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Posts Tagged ‘food safety’

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.

Preparation

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.

Sources:

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:

Resources

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

Sources:

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

Sources:

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!

Sources:

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!

References:

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

Sources:

  • 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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The pandemic prompted many more people to plant vegetable gardens this year. Both seed companies and Extension Master Gardener programs have noticed this increase between purchases and visits to online courses and resources.  Some people had the time to plant because they were off work or working at home, others planted as a way to relieve their stress, and many planted to ensure they would have fresh produce for the summer (and maybe longer if they preserved by canning, drying, or freezing). In Ohio, these gardens are now yielding green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, fresh herbs, cucumbers, onions, sweet corn, and much more. When the first vegetables ripen everyone is excited to fix them for lunch or dinner, but after a few weeks you may be wondering “Why did I plant so much?” or “What can I do with the rest of this, because my kids won’t eat corn again this week?” If this is you – Ohio State University Extension (and other Land Grant Universities, the National Center for Home Food Preservation, and the USDA) are here to help.home canned foods

There are several key points to keep in mind when you decide you want to preserve produce for the future, here are the top three:

  1. Always use reliable, approved guidelines from the National Center for Home Food Preservation, the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, or Cooperative Extension. You may ask “Why can’t I just use anything I see on the Internet or make my pepper relish the way my Great Grandma did?” The main reason is because especially low-acid foods (vegetables, meats, or seafood) have to be pressure canned to prevent botulism, which is serious stuff. By using resources from the above sources, you ensure that you are using safe, tested procedures that will provide high quality results. Check the date too, are you using a source from the last couple years? New research and procedures come out all the time. Make sure you are using materials dated in the last 5 years (even though it may be fun to look at a cookbook from 50 years ago, canning isn’t when you want to follow that recipe). Remember that canning is a science, not an art.
  2. Decide if are you are canning, freezing, or drying the produce based on your plans for future use and the foods your family will eat. It does not benefit your family to spend lots of time and purchase the supplies needed if they will not eat the final product you preserve. For example, there are many things you can do with tomatoes – salsa, canned whole tomatoes, tomato juice, spaghetti sauce, dried vegetable leather, and even spiced tomato jam. Consider the foods your family enjoys before you can 50 jars something that only one person likes.
  3. Ensure you have the proper supplies to make the product. Do you need a pressure canner, or can you use a hot water bath canner? Do you have enough Mason style canning jars or freezer quality containers? Do you need a food dehydrator, or can you use your oven or other drying racks? Here is a quick reference chart if you aren’t sure if you need to use a hot water bath or pressure canner.

In addition to the sources listed about for food preservation here are a few others:

Enjoy the fruits of your labor all year long by using safe preservation methods.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Kate Shumaker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Holmes County.

Sources:

The National Center for Home Food Preservation, https://nchfp.uga.edu/

University of Minnesota Extension, https://extension.umn.edu/preserving-and-preparing/canning-quick-reference-chart

Utah State University Extension, https://extension.usu.edu/news_sections/home_family_and_food/food-preservation-tips.

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An important seasonal topic that can continue during the COVID-19 pandemic is growing and eating fresh local produce. Good news: whether you grow a garden or not, local Ohio farmers are committed to supplying us with fresh produce during the growing season.

Vegetable gardening offers easy access to fresh, in-season produce for all ages and abilities. Ohio State University Extension suggests:

  • It’s OK to dream big and start small. Whether you grow in containers on a patio, in a school or community garden plot or in your front or back yard, make the best choices for your growing space, interest and goals.
  • Learn about the plants you would like to grow.
  • Know your local resources like your county Extension office.
  • Be familiar with potential challenges and possible solutions. Your county Extension office might have a Horticulture Hotline. If not, there’s a state-wide Ask A Master Gardener site.
  • Use food safe practices in the garden, from the garden to the kitchen and in the kitchen.
  • Enjoy yourself and your fresh produce.
  • Share your success stories and share your extra produce.   
Bee in Nasturtium

While vegetable gardening is a timeless topic, we will note a few things special to the 2020 growing season:

  • Please respect social distancing and other recommendations from the Ohio Department of Health. This is especially important at community places such as stores to purchase supplies and also when visiting and working at community garden sites.
  • Follow all previous recommendations for food safety. Although Covid-19 transmission from food has not been shown, everyone should continue to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods. 
  • Most likely, different local services as well as national and international ones will be disrupted due to COVID-19. For example, we encourage gardeners to do a soil test but sites like University of Massachusetts Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory share the following message: “All onsite work at the Soil & Plant Nutrient Testing Lab has been temporarily suspended due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.  We are not accepting new samples for analysis at this time.  Current turnaround time is not known.”  The OSU Extension FactSheet on Soil Testing includes a list of both private and public labs and some of the labs are accepting soil samples. Please reach out directly to the labs for their current hours and services provided. Reach out to local stores and greenhouses to know their current shopping and sale practices as well.
  • Gardening offers many benefits. In 2020, we hope that your garden can offer some stress-reduction, fresh air and tasty treats!

