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.

Our Health and Food Behaviors During COVID-19

Healthfulness is a strong purchasing driver today compared to last 10 years.

As the saying goes, timing is everything. The 2020 International Food Information Council Food & Health Survey was conducted in April 2020, right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, that backdrop must be considered when looking at the results. Yes, consumer beliefs and actions have made a major shift. The question is, will those changes remain?

It’s not surprising that cooking at home is the biggest change for 8 in 10 Americans. Along with that, they are snacking more, washing fruits and vegetables more, and just giving more thought to food choices.

Going to the grocery store has decreased since consumers make fewer trips to the store each week.  Online grocery shopping has gone up.

Food safety concerns about food have increased and more than a third of consumers avoid some foods and beverages. Keep in mind, COVID-19 has not been found to spread through food or food packaging. Consumers are more concerned about food safety when grocery shopping online.

In spite of all the challenges with COVID-19, 67% of respondents are at least somewhat confident in the overall safety of the food supply.

Download the entire report at https://foodinsight.org/2020-food-and-health-survey/.

Online Grocery Delivery & Pickup Takes Off

A survey done by Brick Meets Click/ShopperKit was done in March 2020 and compared to August 2019 to assess online grocery delivery and pickup activity in the U.S. direct from grocery stores.

To say the least, most numbers are staggering.

  • Sales +233%
  • Average dollars spent +14%
  • Number of orders +192%
  • Number of active customers +146%
  • Average shopping frequency per shopper +19%

Source: Food Technology, May 2020

Improving Chicken Meat Quality

Just a reminder! Always use a thermometer to check doneness of all poultry. Look for 165°F.

Have you had a piece of chicken breast meat that was tough and chewy? This is a disorder called wooden breast syndrome that occurs in broiler chickens. The pectoral muscles, or breast meat, becomes tough and chewy. This syndrome can cause an economic toll on poultry producers.

When you look at a piece of chicken breast meat, you cannot see the problem. But, once the meat is cooked, the defect is noticeable. Researchers at the University of Delaware have possibly discovered the reason and a solution to reduce the problem.

In broilers, if they abnormally metabolize fat in the pectoral muscles, the syndrome develops. Ideally, the broilers should be metabolizing glucose instead of lipids. Therefore, the broiler has a higher amount of free radicals that damage pectoral muscles. By testing their blood for the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, they can identify the problem early for better management.

This is step forward in solving a difficult issue for poultry producers. Learn more at www.ift.org/iftnext/2020/june/solving-the-mystery-of-wooden-breast-syndrome.

Safe Recipe Contest

The Partnership for Food Safety Education is hosting a contest to develop safe recipes. It is called the “30-Minute Meals Safe Recipe Contest.” The contest opens June 23, 2020.

There will be four categories including youth ages 5-18, BAC Fighters, food bloggers/influencers, and retailers. Cash prizes will be given for each category. The grand prize winner will be featured in an online cookbook.

See the Safe Recipe Style Guide for instruction on how to make your favorite recipe a safe recipe! Look for more contest information on June 23, 2020 at www.fightbac.org/.

Eat Healthy, Be Active Community Workshops

Looking for a curriculum to teach healthy lifestyles and physical activity? The U.S. Department of Healthy and Human Services has developed six 1-hour workshops to help. The materials are available in English and Spanish.

The workshops include learning about healthy food choices, eating healthy on a budget, tips to lose weight, physical activity and more. Each section has an instructor guide and teaching videos.

The materials can be downloaded from https://bit.ly/37jsRaJ or you can order free copies at https://epublication.fda.gov/epub/, click the catalog button, then click these filters: Nutrition > Health educators > Orderable Hardcopies > Apply, and scroll down to Eat Healthy, Be Active Community Workshops.

The recording of the eXtension webinar describing this program is at https://bit.ly/2zu8D1K.

The Consequences of Foodborne Illness

Salmonella continues to be one of the top causes of foodborne illness in the U.S. each year.

