Safe food handling doesn’t stop at the grocery store. It is equally or more important to handle food safety at home!
Shopping, storing, preparing, cooking, serving, and handling leftovers all have risks for food safety issues. Handwashing, temperature control, and other key steps help reduce risks of foodborne illness.
Eggs are very nutritious and versatile. But, they also bring a food safety risk due to Salmonella contamination. This risk can occur inside the egg and on the egg shell.
If a chicken is infected with Salmonella, it can contaminate the egg when it is formed inside the chicken. Farmers, big and small, must be vigilant to identify infected chickens and separate them from the rest of the flock. Chickens are messy, and they can pick up pathogens anywhere in their environment. Keeping coops clean is important.
Eggs are refrigerated for safety. If temperature abuse happens, that causes the egg to sweat and the porous shell will pull any contamination from outside the shell into the egg interior through osmosis.
In some locations, consumers are demanding cage-free egg production. This type of production only removes the cages. The chickens are still under one roof. The debate is ongoing whether this will be an advantage to make eggs safer.
Did you know that of the total waste that ends up in landfills, 21 percent is food waste? Because of this, food is the primary contributor to total U.S. methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas, that comes from landfills.
So what do you do to reduce food waste? What does your community do to reduce food waste?
The challenge to reduce food waste starts with every consumer. Start by buying only the groceries you need. Making a weekly menu plan and creating a shopping list can help.
Store foods properly. Do you have a thermometer in your refrigerator or freezer? This can help you monitor your appliance and can help determine food safety if the power goes out. Keep foods covered to prevent cross-contamination and reduced food quality.
You…yes YOU…are in control of safely handling and preparing food in your home. The home is the final stop in the farm-to-table continuum. So be proactive and take charge of your food!
The publication At-Home Safe Food Handling: It’s in Your Hands (MF2465)has been updated to help you safely prepare and handle food. It covers the topics of shopping, storing, preparing, cooking, serving, and leftovers. It includes storage charts and cooking temperature guidelines.
Use this to help you safely prepare and serve food to your family.
Most instances of foodborne illness can be prevented by using safe food handling practices at home.
Since 2011, more than 20 foodborne illness outbreaks have occurred from North American produce. The foods involved were cantaloupe, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, frozen vegetables and others. In 2018 alone, romaine lettuce has been linked to two large recalls. This is costly not only in illnesses and unfortunate deaths, but complete disruption in the supply chain.
Produce safety is an ongoing challenge. Safe potable water is critical for growing produce, but also in harvest and processing. If water is high in mineral deposits, it can cause pathogen survival. Soil residue also impacts cleanliness and sanitation.
Water temperature will change the sanitizer stability and efficacy. If water is too cold, the sanitizer will not work properly. If water is too hot, sanitizers can vaporize and release toxic gases. Produce quality can also be affected which can reduce shelf life. The acidity or pH of water must also be monitored.
Contact time of sanitizers and disinfectants will dictate the effectiveness. If left on too long, off flavors will linger and can become a chemical hazard.
The produce surface texture can trap bacteria or make them difficult to remove soil and debris. Bruises and other damage also lead to ineffective cleaning.
Food recalls happen almost daily and many do not get a lot of publicity. In a majority of recalls, it is the manufacturer that issues a voluntary recall.
Manufacturers will work with the FDA or USDA to help determine the reason for the recall and to fix the issue. If foodborne illnesses have occurred, the CDC and state health departments will also be involved.
As consumers, it is important to pay attention to recalls to eliminate the chance of getting sick. Recall announcements give specific information about the food recall including the type of food, brand, package size, date codes, manufacturer codes, shelf life dates, distribution locations, and other pertinent information.
If you have a recalled food, take it back to where it was purchased for a refund, or throw it away. Do not take the chance of eating it or feeding it to animals.
The star beverage for many holiday parties is egg nog. This is a drink that dates back to the 13th century and there are many variations.
To reduce the chance of giving the gift of foodborne illness, make a cooked egg base. This is done by mixing the eggs and half the milk and gently heat to an internal temperature of 160°F. The mixture should coat a metal spoon. Remove from heat and chill the base before adding other ingredients. Then, say cheers for a safe holiday treat!