Posts Tagged ‘food safety’

a plate of food scraps arranged to spell "love food hate waste"

Did you know that food waste takes up more space in our landfills than anything else? According to the 2018 Wasted Food Report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food waste accounts for 24% –almost a quarter – of all municipal solid waste sent to landfills. The majority of this food waste comes from consumers and households. As such, the EPA has created a Food Recovery Hierarchy to prioritize strategies to reduce food waste. This hierarchy follows the 3 Rs of solid waste reduction: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Source reduction, or reducing the volume of surplus food generated, is the most preferred strategy, followed by feeding hungry people, feeding animals, using food for industrial purposes (all ways to reuse food), and composting (recycling). Sending food to the landfill or to be incinerated is the least preferred waste reduction strategy.

So, what can you as a consumer do to reduce the amount of surplus food you generate?

  • Shop your fridge first and use the ingredients you have on hand before they spoil.
  • Plan your meals and shop using a list of needed ingredients to avoid buying excess.
  • Learn how to read food labels and don’t misinterpret expiration dates on food that is perfectly good to eat.
  • Store food properly, keeping your refrigerator at or below 40 degrees F and your freezer at or below 0 degrees F. Make sure to chill perishable foods and leftovers properly by refrigerating or freezing them within 2 hours of being out at room temperature, and consume them within days. Store fruits and vegetables separately in moisture-proof bags and wash them just prior to use. Know which fruits and vegetables to store in the refrigerator and which ones to leave out.
  • Use an app like the USDA’s Food Keeper to help keep track of what is in your fridge and when it needs to be used.

To learn more about food waste, test your knowledge with this quiz from the Save More than Food campaign or watch this video featuring Ohio State University Professor Brian Roe. 

Written by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County.

Reviewed by Laura Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension, Warren County.


Werling, R. & Nwadike, L. (2020). Working Together to Reduce Food Waste. Kansas State University. https://bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF3482.pdf

United States Environmental Protection Agency (2022). Sustainable Management of Food. https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food

United States Environmental Protection Agency (2020). 2018 Wasted Food Report. https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2020-11/documents/2018_wasted_food_report.pdf

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The days are getting warmer and after being cooped up for so long, I am excited to get outside and enjoy delicious food on the grill.

Grilling is a healthy cooking option and isn’t just for meats. Grilled veggies are a family favorite and are perfect foil wrapped or in a grilling basket. Regardless of what you put on the grill, it is important to keep it food safe. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Food safety starts at the grocery store. Especially on warm days (70 degrees and above), remember to take a cooler with you to keep meats cold on the way home. Keep the cooler in the passenger area of the car as it is air conditioned and will not be as hot as the trunk.
  2. Store meats in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to use them. If you plan to grill a frozen product, plan ahead and thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or defrost it in the microwave just prior to grilling. Never thaw frozen meat on the counter.
  3. Be mindful of marinades. If you intend to keep the marinade for later use, be careful not to contaminate your marinade by touching the utensil to the meat and then placing it back into the marinade container. If you plan to use the marinade you have applied to the meat as a dipping sauce or topping, it must be heated to a boil.
  4. Use a thermometer to check that meats are done. Foodsafety.gov provides a list of minimum internal cooking temperatures for a wide variety of foods.
  5. Use a clean plate for cooked items; never use the same plate for raw and cooked products.
  6. Remember to use separate cutting boards for raw meats and items that will not be cooked. For example, prepare your hamburger patties on one cutting board and your sliced tomatoes and onions for on your hamburgers on another cutting board. If you only have one cutting board, make sure to wash, rinse, and sanitize the cutting board after working with meats and before preparing ready to eat items.

For more information about grilling safely, visit the Partnership for Food Safety Education. Enjoy safe and delicious food every time you grill!

Writer: Christine Kendle, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Tuscarawas County, kendle.4@osu.edu

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu


Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Four Steps to Food Safety. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/keep-food-safe.html. Accessed April 20, 2023

Partnership for Food Safety Education. Grill Master. https://www.fightbac.org/grill-master/. Accessed April 20, 2023.

US Department of Health and Human Services. Minimum Internal Cooking Chart. https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/safe-minimum-internal-temperatures. Accessed April 20, 2023.

