You Asked It!

Category: July 2019

What is Alpha-gal Allergy?

Beef Kabobs
Photo: USDA Flickr

The next time you work outside or do outdoor recreation, be aware of ticks and protect yourself from tick bites. The Lone Star tick has been linked to causing allergic reactions after eating red meat.

The Lone Star tick is a vector that can spread disease. Mosquitos and fleas are other insects that spread disease. The Alpha-gal molecule is carried in the saliva of Lone Star ticks. People bit by this tick can become sensitive and produce the immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody. Unlike typical food allergies, which is a reaction to protein, this is a reaction to the carbohydrate galactose-α-1,3-galactose. This carbohydrate is found in most mammals, such as red meat animals. It can also be in products made from mammals. It is not found in poultry or fish.

Symptoms include rash, hives, difficulty breathing, drop in blood pressure, dizziness, fainting, nausea, and severe stomach pain. These symptoms can occur in 3-6 hours after eating red meat.

The Alpha-gal allergy can be severe, and potentially life-threatening. See a healthcare provider immediately for care.

Learn more at and


Electric Pressure Cookers Still Not Safe for Canning

The message continues. Do not use electric pressure cookers for canning. Research conducted at Utah State University shows that electric pressure cookers do not always reach or sustain safe temperature levels for safe canning. This is even more critical at higher altitudes.

Electric pressure cookers also have faster heat up and cool down time periods. This can affect heat transfer and pathogen destruction.

Learn more about Utah State University’s study at and from Food Safety News at


What is Hepatitis A?

A current recall of frozen blackberries is ongoing for possible Hepatitis A contamination.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from exposure to the Hepatitis A virus, including from food. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months. Illness generally occurs within 15 to 50 days of exposure and includes fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine and pale stool.

Hepatitis A vaccination can prevent illness if given within two weeks of exposure to a contaminated food. In rare cases, particularly consumers who have a pre-existing severe illness or are immune compromised, Hepatitis A infection can progress to liver failure. Persons who may have consumed affected product should consult with their health care professional or local health department to determine if a vaccination is appropriate, and consumers with symptoms of Hepatitis A should contact their health care professional.

Learn more at


Food Judging Reminders

County fair season is almost here! For those who judge foods and food preservation, take time to refresh your judging knowledge now.

Many resources and videos are available at One new addition for food judging is the issue of raw flour. This should not be an ingredient in no-bake products such as cookies. This includes any type of raw flour, including gluten free flour. This does not include oatmeal, cereal or chow mien noodles commonly used in no-bake cookies.

The Bread Sculpture contest is back! After a successful first year, this contest is being offered again. Learn more at


ALDI Flour Recall Linked to Eating Raw Dough

Photo: CDC

ALDI grocery stores recalled all purpose flour recently due to a multistate outbreak of E. coli O26 infections. As of May 24, 2019, 17 people have been infected across eight states. No deaths have been reported.

Investigation results have shown that of those interviewed, they reported eating, licking, or tasting raw dough or batter. DNA fingerprinting identified the flour as the source of the infection.

Symptoms of E. coli infection can appear in one to three days. But the time it takes to confirm that a person is a part of an outbreak can take two to three weeks.

Learn more at


What is Aquafaba?

There’s a hidden secret in that can of garbanzo beans! It’s aquafaba! The next time you open a can of garbanzo beans (a.k.a chickpeas) and drain the liquid, don’t pour that liquid down the drain. That liquid can mimic an egg white foam and be a good substitute for egg allergies or in vegan recipes.

The word aquafaba is Latin for water, aqua, and bean, faba. It is very new in the culinary world. The starch and protein makes it functional as a binding agent, thickener, and emulsifier. When whipped, and stabilized with cream of tartar, it looks like egg white foam. Some sources say the ability for aquafaba to create a foam can vary between different brands of garbanzo beans.

To use aquafaba, try these substitutions:

  • 3 tablespoons aquafaba = 1 whole egg
  • 2 tablespoons aquafaba = 1 egg white

Learn more at and

Photo courtesy Iowa State University Extension


Food Safety for School and Community Gardens

More and more gardens are popping up at schools and in communities. To help guide those who manage and work in these public gardens, a fact sheet and leaders guide have been updated and are now available.

The curriculum is called “Garden to Plate: Food Safety for School and Community Gardens.” Information includes site and soil selection, personal hygiene, water and irrigation, compost and fertilizers, pest and animal management, and harvesting and storage. The intended audience is consumers, school and community garden volunteers, and educators and teachers.

Leader’s Guide

Fact Sheet


National Festival of Breads—a Recap

The 2019 National Festival of Breads is in the books! It was a great event with eight great contestants, many fun and educational speakers, and much more.

This year, there were two divisions, one for home bakers and one for food bloggers. The home baker division winner was RaChelle Hubsmith with her Chai Ube Rosette Rolls. The food blogger division winner was Merry Graham with her Blackberry Ginger Speculaas Danish Wreath.

All eight recipes are now available at

Fire up your ovens and bake!

Many more recipes are available at


Freezing Foods for the Fair

To help save time and stress at county fairs, prepare food entries early and freeze them.  Most baked goods freeze well and can still be blue ribbon quality.  This includes cookies, yeast and quick breads, and cakes.  Here are some tips:

  • Bake the product as usual. Cool completely!  This helps prevent condensation inside the wrapping and development of ice crystals.
  • Use moisture-vapor resistant packaging. This includes freezer-safe plastic containers or bags, heavy-duty aluminum foil, and rigid containers.
  • Separate layers of cookies with wax paper or parchment paper.
  • If a cake or bread is to be frosted, freeze the product only and frost after it is thawed.
  • Make pie crusts ahead of time and freeze. Freezing whole prepared pies can cause the filling to soak into the crust.
  • Thaw all baked goods in the freezer packaging. They can be thawed at room temperature.  Remove from the freezer the night before the fair.  Once thawed, repackage into the proper packaging according to your fair rules.

Source:  Univ. of Georgia,


Temporary Food Stand Guidelines

Fair season is almost here!  Here are some reminders from the Kansas Department of Agriculture for serving food safely in food stands.

  • Food prepared in private home may not be used or offered
  • All equipment needed for the intended operation must be on hand
  • Food contact surfaces must be protected from contamination by consumers
  • There must be separate areas for taking money and preparing food.
  • Dishwashing must include washing, rinsing and sanitizing equipment.
  • A handwashing facility must be available with hot/warm water, soap, and paper towels.
  • Only one raw, potentially hazardous food that requires onsite preparation or cooking can be made or served.

For more information, go to