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Tag: Food Safety

Let’s Talk Thermometers

Check whole poultry temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and thickets part of the breast.

There are a variety of thermometers to use for cooking. And they are not just for checking meat doneness. They can be use to check temperature of baked goods, stages of candy cooking, and more. They can also help with making good quality food.

There are choices. Here are a few.

  • Dial Oven-Safe. It can be left in the food while cooking large foods like whole poultry and roasts. Place in the thickest part of the food.
  • Digital Instant-Read. Good for thin foods and gives quick results. Insert at least ½-inch deep into the food. Not oven-safe.
  • Dial Instant-Read. Good for larger foods and soups. Reads in about 15-20 seconds. Place 2-2½” deep into thickest part of the food. Insert sideways into thinner foods. Not oven-safe.
  • Pop-Up. These are in whole turkeys or chickens. They are made of food safe nylon and are reliable within 1-2°F. Always double check doneness with a conventional thermometer in the innermost part of the thigh and thickest part of the breast.
  • Digital Oven Probe with Cord. These can be used in most foods and is oven safe. The base unit sits on the stovetop or counter.

Learn more at


Can Two Turkeys Be Roasted in One Oven?

The cooking time is determined by the weight of one bird—not the combined weight. Use the weight of the smaller bird to determine cooking time.  Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the smaller bird first and then check the second bird. A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.  Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.  When cooking two turkeys at the same time make sure there is enough oven space for proper heat circulation.



Arsenic and Rice Safety

Yes, there is arsenic in rice. While that sounds scary, know that it is also found in many other foods.

Arsenic is in the soil, air and water and as crops grow, they absorb arsenic along with other nutrients. That is how it gets into food and it cannot be completely eliminated. Rice is a unique crop in that it grows in water. Arsenic has two chemical forms, organic and inorganic with the latter being of greater concern.

Rice is a food staple in many countries and is a common “first food” for infants. Based on infant body weight, they consume about three times more rice than adults. There are concerns about inorganic arsenic causing potential developmental problems and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

The FDA recommends feeding babies iron-fortified cereal, usually infant rice. They also recommend feeding a variety of infant cereals including oat, barley and multigrain.

Always consult with your healthcare provider for more information.

For more information, see and


Food Safety for Holiday Meals

The holiday season is the time to share good times with family and friends. It is not the time to share foodborne illness!

While food safety is important every day of the year, extra emphasis is given during the holidays because of large gatherings and lots of food being served.

Many resources on holiday food safety can be found at This includes giving food to food pantries and mailing food to family and friends. Quantity cooking resources can be found at


Don’t wash any poultry or meat!


Washing Poultry Not Worth the Risk

The practice of washing or rinsing raw poultry can actually put you and others at a higher risk of foodborne illness. Quite simply, there’s no need to do this.

Participants in an observational study were observed in handling and preparation practices to see how bacteria moves from raw foods to other foods or surfaces. They were divided into a control group and a treatment group. Food safety messages were sent via email prior to observation sessions to learn how effective those messages were in preparing chicken.

Some reasons consumers feel rinsing raw poultry is necessary is to remove blood/slime, because a family member said to do so, or it washes off the germs or bacteria. Most do this under the faucet with water running without any other container. Because of this, water splashes onto other items or food causing cross contamination. Then, many improperly washed their hands by not using water or soap, or did not rub their hands with soap at least 20 seconds. They also were ineffective at cleaning and sanitizing equipment and countertops.

Bottom line. There is no need to wash poultry or meat prior to cooking. Cooking to safe temperatures is the best and safest defense against foodborne illness. All poultry should reach 165°F; ground meat should reach 160°F; and roasts, steak and chops should reach 145°F.

The final report of this study can be found at


Sesame Allergy: A Growing Concern

Sesame seeds range in color from white to black. This bread has white and black sesame seeds.

Those little seeds on top of hamburger buns look good, but to some people they are a health hazard. An estimated 1.5 million Americans have a sesame allergy. Should it be the ninth most common food allergy?

Sesame is found not only on top of buns but in many Asian dishes and in hummus made with tahini paste. Allergic symptoms include mild skin irritations and hives to anaphylactic reactions. Currently, the FDA does not require it on food labels. One state, Illinois, has made it a requirement. Other countries such as Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan require sesame allergen labeling. It may be in the near future for the U.S.

If you suspect you are allergic to sesame, take steps to find out for sure. See a board-certified allergist for diagnosis. Read food labels, all of them! Keep a food log to track what you eat. This is very helpful when seeing a doctor.

For more information and list of foods that may contain sesame, see


What’s in Your Refrigerator?

What triggers your decision to toss a food in the refrigerator? Or how do you decide to keep a certain food? Little research has been done to learn about the contents and management of home refrigerators. This appliance is key in managing food waste.

Research was conducted by The Ohio State University and Louisiana State University. Consumers were asked about how they decide to discard or keep food. A majority used odor, looks safe to eat, or passed date on package as deciding factors. Those who cleaned their refrigerator regularly often wasted more food, and in many cases could keep some of those foods.

There continues to be a lot of confusion about what date labels mean in reference to ‘use by’,  ‘best by’ and others. There is a proposal in U.S. Congress to simplify labels to “best if used by” which translates to “follow your nose” and “use by” which would mean “toss it.”

Learn more about this study and on food waste at


Choose the Right Jar

Photo: USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning

A variety of jar sizes are available to use in canning. Reliable recipes sources will indicate what size of jars are to be used for that recipe. But can you use a jar not listed for that recipe? Yes and no.

Standard jar sizes include half pint (8-oz.), pint (16-oz.), and quart (32-oz.). There are also in-between sizes such as 4-oz., 12-oz., 24-oz., and 28 oz.

When a recipe lists half pint only, you cannot use a larger jar. This is because the larger jar may require a longer processing time which must be tested and verified to ensure safety. Guessing, by the home food preserver, can lead to spoiled food. If a recipe indicates half-pint AND pint, you can use a 12-oz. jar, but you cannot use any jar larger than a pint. For jams and jellies, 4-oz. jars are a good option. Use 4 oz. jars like half-pints; 12-oz. jars like pints; and 24-oz. and 28-oz. jars like quarts.

Just because your family uses a certain food in larger quantities, does not mean you can preserve in larger jars. Be smart, be safe!

A guide to what foods a best preserved in the various sizes of jars, see the Jar Guide at


Food Tampering is No Joke

Food tampering is punishable by law. Be a smart shopper and report any issues.

If you see something, say something. That statement holds true for many situations, including food tampering. We live in a world that causes us to be more cautious in our daily routines.

In this buyer beware world, here are some tips when grocery shopping.

  • Carefully examine all food product packaging. Be aware of the normal appearance of food containers. That way you’ll be more likely to notice if an outer seal or wrapper is missing. Compare a suspect container with others on the shelf.
  • Check any anti-tampering devices on packaging. Make sure the plastic seal around the outside of a container is intact or that the safety button on the lid of a jar is down.
  • Don’t purchase products if the packaging is open, torn, or damaged. This includes products on the shelf or in the refrigerator or freezer sections of the grocery store.
  • Don’t buy products that are damaged or that look unusual. For example, never purchase canned goods that are leaking or that bulge at the ends. Likewise for products that appear to have been thawed and then refrozen.

In Kansas, report any food problems at



September is Food Safety Education Month

Food safety is important every day. But in September, the focus on food safety is brought to the forefront to help all consumers prepare, serve and eat food safely.

Current resources for this promotion are typically found at the links below. Look for updates in the coming days.