

Bottom line, wear your mask, keep your distance, and wash your hands. Do your part!



2020 Urban Food Systems Symposium

The 2020 Urban Food System Symposium will be held virtually each Wednesday in October 2020.

The goal is to share knowledge on urban agricultural production, local food systems distribution, urban farmer education, urban ag policy, planning and development, food access and justice, and food sovereignty. Topics include nutrition and food security, climate change, food production, and more.

Registration is now open! Learn more about this event at


Preserving Unripe Tomatoes

tomatoesAs fall approaches, those end of season unripe tomatoes are still usable. Be sure to pick them before a frost or freeze if canning them.

Unripe, or green, tomatoes can be preserved just like ripe tomatoes. So when canning them they still require acidification. Here are some ideas to can green tomatoes.

Don’t want to can them, or it is after a frost or freeze? Then freeze them for later use.



Another Reason to Get Up and Move!

Being sedentary has been associated with several negative healthy outcomes. Now there is a potential link to cancer mortality.

In a study of 8,002 adults, studied over five years, found 268 participants were independently associated with cancer mortality. Participants wore a hip-mounted accelerometer to measure activity for seven days. Replacing 30 minutes of sitting with 30-minutes of light activity resulted in 8% lower risk of cancer mortality. A 30–minute moderate amount of activity resulted in 31% lower risk of cancer mortality.

The message continues, get up and move for better health!

Source: JAMA Oncology, June 18, 2020


Hand Sanitizers are not Drinks!

Some hand sanitizers are being packaged in containers that look like food and drinks for adults and kids.

Some examples included packaging in beer cans, children’s food pouches, water bottles, juice bottles and vodka bottles. Some are also flavored such as chocolate or raspberry. This can disguise the sanitizer even more to smell like food.

Drinking or eating even a small amount of hand sanitizer can be lead to cardiac effects, central nervous system problems, hospitalizations and even death. Seek medical help immediately.

Learn more at

For a list of approved hand sanitizers, see


Halloween and COVID-19

Have a family friendly Halloween to keep everyone safe!

Do you get lots of trick-or-treaters for Halloween? This year might be a little different. Is it safe for kids to take candy from strangers during a pandemic?

First and foremost, follow your community guidelines. Know the keys to keep healthy, avoid crowds, wash your hands, wear a face covering.  The look of face coverings may be quite creative this Halloween! Even if you are outside, you may still be around a lot of other goblins, so wear those masks. Small groups are better than large groups.

Designate one person to hand out treats that are individually wrapped. Don’t let the goblins dig into the bowl. Have hand sanitizer available for anyone to use.

Host a trunk-or-treat event and put extra space between cars to thin out the crowd. A Halloween drive-by parade in the neighborhood could be a spooky treat!

There is no need to wipe down the treat packaging. After trick-or-treating, wash your hands before snacking on those treats.

Above all, have fun and be safe!


CFSEC 2021 Call for Abstracts

The Consumer Food Safety Education Conference (CFSEC) will be virtual March 9-12, 2021. Plan now to submit an abstract for a poster or session. The theme is Now you Have my Attention: Hand Hygiene and Food Safety Education for Everyone.

Share your food safety education success in the following categories:

  • Cutting Through Clutter: What’s Working to Engage Consumers?
  • Safe Food Handling in Today’s Food Landscape
  • Food Safety Education Program Successes—posters only

Abstracts will be accepted by October 14, 2020.


Willie and the Salad Bonanza

K-State Olathe is hosting a Salad Bonanza! This event is open to schools, 4-H, scouts, FFA and other youth groups. The goal is to reach youth interested in the scientific principles of plant growth.

Teams of four youth will grow Dwarf Blue Curled Vates kale, Hybrid Space Spinach and Looseleaf lettuce in the same container in a 43-day time span. The challenge is to see who can grow the most produce! Teams will also fill out documentation to track the progress.

This containers will be judged at K-State Olathe. Learn more about this miniature farm-to-fork event. Registration is due September 30.


Fall Canning Tips

At this writing, the calendar still says summer, but there is a fall feel. Gardens may still be producing, so here are some end-of-season tips for food preservation.

Done canning? Store your equipment with care for next season.