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.
Beyond creating delicious meals, people who write recipes have an important role to play in helping others remember to cook their food safely. Did you know that when recipes include food safety tips, people are more likely to follow those steps and cook their foods safely?
Help prevent the spread of foodborne illness by including simple reminders for safe food handling and preparation in all your recipes. Learn how to add tips for fruits and vegetables; meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and flour; and how to store food safely at https://bit.ly/2IJOrsH.
In accordance to specific rules in the Delaney Clause, the Food and Drug Administration has removed seven flavor additives from being used in food manufacturing.
The Delaney Clause is legislation, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1958, that forbids the use of any food additives that can be carcinogenic to any animal or in humans. Therefore, these seven additives are removed based on this law.
The removed flavors are synthetically-derived benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether (methyl eugenol), myrcene, pulegone, and pyridine. The seventh flavor, styrene, is being delisted because it is no longer used. This action is based on the law, not because they are unsafe to use at the recommended usage level.
These flavor compounds are naturally found in grapes, pineapples, oranges and other foods. They were used in bakery and confectionary processing.
Thanksgiving remains the “Super Bowl” of home cooking. The Partnership for Food Safety Education supports people in making the holiday meal and its leftovers delicious and safe. This webinar will discuss the importance of handwashing and good hygiene in the kitchen. Marianne Gravely, an expert from the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, will cover confusion expressed by consumers about the main part of the meal — the holiday turkey — and simple guidance to alleviate confusion and anxiety. Other topics will include side dishes and recipes with safe handling instructions built in, and convenience foods and take-out items as enhancements to home preparation of meal components. The webinar will conclude with proper handling and storage of holiday meal leftovers as well as reheating basics to cover with consumers.
In recent years, consumers have been victims to cantaloupe food recalls due to pathogenic contamination from the growing environment, insects, animals, or human contact. Research conducted at the University of Connecticut has shown a possible new way to prevent the growth of pathogens on cantaloupe rinds.
Cantaloupe rinds are difficult to clean and disinfect. Chlorine is typically used, but is not always effective. Researchers used the probiotic, lactic acid bacteria (LAB), that acts as a natural biological control method. LAB are used in fermented foods like yogurt and cheese. They could be biosanitizers for controlling plant pathogens and soil-borne pathogens as a natural antimicrobial tool for effective decontamination.
Research is on-going with the hope of promising results!
If you must eat a gluten-free diet, it can be a challenge to do so in a restaurant. In research conducted by Columbia University, they found that in the restaurants they tested, about one-third of the food labeled as gluten-free, actually contained some gluten.
In this study, data was collected from restaurants in Western states and Northeastern states. A portable gluten detection device was used. Each test included date/time, food item, restaurant name and address, presence/absence of a gluten-free label, and presence/absence of gluten. They collect 5,624 tests. Gluten was detected in 27.2% occurrences at breakfast and 34.0% occurrences at dinner. Pizza and pasta labeled as gluten-free had the highest contamination readings.
According to FDA regulation, for a food to be labeled as gluten-free, it has to have <20 ppm of gluten.
Even though only a small proportion of these illnesses occur as part of a recognized outbreak, the data collected during outbreak investigations provide insights into the pathogens and foods that cause illness. Public health officials, regulatory agencies, and the food industry can use these data to help make food safer from farm to table.
How many times a week do you go out to eat? This activity is a part of the American way of life. In fact, households at more than 300 percent of the Federal poverty guidelines dined away from home 5.5 times per week. Households with income less than or equal to Federal poverty guidelines dined away from home 4.2 times per week.
In 1977-78, Americans consumed 17.8 percent of calories away from home. By 2011-14, away-from-home food calories increased to 33.7 percent. But, the fat calorie consumption has decreased!
In 1977-78, fat calories made up 41 percent of total calories in foods served at home and away from home. By 2011-14, fat calories decreased to 32.1 percent in foods served at home and 37.4 percent in foods eaten away from home.
The decrease in fat calories could be due to changes in school lunch guidelines, restaurant menu labeling of nutrition information, and other factors.
A recent foodborne illness outbreak occurred in northeast Kansas due to contaminated fresh tomatoes served at a church supper. Preliminary investigation results report 69 illnesses and 14 of those tested positive for Salmonella Newport. The tomatoes came from multiple sources so an environmental assessment is underway to determine the contamination source.
Salmonella Newport is the third most implicated microorganism in U.S. foodborne illness outbreaks. It tends to survive in extreme conditions such as low relative humidity, high temperature, and UV exposure. It also tends to survive on the skin surface of tomatoes. It can also become internal during plant growth as it could come from contaminated water and soil.
Therefore, care in handling fresh tomatoes from farm to fork is important. In the kitchen, take care in preventing cross contamination during tomato preparation by keeping surfaces and utensils clean and sanitized. All cut tomatoes should be stored in the refrigerator within two hours. Always wash your hands before and after handling any food as dirty hands are a significant source of foodborne illness.
Source: J. of Food Protection, Vol. 81, No. 7, 2018, pp. 1193-1213