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Let’s examine food safety during a power outage.

Boy oh Boy, has spring packed a punch! Here in Northeastern Ohio we have experienced many power outages already. Some communities have spent only a few minutes in the dark while others find themselves looking for glimmers of light after two or more days.

Picture this, the power is restored, hallelujah! You can finally make that fresh pot of coffee. You reach into the fridge with hopes of topping it off with a hint of cream or milk. Suddenly you wonder, “how long is too long? how room temperature is too room temperature?”

When it comes to food safety we have many kinds of opinions. Some of these opinions are based on who raised us or how we were raised. Either way, sometimes we find ourselves with lots of different advice about what to do with food. So, let’s talk about some important food safety measures to keep in mind when things do go dark and how to know, “how long is too long”.

Have a plan.

If you are expecting severe weather it never hurts to be prepared. Today, many refrigerators and freezers have digital internal thermometers. This is so convenient when we have power. The FDA suggests having thermometers on hand to place in your appliance when the possibility of a power outage is present. Refrigerators should be maintained at 40 ° F or less and freezers at 0° F or less.

Keep your appliance closed once the power goes out. If kept closed, refrigerators can stay cold for up to 4 hours.

Keep freezer packs or frozen containers of water in your appliance. This can help maintain cool temperatures. A full freezer will keep temperature for up to 48 hours; half full maintains for about 24 hours.

When the power is restored, determine what to safely keep.

The FDA shares a few bits of advice for us:

  1. If the thermometer placed in the freezer reads a temperature of 40° F or less or the food contains ice crystals, then you can safely refreeze the items.
  2. If there was no thermometer, check packages visually to try to determine if they are safe for consumption or if you can refreeze them. Use your senses to observe the odor and appearance of the product. Does the food smell foul or sour? Does it appear slimy, bubbly, or off color? Smell and appearance are not always good indicators of food spoilage, so remember what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “when in doubt, throw it out”.
  3. If the power has been out for 4 hours or less, as long as the refrigerator has stayed shut, food should be safe. Toss any perishable food items that have not been properly stored while the power was out. Perishable food includes meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, milk, or leftovers.
  4. Foods that have been above 40° F for 4 hours or more need to be thrown out. Perishable foods with temperatures that are 45°F or below (measured with a food thermometer) should be safe, but should be cooked and consumed as soon as possible.

After a power outage never taste food to test for safety. Perishable food items that have not been kept at adequate temperatures may cause food borne illnesses.

Click the link below to learn more about what to toss and what to keep:


Author: Holly Bandy, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Stark County

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County


U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2023). Food and Water Safety During Power Outages and Floods. https://www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/food-and-water-safety-during-power-outages-and-floods

FoodSafety.gov (2021). Refrigerated Food and Power Outages: When to Save It and When to Throw It Out. https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/food-safety-during-power-outage

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022). Keep Food Safe After a Disaster or Emergency. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/keep-food-safe-after-emergency.html

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June is National Camping Month and has been observed since the 1970s.  Growing up my family went tent camping as a part of our family vacations. Once in a while we’d be with my grandparents and were able to stay in their fifth-wheeler camper; a luxury compared to a tent. Regardless of how you camp, you must consider food safety as you plan, prepare, and pack your meals.

A campsite with tents, camping chairs and a campfire
Our Campsite in 2021

Every year over the July 4th weekend, a group of friends and family go camping in the woods on a friend’s property. On these trips we don’t have electricity so there is an extra level of caution needed to ensure we keep our food at the proper temperature. Depending on your style of camping you may have a water source, electricity or both. Our annual camping weekend is quickly approaching, and I am getting ready to set our menu. As I make my plan I wanted to share a few menu planning and food safety tips with you.


One year on our annual trip, no one remembered to pack a spatula or tongs; making cooking over a fire even more adventurous and creative. Your packing plan needs to include everything you will need to prepare, make, serve, and eat each meal.

  • Make a menu, choosing basic recipes with limited steps and a low number of pots and pans.
  • Utilize recipes with overlapping ingredients and bring only the required amounts.
  • Plan meal portions to reduce meal preparation, leftovers, and waste.
  • Consider preparing parts of the meal before leaving for camp.
  • Incorporate shelf stable foods into meals and snacks.

