The U.S. has an abundant supply of food to feed all people, but much of it is wasted. Now is the time to change!
Food waste is a top priority for the top U.S. government organizations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This collaboration has announced six key priorities which include:
Enhance interagency coordination
Increase consumer education and outreach efforts
Improve coordination and guidance on food loss and waste measurement
Clarify and communicate information on food safety, food date labels, and food donations
Collaborate with private industry to reduce food loss and waste across the supply chain
Encourage food waste reduction by Federal Agencies in their respective facilities
What will you do in your communities to get the conversation, education, and champion in reducing food waste? Tossed food reduces economic growth, reduced community health, and damages the environment.
Rice is used in a variety of ways in many meals. But it, like other grains, must be handled safely to prevent foodborne illness. Some may say leftover rice should never be reheated or to not even eat cold cooked rice. Let’s look at this issue.
Grains in general can carry Bacillus cereus spores. Like all spores, they can survive cooking temperatures. Therefore, temperature abuse can lead to foodborne illness especially if not properly cooled. Improper cooling can allow spores to germinate, produce toxin, and then foodborne illness occurs.
We’ve all heard of the Temperature Danger Zone! Serve rice hot and cool leftovers quickly. Place in shallow containers for faster cooling. If serving leftover rice hot, reheat until piping hot, at least 165°F. Rice can also be served cold in foods such as a vegetable salad.
To help educate consumers on food product dating, the USDA has updated their fact sheet on this topic.
Links within the fact sheet include information on shelf-stable foods and adding “Freeze By” date information to freeze a food and maintain quality. The commonly used phrases are “Best if Used By/Before”, “Sell By”, “Use By”, and “Freeze By”. The only one that is critical to safety is “Use By” for infant formula. Otherwise, the dates are for best quality.
More information is included on food donation and reducing food waste. This helps food companies donate food that may be misbranded or economically adulterated, but are still safe to consume.
New research shows that eating nutritious food can reduce mortality rates. This research was conducted by the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. They collected data from over 27,000 adults ages 20 and older.
When comparing consumption of nutritious food versus dietary supplements, there is evidence that getting certain nutrients from food reduces rates of all-cause mortality. Dietary supplements do not show any reduction. They found the following:
Lower risk of death from eating foods with adequate vitamin K and magnesium;
Lower risk of cardiovascular disease from foods with adequate vitamin K, vitamin A, and zinc;
Higher rates of death from cancer when more than 1,000 mg/day Calcium were consumed from supplements.
Consumer behavior studies reveal telling insights into what food preparation methods they use. In a recent study, consumers were observed preparing turkey burgers and a chef’s salad to see what steps they did during meal preparation.
When preparing the turkey burgers, almost 50% of the participants handled spice containers without washing their hands after handling raw turkey. This observation was unexpected. Previous observation studies did not sample spice containers for contamination. Also, if spice containers are not stored inside cabinets, those containers could be contaminated more easily.
What to do? Plan ahead. Measure out spices before handling raw meat so they are ready to use. If containers are handled with dirty hands, clean the containers before putting them back in storage.
Originally from Ancient Asia, kombucha is now a modern beverage. While many cite a variety of health claims, the clinical science to back those claims is lacking. Excess consumption can lead to chemical acidosis.
Kombucha is a fizzy, cider-like beverage made from fermented sweet tea. A starter culture, called SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast), is the key to fermentation and looks like a jelly pancake in the kombucha liquid. The SCOBY is affected by climate, geography, culture, and wild microorganisms making each batch of kombucha unique.
When making kombucha at home, care must be taken to use safe, hygienic practices to keep a clean environment and minimize contamination. In general, kombucha is considered non-alcoholic. But if the alcohol level exceeds 0.5 percent alcohol by volume, then the sugar or yeast concentration is too high or it was fermented too long. In general, home fermentation is around three days.
Pregnant women or those with immune-compromised health conditions should not consume kombucha. Improperly made kombucha can contain pathogens or have unsafe concentrations of organic acids.