We strive to prevent foodborne illness every day. Unfortunately, a single episode of foodborne illness can trigger an autoimmune illness in an estimated 200,000 consumers. The challenge is this could develop in days, weeks, or years after the actual foodborne illness event.

The organ systems that can be affected include the cardiovascular, endocrine, digestive, hepatic, immune, and respiratory systems. Other autoimmune illnesses include irritable bowel syndrome, reactive arthritis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome. With the unpredictable nature of all of these, medical professionals are finding it challenging to properly diagnose, control and treat these autoimmune illnesses. As a result, all of this also affects policies for public health to ensure a safe food supply.

The immune system is complex and strives to find and defend undesirable invaders. While most people recover from a foodborne illness with rest, fluids and care, the young, elderly, immunocompromised and pregnant and postpartum women are at high risk. Seeking medical attention early is important to reduce the risk of autoimmune illnesses.

Source: Food Technology, April 2020

 

Feed Your Mind

Somewhere I read or heard, a person will get educated if they truly want to be educated. One food related topic that falls into this statement is learning about genetically engineered foods, commonly referred to as GMOs. The FDA, along with the USDA and EPA, have launched a science-based initiative to address GMOs called “Feed Your Mind.”

GMO foods have been available for many years, but many consumers are still confused about what they are and how they are used in our food supply. Educational materials are being developed for dietitians and high school science curriculums to be released later in 2020 into 2021.

Information on the Feed Your Mind website is also available in Spanish.

Updated USDA Websites

The USDA Food and Nutrition Information Center and the USDA Nutrition.gov websites have received a makeover!

FNIC strives to serve the professional community (including educators, health professionals and researchers) by providing access to a wide range of trustworthy food and nutrition resources from both government and non-government sources. The FNIC website provides information about food and human nutrition.

Nutrition.gov serves as a gateway to reliable information on nutrition, healthy eating, physical activity, and food safety for consumers. The site is updated on an ongoing basis by a staff of Registered Dietitians at the Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) located at the National Agricultural Library (NAL), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The recording of this eXtension webinar discussing these websites is at https://bit.ly/2zu8D1K.

Many free materials and handouts can be found at www.nutrition.gov/topics/basic-nutrition/printable-materials-and-handouts

Cherry Time!

In Kansas, cherries are in season during June and July.

Whether you like them sweet, sour, golden or red, cherries are in season! Their short season means you must enjoy them as much as you can now. But wait! They can also be preserved to save them for a later date.

Cherries can be preserved by canning, freezing, dehydrating, or made into canned pie filling, jam, jelly. The uses of fresh cherries are endless in many meals or just a simple snack.

Freezing is easy. Simply wash, remove stems and pits. Dry and spread on a tray in a single layer to freeze. Then place them in freezer containers. Cherries can also be frozen in a syrup or sugar pack.

If making canned pie filling, use sour cherries for that classic pie flavor. Use Clear Jel® starch (cook type) for best results.

Learn more about preserving cherries at https://bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF1180.pdf. To dehydrate cherries, see https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/dry/csu_dry_fruits.pdf.

What is Pinsa?

Pinsa is an oblong flatbread pizza that was created in Rome by Corrado Di Marco in 2001. The crust is a made from a blend of wheat flour, rice flour, and soy flour. The wheat flour provides the gluten structure. The rice flour gives a lighter texture. The soy flour adds flavor, protein, and some chewiness.

The Pinsa can be baked in the oven or on a grill. The word Pinsa has a Latin origin meaning “to stretch or to beat or press.” This refers to stretching the dough to fill you up with only a few ingredients.

A Pinsa crust is crispy, light and airy. Toppings can be any favorite combination you prefer. A simple combination includes pesto, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Or make a dessert with fresh peaches, honey and walnuts.

Learn more at www.ice.edu/blog/roman-pizza-pinsa and www.finecooking.com/article/how-to-make-pinsa.