Cleaning and sanitizing

Potable water is water that is safe to drink and is also the water you should utilize to clean your hands and dishes. Be sure to include biodegradable soap on your packing list. Include enough water for each person to drink, prepare meals, and wash hands and dishes. Alternatively, you can boil clear water from a stream or clear lake for one minute to wash dishes. Consider bringing hand sanitizer or disposable sanitizing wipes both for hands and surfaces. Be sure to clean up your campsite after each meal to deter unwanted animal visitors.

Keeping cold food cold and hot food hot

Cold food, prepared food, and leftovers all must be kept under 41°F. We utilize ice with our coolers, and place a thermometer in each cooler so I can quickly check the temperature.

  • Use a separate cooler or place raw meat (double wrapped) at the bottom of the cooler to keep it away from all other food. You can also cook the meat prior to leaving for camp to reduce chances of cross contamination.
  • Consider a separate cooler for meal food and ingredients versus drinks and snacks. The kids are always in and out of the drink cooler a million times which causes the ice to melt faster; making it harder for the cooler to maintain temperature.
  • Pack a food thermometer to ensure you are cooking food to the proper internal temperature.
    • Ground meat should be cooked to 160° F
    • Raw beef, pork, lamb, and veal steaks or chops to 145° F
    • Raw poultry to 165° F
    • Hot dogs, precooked meat, and leftovers to 165° F
a camp stove

Cooling and Storing Food: The two-hour rule

Food should only be left out for 2 hours, then cooled rapidly. If the temperature is over 90° F, then you should discard food after 1 hour. The temperature danger zone is the range of temperatures between 40° F – 140° F where bacteria multiply rapidly. Remember if you put a hot food item in the cooler to cool, you are heating the temperature of the cooler and melting ice more quickly. When in doubt, throw it out. Leftover food can be burned instead of thrown out.

Additional details to consider

  • How will you transport and store your cooking equipment?
  • Where will you store nonperishable food and cooking utensils?
  • Your plan should include how you will “Leave No Trace” (i.e., no lasting impact or effect on the environment and eco-system.)

Regardless of your camping or glamping style, make sure to make a plan for camp and food safety before you head out!

Written by: Laura Halladay, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Greene County.
Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, March 1). Water treatment options when hiking, camping or traveling. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/travel/

Garden-Robinson, J., & Totland, T. (2021, June). Keep Food Safe when Camping and Hiking. North Dakota State University- Publications. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/keep-food-safe-when-camping-and-hiking

Klemm, S. (2021, November 17). Hiking and camping with Food Safety in Mind. EatRight. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/safety-tips/outdoor-dining/hiking-and-camping-with-food-safety-in-mind

U.S. Department of the Interior. (n.d.). Leave No Trace Seven Principles. National Parks Service. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.nps.gov/articles/leave-no-trace-seven-principles.htm

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Picnic basket, flowers, and a book on a blanket in a field.

The days are getting warmer, and the nights are getting longer. Whether you are grilling out, enjoying lunch on the lake, or a picnic at your favorite place, it is important to keep your friends and family safe while having fun.

Food Safety:

Anytime you are working with or preparing food it is vital that you wash your hands. You want to be sure you are washing your hands before and after any task. You also want to wash your hands between handling different food items. Another key task is cleaning and sanitizing cutting boards and work areas to prevent cross contamination.

Temperature Danger Zone:

Another thing to be aware of when preparing food for gatherings is the temperature danger zone. The USDA classifies the temperature “Danger Zone” between 40 ° and 140 °F. The Meat and Poultry hotline states to never leave food out of refrigeration for over 2 hours.

When you are grilling out, remember to cook raw meat and poultry to the correct minimum internal temperatures.

Minimum Internal Temperatures:

  • Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source.
  • Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
  • Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.

Along with food safety, enjoy your summer by using these tips and tricks to have a great picnic with your friends and family.

 Tips for the Perfect Picnic:

Consider these tips for the perfect picnic.

