You Asked It!

Author: Karen Blakeslee

The Rapid Response Center was formed in 1995 as a resource for Kansas State University Research & Extension Agents. Resource topics included Food Science, Human Nutrition, Food Service, Textiles, Home Care and other consumer topics. Since that time, the Center has grown to be of valuable assistance to Kansas State University Extension Specialists in those areas.

After the Hunt

Hunting season is in full swing for a variety of wild game species. Take time to safely handle and preserve wild game to safely provide wholesome and nourishing food for family and friends.

Key factors in keeping field dressed wild game safe are temperature control and preventing cross contamination. Meat is susceptible to foodborne pathogen contamination such as E. coli or Salmonella. This can come from the surroundings, from the gastrointestinal tract, or other handling and transport.

Start with proper equipment when going out hunting. Suggested equipment includes:

  • Sharp knives
  • Small hatchet
  • Several feet of rope or nylon cord
  • Rubber bands
  • Clean towels or paper towels
  • Resealable bags
  • Large cooler with lots of ice
  • Disposable plastic gloves
  • Fresh water

Field dress as soon as possible and chill the carcass quickly with ice or snow. Learn more information at www.rrc.k-state.edu/preservation/canning.html in the Canning Low Acid Foods section.

It’s Not the Turkey!

Turkey gets a bad rap for causing the post Thanksgiving meal nap. Give the poor bird a break!

Tryptophan is an amino acid in turkey and many other foods. The body uses it to make serotonin, which triggers happy and calm feelings, and is a precursor to melatonin, which controls wake/sleep cycles. But there’s not a lot of tryptophan in turkey to impact melatonin.

What is it then? It’s how much food you eat. We tend to overeat at the holidays which includes high carbohydrate foods, then include energy spent interacting with guests, extra time cooking and more. So, the reason to take a nap can be due to many reasons. Give the turkey a break!

Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition, Nov. 2019

Outsmart Your Cravings!

We all crave certain foods from time to time. The psychology behind cravings show that hormones, memories and other triggers create a sensory signal of craving a food. This intensifies with hunger or dieting.

So how can you outsmart these cravings? Here are some tips.

  • Take a walk! Some sort of physical activity can redirect your craving, thus putting mind over matter.
  • Your nose picks up on food odors, so try smelling a nonfood, such as a scented candle, to redirect your brain.
  • You’ve heard the saying, “my eyes were bigger than my stomach.” So keep healthful snacks in your vision.
  • Do you crave sweets? Grab naturally sweet fruit to curb that craving.
  • Thanksgiving is about comfort food. Enjoy in moderation, smaller portions, or do a healthier makeover to classic recipes.

Source: https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/buzz-brain-wired-create-food-cravings/

Health Promotion Materials

Looking for ways to promote health? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a variety of free resources to do just that.

From fact sheets, to videos, to social media messages, the CDC has many options to educate children and adults. Handwashing is one example. Order free posters to place in various locations.

Learn more about these materials at www.cdc.gov/handwashing/materials.html. And learn all about handwashing at www.cdc.gov/handwashing/index.html.

Many of these materials are available in a variety of languages.

Red Spinach Variety Released

USDA Red, a true red spinach
Photo: USDA/ARS

Traditionally, spinach is the color green. There are some leafy greens called red spinach, but only the veins are red and they are not true spinach. Now, a true red spinach variety has been traditionally bred to give consumers a new outlook on spinach.

Since 2006, when an E. coli outbreak occurred, spinach consumption has dropped from 2.3 pounds per person to 1.6 pounds. Growers are hopeful this new color will bring consumers back.

The red color comes from betacyanin, a phytonutrient that has been shown to reduce oxidative stress in patients and could help prevent chronic disease, inflammation, and cancer.

Learn more at www.ars.usda.gov/news-events/news/research-news/2019/worlds-first-true-red-spinach-variety-released/.

Holiday Baking Webinar

It’s not just the raw eggs that cause food safety problems. All kinds of flour are raw and must be baked for safe consumption.

‘Tis the season! Time to bring out the mixing bowls and warm up the ovens for holiday baking.

To help you make your baked goods safe, the Partnership for Food Safety Education is hosting “Holiday Baking for BAC Fighters: Promoting Home Safe Handling of Ingredients” on Tuesday, November 19 at Noon to 1:00pm CST.

The webinar will cover risks of consuming unbaked (raw) ingredients, dough or batter and discuss recent foodborne illness outbreaks linked to raw flour. They will also share behavioral health messages and downloadable resources to promote safe baking practices at home.

Guest speakers are Donald Kautter, senior advisor/consumer safety officer with the FDA, and Sharon Davis, family and consumer sciences educator with the Home Baking Association.

Register online now!

What is Huitlacoche?

Simply put, corn smut. It is a corn disease caused by the fungus Ustilago maydis. It causes the formation of galls, or tumor-like growths on corn kernels. They range is size from 1/2 to 11 inches in diameter, have a black color and release a black inky material when ruptured.

While it may not sound or look pleasant, it is edible and is a delicacy in Mexico and Central America. It has a smoky, earthy flavor and is an excellent source of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals.

Some chefs are getting creative by using huitlacoche in foods from macaroni and cheese to ice cream!

Intrigued? Learn more at https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/articles/huitlacoche/.

Food Blogs and Canning Recipes

Look for food preservation resources at www.rrc.k-state.edu/preservation/index.html

Food bloggers have taken the internet by storm in many creative ways. But when it comes to home canning safety, these resources include methods that could lead to foodborne illness.

The University of Maine conducted a study of 56 blog posts from 43 food blogs on how to can salsa. They examined the adherence to several food safety factors including acidification, thermal processing, contaminants and vacuum sealing. They found a majority of these guidelines were not followed (an average of 70% across all categories). The biggest concern was lack of acidification (91%). Many did not provide guidance on adjusting for altitude.

Food bloggers are influencers. They have an opportunity to educate, while still entertain with good food, and more importantly, reduce the risk of foodborne illness!

Source: Food Protection Trends, Vol. 39, No. 5, p. 377-396

The Power of Food Colors

Consumers often eat with their eyes first, then their taste buds. This statement is even more true in today’s social media world as bright, colorful food is frequently shared and liked on many social media platforms.

In the U.S., consumers age 18-24 say social media pictures influences their food choices. On Instagram, 52% of users say they learn about new food trends. What drives these choices? Colorful food. Food product developers now test food colors for visual appeal on a smart phone camera and with other camera functions such as filters.

Food color additives are moving to natural sources. This is a challenges as colors from plants are not as stable as artificial color additives. Factors such as heat, acidity, storage conditions, light and others can degrade the color vibrancy.

Source: Food Technology, October 2019

Potential Method to Protect Flour

Always wash your hands and equipment after handling raw flour.

Flour has been linked to foodborne illness in recent years. It is a real problem. A company in Toronto, Canada might have a solution.

They have developed a nonthermal method to get a 99.9% microbial reduction in flour. The method, called Neo-Temper™, applies an organic liquid solution to the wheat kernels in the tempering phase of milling wheat into flour. This liquid destroys surface pathogens and gets into cracks and crevices of the kernels that can hide pathogens. The liquid biodegrades and the flour retains its nutritional content and its functionality.

This new process is currently in the process of validation in several North American milling companies.

Source: www.agri-neo.com/neo-temper/