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Category: September 2016

Handling the Dough Safely

Always wash your hands after handling any type of raw dough.
Always wash your hands after handling any type of raw dough.

A recent recall of flour has prompted concerns about eating raw dough products such as raw cookie dough, raw bread dough, and homemade craft dough. Any type of flour is a raw food product. At least one person has been sickened with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) due to eating raw pizza dough a restaurant gave to the consumer. HUS develops from E. coli contamination and can be deadly. Here is advise to consumers:

  • Flour or raw eggs used to make raw dough or batter might be contaminated.
  • Bake items made with raw dough or batter before eating them. Follow the recipe or instructions on the package.
  • Do not taste raw dough or batter. Even tasting a small amount could make you sick.
  • Wash any bowls, utensils, and other surfaces that were used when baking with hot water and soap.
  • Wash your hands with water and soap after handling dough or batter.
  • Restaurants should not give customers raw dough to play with or eat.

For more information, see


Is “Cooler Corn” Safe to Eat?

Sweet CornIt sounds like an easy way to cook corn for a crowd. But it could be risky to make “cooler corn.”

The method is described as washing the cooler with soap and water. Place peeled corn in the cooler and pour boiling water completely over the corn. Close the lid and let stand 30 Minutes. Then, eat at your own risk!

Coolers are not designed to be used for cooking. Boiling water can damage the plastic. Coolers can also harbor millions of germs from other foods such as raw meat.

The best advice is to cook corn in a large stock pot for the safest results.



Food Safety Education Month


The theme for the 2016 National Food Safety Education Month (NFSEM) is “Notorious Virus!” and is sponsored by the National Restaurant Association and ServSafe®.

Activities, videos, and other educational tools are available to help educate food service personnel about Norovirus and Hepatitis A. While targeted to food service, these materials can apply to anyone to help teach safe food handling.

Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis. It spreads easily and is often called the stomach flu. It transmits easily as it survives on surfaces that have been contaminated or from an infected person.

Handwashing is the best defense against Norovirus. Clean and disinfect areas contaminated by vomiting or diarrhea. If sick, do not handle food.

For more about NFSEM, see

NFSEM materials from USDA are not currently available.




Prepare Kansas!

Prepare Kansas!
Prepare Kansas!

2016 marks the third annual Prepare Kansas online challenge during the month of September. This year’s theme is food safety. Weekly themes related to food safety will include:

  • What can I do ahead of a power outage?—keeping food safe in an emergency by putting a thermometer in each refrigerator and freezer unit, and foods to have on hand by building an emergency food kit.
  • What can I do as a power outage happens?—finding out where to buy ice/dry ice and supplies; practice using up old emergency food as if in an emergency; and gather items to have ready for an emergency.
  • What can I do after a power outage?—safe food storage in the refrigerator and freezer; how to make a claim for lost food on your homeowner’s insurance policy.
  • What can I do after a flood?—what to do with food in contact with flood water; handwashing after coming into contact with flood water.

For more information, contact Londa Nwadike,; Elizabeth Kiss,; or Jamie Rathbun,

Warm Up with Waffles!

The first week of September is designated as Waffle Week! Enjoy healthy and delicious waffles by including:

  • Fresh fruit on top such as blueberries and strawberries
  • A whole grain waffle mix, or substituting whole wheat flour for half of the flour in your recipe.
  • A limit on the number or size of waffles you eat.

If you’re preparing several foods that get “done” at different times, you can hold most hot foods for about 15 to 20 minutes in a preheated oven set to 200 to 250 degrees F. Place waffles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent sogginess.

Freeze leftover waffles for a quick breakfast by popping them in the toaster.

Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension



Prepping Vegetables for Freezing

Enzymes are a natural component of food. They work inside food and can change flavor, texture, color and nutrition. Blanching stops enzymes and protects the food from quality changes.
Enzymes are a natural component of food. They work inside food and can change flavor, texture, color and nutrition. Blanching stops enzymes and protects the food from quality changes.

Most vegetables need to be blanched before freezing to inactivate enzymes and protect their quality. This is done by water or steam blanching. Can blanching be done in the microwave?

Using the microwave may produce poor results. Due to uneven heating, the microwave may not completely inactivate enzymes. This results in off flavors, poor texture and loss of color. The microwave does not save time or energy.

For best results, use water or steam blanching. Learn more about freezing at



To Double Dip or Not!

One chip per dip please!
One chip per dip please!

We’ve all seen it happen. You’re at a party and people are gathering around the snacks and someone double dips a chip in the dip. Is it really that bad? According to a study by Clemson University, possibly.

Researchers found that bacterial counts increased significantly after a person dipped a chip, ate it, then dipped the same chip again. Salsa dips had more bacteria compared to chocolate or cheese dips. As a control, they dipped bitten chips into water and found similar bacterial counts.

If a person is already sick, double dipping could spread disease such as the flu or whooping cough. For most people, the risk may not be great to double dip. In fact, sneezing or coughing onto food or not washing your hands poses a much greater risk of becoming ill.




Preserving Pumpkin Safely

PumpkinsPumpkins offer far more than a door-stop at Halloween. Think safety when planning to preserve pumpkins. Pumpkin is a low acid vegetable and requires special attention to preparation and processing.

Home canning is not recommended for pumpkin butter or any mashed or pureed pumpkin or winter squash. In 1989, the USDA’s Extension Service first published the Complete Guide to Home Canning that remains the basis of Extension recommendations today, found in the 2015 revision. The only directions for canning pumpkin and winter squash are for cubed flesh. In fact, the directions for preparing the product include the statement, “Caution: Do not mash or puree.

The best way to preserve mashed pumpkin or winter squash is freezing. For more tips on preserving pumpkin, including freezing, drying and pickling, see


Backyard Poultry Safety

Baby chicksMore people are choosing to raise poultry, such as chickens or ducks, as part of a greener, healthier lifestyle. However, it’s important to consider the risk of illness, especially for children, from handling live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.

It’s common for chickens, ducks, and other poultry to carry Salmonella, a type of germ that naturally lives in the intestines of poultry and many other animals. Even organically fed poultry can have Salmonella. While it usually doesn’t make the birds sick, Salmonella can cause serious illness when it is passed to people.

Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.