  • Keep your cooler ready. If you are planning to make picnics a regular part of your summer, consider investing in a cooler-on-wheels for portability. To help keep foods cold, chill them in the refrigerator before packing and keep them in the cooler until serving time.
  • Fill empty drink bottles half full of water or juice and freeze. The frozen drinks will act as ice packs to keep the picnic cool in transit. At your destination, top off the bottles with water or a drink to enjoy with your meal.
  • Be mindful of your picnic location. When planning your food items, consider where you are going. Even if it is just to the park, it will help you prepare by considering the setting. Avoid anything that gets drippy, limp, or wimpy in warm weather. Gelatin salad is a perfect example of what not to take, and even tossed salads will wilt if left in the sun or warm weather for very long.
  • Make a menu. For an easy menu, have a fix-your-own sandwich bar. Fill plastic containers with pre-sliced sandwich fixings such as lettuce, tomatoes, cheeses, meats, bell peppers, olives, mushrooms, onions, and spinach. Set out hearty breads, crusty rolls or tortilla wraps and condiments.
  • Simple finger food, like carrots, celery, sliced bell peppers are cool, crispy additions to any picnic plate and a great way to include vegetables. Add a vegetable dip, and you have a quick and easy side dish.
  • Keep supplies on hand. Create a supply list and Include the following items: napkins, plates, cups, garbage bags, plastic bags that seal, serving utensils and cutting knives, can opener, cutting board, salt and pepper, packets of condiments, blanket to sit on, hand sanitizer, wet wipes or a wet washcloth in a plastic bag, paper towels, insect repellent.

To include a healthy, fun recipe; check out this MyPlate recipe for Broccoli Salad:


Food Safety and Inspection Service. How Temperatures Affect Food | Food Safety and Inspection Service. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2022, from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-            and-preparation/food-safety-basics/how-temperatures-affect-food

Lemly, K. (2021, May 24). Picnics, Cookouts, and Family Reunions! Live Healthy Live Well . Retrieved June 14, 2022, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/05/24/picnics-cookouts-and-family- reunions/

University, U. S. (2020, January 28). Ask an expert: Five tips for the Perfect Picnic. USU. Retrieved June      14, 2022, from https://extension.usu.edu/news_sections/home_family_and_food/perfect-picnic

Written by: Megan Zwick, Program Assistant, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.

Reviewed by: Laura Halladay, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Greene County.

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In a couple of weeks, my family and I will be sitting down to feast on sweets, side dishes, and TURKEY! To ensure everyone stays healthy and happy, I am going to debunk some turkey myths.

Myth #1 – You must rinse your turkey before cooking. According to the USDA, don’t wash the bird! Rinsing off the turkey increases the risk of cross-contamination. As water splashes, bacteria can be spread to your sink, countertops, and to already prepared foods. The exception to this rule is brine. If you are brining your turkey and need to rinse it, please make sure to remove all food items from the surrounding area before starting. After rinsing, be sure to wash the countertops and sink with hot soapy water and wash your hands for 20 seconds. To be extra careful, you can sanitize your surfaces with 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. It’s important to allow the surface to air dry completely before moving on to your next task.

Myth #2 – Those plastic pop-up thermometers are 100% accurate. Consumer Reports found that not all the 21 pop-up thermometers they tested in whole turkeys and turkey breast were accurate. Food experts at USDA recommend using a food thermometer instead. Make sure your food thermometer registers 165 ºF or higher in the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing, and the thickest part of the breast. You can be assured that the turkey is ready and safe to eat.

Myth #3 – Always choose white over dark meet because it is healthier. Turkey is a great source of protein. It has a low glycemic index, which means it won’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike and it helps increase levels of “good” HDL cholesterol in your body. There are some nutritional differences, white meat (breast and wings) has fewer calories and fat than dark meat (legs and thighs) per serving, while dark meat has higher levels of zinc and iron. Depending on your current health, if you are cutting back on fat and calories, then white meat might be the better option. Otherwise, choose whatever type you like and enjoy!