Writer: Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Lucas County.

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County.

Links from post:

Beam, B. (2020). Directory of Lucas Food Producers. Ohio State University. Retrieved 05/08/2020 from  https://u.osu.edu/localfoodproducers/

Boggs, J.. Meyer, C., Gao, G. and Chatfield, J. (2017). Soil Testing for Ohio Lawns, Landscapes, Fruit Crops, and Vegetable Gardens. Retrieved 05/08/2020  https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-1132

Darnton, J., and McGuire, L. (2014). What are the physical and mental benefits of gardening? Michigan State University Extension. Retrieved 05/08/20 from

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/what_are_the_physical_and_mental_benefits_of_gardening

Food Safety for Consumers, Specialty Crop Producers and Marketers during Covid-19 (2020). Retrieved 05/08/2020 from

https://fcs.osu.edu/news/covid-19-updates-and-resources/food-safety-consumers-specialty-crop-producers-and-marketers

Hill, M., (5 May 2020). Considerations for vegetable gardening. Ohio State University Extension. Retrieved 05/08/2020 from https://wayne.osu.edu/news/considerations-vegetable-gardening

North Carolina State University, (2020) Handling Covid-19, Guidance for Community Gardens. Retrieved 05/08/20 from https://fcs.osu.edu/sites/fcs/files/imce/PDFs/COVID/OSU_Community%20Gardens_COVID-19_042120.pdf

Powers-Barker, P. (2018). Fresh, Safe Garden Produce, Live Smart Ohio. Retrieved 05/08/2020 from  https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/food/powers-barker-1osu-edu/fresh-safe-garden-produce/

Photos: pixabay and Lawrence, E. (2020)

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Holiday baking is in full force, and it wouldn’t be the same without the occasional licking of the spoon from the raw cookie dough that so many of us do without thinking! I remember as a child waiting anxiously for my grandma to give me the beater off her kitchen mixer so I could taste her amazing chocolate chip cookie dough. Although many share fond baking memories, there are serious warnings from the CDC and FDA to not eat any kind of raw dough, and for good reasons!

Most people know that the raw eggs used in doughs can contaminate foods with salmonella, but it may come as a surprise that consuming raw flour is associated with E. coli, a serious foodborne illness that can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, and fever. 

Why flour?

Flour is a raw, agricultural product that has not been treated to kill bacteria, germs or other contaminates. According to Leslie Smoot, a senior FDA advisor, “if an animal heeds the call of nature in the field, bacteria from the animal waste could contaminate the grain, which is then harvested and milled into flour.” 

If raw dough is not baked to kill off bacteria or germs, then… bingo…we may consume contaminated food and can get sick. The CDC and FDA have issued many warnings against eating items with raw flour because raw ingredients are meant to be cooked before eating.

It is also important to remember that any dough, not just cookie dough, made with raw flour has the potential to be harmful. Other raw doughs may include breads, pizza, tortillas and even play dough and papier-mâché or ornaments made with flour. 

The risk is real, especially for children under the age of five. Their immune systems may be more sensitive or not yet fully developed, putting them at higher risk for illness. To keep kids safe, the CDC instructs parents to always bake cookies according to directions and keep flour out of kids’ crafts.

During this holiday season remember that there is a reason for cooking raw dough beside the obvious baking that takes place.  If you are one that likes to nibble on raw cookie dough and don’t think you’ll be able to resist, you can heat-treat your flour before baking and try a recipe for edible cookie dough.

Happy baking…and enjoy!

Author: Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

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

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019). Say No to Raw Dough! https://www.cdc.gov/features/no-raw-dough/index.html

Tane, S. (2016). How you can safely eat raw cookie dough despite recent recalls. Cooking Light. https://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/smart-choices/safe-to-eat-cookie-dough

Turner, T. (2017). Chow Line: Don’t Eat Uncooked Flour. https://cfaes.osu.edu/news/articles/chow-line-don%E2%80%99t-eat-uncooked-flour

Turner, T. (2018). Chow Line: With Holiday Baking Season in Full Swing, a Reminder from the CDC to Just Say No to Eating Raw Dough. https://cfaes.osu.edu/news/articles/chow-line-with-holiday-baking-season-in-full-swing-reminder-from-cdc-just-say-no

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2017). Raw Dough’s a Raw Deal and Could Make You Sick. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/raw-doughs-raw-deal-and-could-make-you-sick

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