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Category: April 2020

Coronavirus and Food Safety

Wash hands for 20 seconds

A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

Can a person become sick with COVD-19 from food? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods.”

Handwashing is important in every day life. This includes:

  • Food preparation and eating
  • Caring for someone who is sick
  • After using the bathroom or changing a diaper
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • Touching animals, pet waste, pet food
  • After handling garbage.

Hand sanitizers can be effective, but not if your hands are visibly dirty. Learn more at



What’s New with the Nutrition Facts Label

Have you noticed the change? The Nutrition Facts Label has had its first major update in over 20 years. The goal is to help consumers make informed food choices for lifelong healthy eating habits.

The serving size is now in a larger, bold font. Some serving sizes have been updated to reflect what people typically eat and drink today. The serving size is not a recommendation of how much to eat.

Calories are in a larger, bolder font so they are easy to find.

Daily values (%DV) have been updated. A 5% or below DV is considered low. A 20% DV or more is considered high.

The nutrient list has been updated to remove calories from fat and vitamins A and C. Grams of added sugars has been added because consuming too much added sugars takes away other nutrient needs. Vitamin D and potassium were added because most people do not get enough.

Learn more at


Olive Oil Shopping Tips

Good quality olive oil can fit any food budget. Your local grocery store, discount stores, or online sources offer reasonable prices.

Keep in mind three tips as you shop for olive oil. First, look for a dark bottle or a can. Light breaks down oil and decreases shelf life. Buy a size that fits your usage needs.

Second, choose extra virgin olive oil for the highest quality.

Third, look for a best-by date. Once the container is opened, air will impact shelf life. Use within 30-60 days.

If you store olive oil on the countertop, use a dark bottle to minimize exposure to light.


New Ball® Fermentation Kit

Photo @ 2019 Newell Brands Inc.

If you are thinking about trying food fermentation, the new Ball® Fermentation Kit can help you succeed. This kit is an all-in-one solution to help the beginner or experienced fermenter.

The kit includes one wide mouth quart jar, one fermentation lid with a vent to keep oxygen out of the jar, one stainless steel spring to keep the food submerged under the brine during fermentation, pickling salt, and a step-by-step recipe book. Start with fresh ingredients. Do not alter ingredient proportions or fermentation time.

Recipe ideas for this kit can be found at All recipes are stored in the refrigerator up to six months.


Critical Factors in Home Canning

A wireless data recorder is placed inside a filled jar of food to monitor temperature and the cold spot.

The importance of following tested recipes and safe processing methods for canning food safely depends on several factors. They include:

  • pH or acid content of the food. The 12-24 hours post-processing must show pH equilibrates and must not change after that time.
  • Heat penetration rate at the cold spot inside the jar. This is depends on how the food heats, whether by convection or conduction, the size of jar, food consistency, and the amount of headspace.
  • Initial pack temperature is the temperature of the food going into the jars. This temperature can change 30-40°F depending on number of jars and fill efficiency.
  • Soluble solids (°Brix) content includes the amount of sugar in the food solution. It is measured with a refractometer. The higher the °Brix, the less water available for bacteria to grow.
  • Water activity measures the amount of water available for bacterial growth.

Source: Newell Brands, Inc.


More New Items from Ball®

Photo: @2019 Newell Brands Inc.

More new items will be on store shelves this year for canning, freezing a storage.

A new pint jar, called a Flute, can be used for canning, gifting, crafting, and drinking beverages. They have a regular mouth size with a wider bottom. The four jar pack includes lids and rings, the six pack is jars only to use as drinking glasses.

New Freezer Jars are plastic containers that are square in shape with rounded corners. They will be in 8 oz. and 16 oz. sizes. The lid is airtight and they stack easily to save space.

Source: Newell Brands, Inc.


Easter Ham Safety Reminders

Spiral cut ham. Photo: USDA Flickr

Whether you are cooking a raw ham or preparing a ready-to eat ham product, follow these steps for a ham that is cooked to perfection.

  • Ham that is not ready-to-eat but has the appearance of ready-to-eat products will bear a statement on the label indicating the product needs cooking.
  • Ham that requires cooking before consumption or fresh, raw ham must reach an internal temperature of 145°F (with a three-minute rest time). Set the oven no lower than 325°F.
  • Cooked canned ham and cooked vacuum-packaged ham, both from federally inspected plants, can be eaten right out of the package. All of these along with spiral-cut cooked ham are safe to eat cold or can be warmed to an internal temperature of 145°F, as they are already fully cooked. For cooked hams that have been repackaged in any other location outside the processing plant, heat to an internal temperature of 165°F, measured with a food thermometer, before you serve it.

For more information on ham and food safety, see


Reasons for Canning/Seal Failures

When screw bands are too tight, the lid will likely buckle causing seal failure.

Canning food at home is a great way to preserve fresh food and reduce food waste. But, if problems occur, that food is wasted. Of all reported canning failures, 99% are due to user error. Here are the most common reasons:

  • Following old or unsafe recipes
  • Using untested recipes
  • Using old, unsafe family canning methods
  • Using the wrong jar size
  • Using improper processing methods for the food being preserved
  • Storing the canned food in the wrong type of location such as the garage, shed, crawl space, etc.
  • Adjusting the screw band too tightly
  • Not adjusting for altitude

Source:  Newell Brands Inc., owners of Ball and Kerr products