Myth #4 – Turkey makes people sleepy. Turkey meat contains a lot of an amino acid called L-tryptophan. The brain changes L-tryptophan into serotonin, which helps calm us down and helps us sleep. However, scientists at Johns Hopkins think it isn’t just what we eat that makes us so sleepy on Thanksgiving (after all my turkey sandwich any other time of the year has no impact), it is the quantity. Consuming a large meal increases blood flow to our stomach and decreases blood flow to our brain. The increased intake of carbohydrates (which may impact our glycemic index), alcohol consumption, and the hustle and bustle of the day can lead to a desperate need for a nap. To decrease your fatigue you might choose to eat smaller portions/meals, decrease the intake of carbohydrates, limit alcohol consumption, and delegate holiday preparations as you are able.

Turkey time can be a happy and healthy time if you debunk these myths. If you are looking for tips on ways to cook a turkey and a guide on how to roast a turkey (frozen or fresh), the USDA has several resources available for free.

For more information about food safety (in English and Spanish), call: USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline – (1-888-674-6854), E-mail: mphotline@usda.gov

Happy turkey day!

Written by: Roseanne Scammahorn, Ph.D., Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Darke County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Perry County

Photo by DONALD COOK from FreeImages


Johns Hopkins Medicine. (N.D.). Does Eating Turkey Make Me Sleepy? Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsallchildrens.org/Patients-Families/Health-Library/HealthDocNew/Does-Eating-Turkey-Make-Me-Sleepy

Mayo Clinic. (2020, August 25). Nutrition and healthy eating. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/glycemic-index-diet/art-20048478

Rehman, A. (2021, July 6). What Is Tryptophan? Sleep Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/nutrition/what-is-tryptophan

Umansky, D. (2016, November 22). Holiday Turkey: Should You Rely on a Meat Thermometer or a Pop-Up Timer? Consumer Reports. Retrieved from https://www.consumerreports.org/meat-thermometers/meat-thermometer-or-pop-up-timer-for-turkey/

University of Illinois Extension. (N.D.). Turkey for the Holidays – Nutrition. Retrieved from https://web.extension.illinois.edu/turkey/nutrition.cfm

University of Illinois Extension. (N.D.). Turkey for the Holidays – Using a Thermometer. Retrieved from https://web.extension.illinois.edu/turkey/thermometer.cfm

USDA. (2017, February 17). How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey. Retrieved from https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2016/11/22/how-cook-thanksgiving-turkey

USDA. (2015, September 28). Let’s Talk Turkey—A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey. Retrieved from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/poultry/lets-talk-turkey-roasting

USDA. (2021, August 3). Tips and Resources for a Bacteria-Free Thanksgiving. Retrieved from https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2017/11/22/tips-and-resources-bacteria-free-thanksgiving

USDA. (2017, February 21). To Wash or Not to Wash… Your Turkey? Retrieved from https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2013/11/21/wash-or-not-wash-your-turkey

USDA. (2019, October 22). Turkey Basics: Safe Cooking. Retrieved from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/poultry/turkey-basics-safe-cooking

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (N.D.). Cholesterol Levels: What You Need to Know. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/cholesterollevelswhatyouneedtoknow.html

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Cooked Salmon on a white plate wiht cauliflower mashed potatoes and green salad.

Did you know that fish is like a multivitamin for our brains? Fish and shellfish supply the nutrients, vitamins and omega-3s essential for brain development, strong bones, a healthy heart and immune system. This time of year, many people are looking for ways to “boost” their immune system . Good nutrition is extremely important in supporting a strong immune system, which can offer protection from some chronic health diseases. Unfortunately, even though eating fish is like a multivitamin for our brain, almost 90% of Americans, both children and adults, do not meet the recommendation for seafood! I have to admit, I too fall into that 90% group of not eating enough seafood each week and I absolutely love seafood.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating fish as part of a healthy eating pattern. It is recommended to eat at least 8 ounces of seafood, based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, the recommendations are to consume between 8 and 12 ounces per week of a variety of seafood from choices that are lower in mercury.

Here are some tips from seafoodnutrition.org that I plan to try this month to encourage my family to meet the seafood recommendations:

Eat a variety of seafood: Fish that is rich in omega-3s include tuna, salmon, trout, and sardines.  Grilling and broiling are great cooking methods and don’t forget to add some spices to enhance the flavor..

Keep seafood on hand: Be sure to stock your pantry with canned seafood. Canned salmon and tuna are tasty, healthy and easy to prepare. Keep frozen fish in the freezer for any easy meal. Kids love fish sticks!

Buy budget friendly:  It doesn’t have to be expensive to eat seafood. Check out weekly ads and sales, and buy in bulk. I personally like to buy several pounds of salmon and freeze into individual serving sizes for future use. The picture at the top of this blog is an example of this method after pulling out fish from my freezer and grilling it.

Put it on a salad or a sandwhich: Top a salad with canned tuna or salmon or use it for sandwiches in place of deli meats. You can also cook extra of your favorite fish and use the leftovers for another meal or two – a great way to get your seafood twice a week.

Keep seafood safe: Keep seafood refrigerated until ready to use and then cook fish to an internal temp of 145°F, until it easily flakes with a fork. Cook shrimp, lobster, and scallops until they are opaque (milky white).

I challenge you to be creative over the next month and eat seafood at least twice a week.

Written by: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County, Zies.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Shannon Smith, MFN, RD, LD, CDCES


Dietary Guidelines for Americans, https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/

Seafood Nutrition Partnership, http://www.seafoodnutrition.org

National Fisheries Institute, https://aboutseafood.com/

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This fall has presented many challenges for my family with eating a nutritious dinner as one of them. With back-to-school, work, homework and my kids extra-curricular activities, we found ourselves hitting the drive-thru more times than not. While discussing my troubles with a co-worker, they recommended I dust off my slow cooker and put it to work. Duh! Why didn’t I think of that? I decided to take full advantage of my slow-cooker and gain back my nutrition, time, and sanity.

Collection of slow cooker recipes graphic

As humans, we want tried and true recipes that we know others enjoy. What better way to get that than to team up with your co-workers and turn it into a project! At the beginning of the month, my office teammates and I started a Facebook campaign of slow cooker recipes for the month of October. Every day we have been posting a slow cooker recipe that our families enjoy. Not only did we want to share recipes, we wanted to share educational information with them.

Prior to the recipe posts we started with some slow cooker safety tips:

1. Make sure everything is CLEAN.

2. Keep food COLD until it’s time to assemble.

3. DEFROST meat first. Never put frozen meat into your slow cooker.

4. Cut meat into SMALLER pieces.

After that information was posted on social media, I received a lot of comments related to thawing meat prior to slow cooking. You can find additional information on this topic in one of our previous blog posts: “Using Your Slow Cooker Safely”.

We’ve also been keeping all the recipes on our county website to make it easier for people to find and print them. The great thing is you will find a mixture of recipes! We have a collection of breakfast dishes, soups, drinks, desserts, appetizers, and entrees. With the month coming to an end, we are sad to see this project come to an end, but excited to start working on the next one!


Goard, L. (2011, October 18). Using your slow cooker safely Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2011/10/18/using-your-slow-cooker-safely/

Jeffers, M.K. (2021, August 3). Cook slow to save time: four important slow cooker safety tips Retrieved from https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2017/10/24/cook-slow-save-time-four-important-slow-cooker-food-safety-tips?fbclid=IwAR31cTEAHJQ06p-sUCtrU4Ca2KkSNuPfHMBiBWTR7CqgQ_oy8oSQ_olhrlI

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

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This is the time of year when family and friends gather to enjoy outdoor activities and meals together.  Whether you are sitting on a blanket with a picnic basket or are the grill master in your backyard it is important that we all stay safe and healthy!

Each year millions of people contract and are hospitalized from a foodborne illness. The most common factors of foodborne illness are poor personal hygiene, cross contamination, cooking to the incorrect temperature, and time and temperature abuse. 

Anytime you prepare or handle food you want to wash your hands! Washing hands before and after any task and between handling different food items along cleaning and sanitizing cutting boards and countertops can prevent cross contamination.  Washing your hands can eliminate bacteria from being spread to other food items. 

The USDA temperature “Danger Zone” is between 40°F and 140°F this is when bacteria grows the most rapidly.  This means any cold food items that rise above 40°F and hot food items that drop below 140°F has entered the danger zone and can become hazardous.  Food should not be left at room temperature for more than a two-hour cumulative period. Any food that has been in the “danger zone” for more than two hours should be discarded. 

Another cause of foodborne illness is cooking foods at the incorrect internal cooking temperature.  Cooking meat at the correct internal temperature is an important step to preventing foodborne illness.

Internal Cooking temperature: 

Poultry- 165°F

Ground Meat- 160°F

Fish and Shellfish- 145°F

Steaks and Chops- 145°F

An inexpensive gadget to have to ensure you are staying out of the temperature “danger zone” and cooking to the correct internal temperature is a thermometer.  There are a variety of types so when buying a thermometer make sure you purchase the correct type for what you want to use it for. 

Following these simple rules can reduce the risk of foodborne illness and will keep your family and friends safe at all your meals together!


USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Retrieved May 17,2021 from  https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/safe-temperature-chart

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Retrieved May 17,2021 from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/safe-temperature-chart

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  Retrieved May 18,2021 from https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/features/coronavirus/returning-to-work/protection/handwashing

Written by:  Kellie Lemly, MEd, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Champaign County, lemly.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Laura Halladay,NDTR, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Greene County, Halladay.6@osu.edu

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Picture of a family holding hands and the 1943 USDA bulletin with the words National Wartime Nutrition Guide. U. S. Needs US Strong, Eat the Basic 7 Every Day.

In January, I wrote about the newly introduced Dietary Guidelines for Americans. However, did you know that the United States Department of Agriculture has been providing dietary recommendations for well over 100 years? The first dietary advice by USDA was a Farmers Bulletin created in 1894, by W. O. Atwater. Atwater was the first person to publish tables of food composition and dietary standards. He recommended diets for American males based on protein, carbohydrate and fat content and their minerals. Interestingly, many minerals and vitamins were not even known back in 1894. The concept of eating a variety of foods, eating a well balanced diet, watching portion sizes and moderation for health and well being is the basis for today’s Dietary Guidelines, and its roots go way back to 1894.

If we look at dietary guidance over the years, some have certainly changed, however, many things still resonate today. In the 1920’s the government was concerned about food safety and foodborne Illness was prevalent in the USA. Our refrigeration technology was certainly not what it is today. For example, not all Americans had a refrigerator with a freezer. Therefore, perishable products such as milk and meat would go bad quickly. As we moved to the 1930’s there were more advancements in science and nutrition. We learned more about vitamins and minerals and their role in the body. In 1943, USDA released the Basic Seven Food Guide, a publication called the National Wartime Nutrition Guide. The Basic Seven advised choosing specific foods such as green/yellow vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, milk and milk products.

After World War II, USDA developed Food and Fitness- A Daily Food Guide. This publication focused on four groups; milk, vegetables and fruit, bread and cereal. It focused on eating with family, healthy meals and budgeting. This was the first time serving sizes were introduced. In 1977, the Dietary Goals of Americans was released. The focus was to address the issue of Americans consuming too much sugar, fat and salt. In 1980, the first Dietary Guidelines as we know it today was published “Nutrition and Your Health- Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” Since then, USDA has published recommendations on Dietary Guidelines every five years, to the most recent Dietary Guidelines 2020 to 2025.

The format of these documents have evolved from  paper copy bulletins, websites, blogs, pictorial images such as My Pyramid and MyPlate. Yet, USDA has been providing dietary guidance for over a century. The research has certainly expanded over the years to keep up with todays lifestyles and food consumption. However, in spite of all these rapid changes, the more things change, the more they resemble the past.

Written by: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County, Zies.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Shannon Smith, MFN, RD, LD, CDCES, Program Coordinator, OSU Extension, Wood County, Smith.11604@osu.edu


  • History of the Dietary Guidelines | Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Dietaryguidelines.gov. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/about-dietary-guidelines/history-dietary-guidelines. Published 2021. Accessed March 1, 2021.
  • Jahns L, Davis-Shaw W, Lichtenstein A, Murphy S, Conrad Z, Nielsen F. The History and Future of Dietary Guidance in America. Advances in Nutrition. 2018;9(2):136-147. doi:10.1093/advances/nmx025
  • https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/42215/5831_aib750b_1_.pdf
  • Schneeman B. Evolution of dietary guidelines. J Am Diet Assoc. 2003;103(12):5-9. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2003.09.030
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.gov.

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