Monday, October 29, 2012

Keeping Food Safe When The Power Goes Out

With hurricane season upon us now is a good time to review food safety when the power goes out.

Freezer Safety

A full freezer will remain below 40°F for about two days, and a less-than-full freezer will maintain that temperature for approximately one day. Rearrange meats so their juices do not drip onto other foods as the meats begin to thaw. Throw away any ready-to-eat item that comes in contact with meat juices.

Frozen foods that have partially orcompletely thawed can be refrozenif they contain ice crystals. If they have completely thawed but are still at a temperature of 40°F or below, they also can be refrozen. Use a digital thermometer to check the temperature of the food. Although partial thawing and refreezing of these foods will be safe, the quality of some foods, especially vegetablesand fruits, may be reduced. Hard cheeses, breads, and fruits and vegetables and their juices—if they look and smell normal—can be refrozen even if they have been above 40°F for more than two hours.

One way to ensure the safety of thawed meat products that have been above 40°F for two hours or less is to cook them immediately. Either serve the food immediately or refreeze the cooked item. Be sure to cook to the proper temperatures, checking internal temperatures with a digital thermometer. Refrigerate and use within two days or freeze the leftovers immediately.

Foodborne illness is very uncomfortable and sometimes life-threatening, especially for the very young, the senior population, and those with weakened immune systems. Don’t take chances on your family’s safety for the sake of a few dollars in groceries. Remember: When in doubt, throw it out!

As a result of thunderstorms, ice storms, and other disturbances, power outages occur more often than we desire. Outages are not only an inconvenience, but also a safety issue, particularly when it comes to food. When refrigerators and freezers lose power, we worry about whether or not the food will be safe for our families. Knowing how to handle food while the power is off and when it has been restored will help to ensure that you and your family do not become victims of a foodborne illness. To monitor temperatures, it’s important to keep an appliance thermometer in both the refrigerator and the freezer at all times. This will take the guesswork out of determining the temperature of your units. Also, keep a digital thermometer on hand. This utensil will enable you to check the temperature of thawed foods to determine their safety. When the power goes out, try to find out how long it is expected to be off. If it will be for only a few hours, don’t do anything. Open the freezer or refrigerator door as little as possible, for this will allow the units to maintain their chilled temperatures longer.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Avoid Halloween Nightmares


Even though it’s not an official holiday, Halloween is much beloved by children and adults alike. What could be more fun than trick-or-treating, apple bobbing, or costume parties?
To make sure treats are safe for children, follow these simple steps:

Snacking: Children shouldn’t snack while they’re out trick-or-treating. Give them a light meal or snack before they head out – don’t send them out on an empty stomach. Urge them to wait until they get home and let you inspect the contents of their “goody bags.”

Safe treats: Tell children not to accept – and especially not to eat – anything that isn’t commercially wrapped. Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.

Choking hazards: If you have very young children, be sure to remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys.Bobbing for apples is an all-time favorite Halloween game. Here are a couple of ways to say “boo” to bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.
Reduce the number of bacteria that might be present on apples and other raw fruits and vegetables by thoroughly rinsing them under cool running water. As an added precaution, use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
  • Try this new spin on apple bobbing from Cut out lots of apples from red construction paper.  On each apple, write activities for kids, such as “do 5 jumping jacks.”  Place a paper clip on each apple and put them in a large basket. Tie a magnet to a string.  Let the children take turns “bobbing” with their magnet and doing the activity written on their apple. Give children a fresh apple for participating.
If your idea of Halloween fun is a party at home, don’t forget these tips:
  • Beware of spooky cider!  Unpasteurized juice or cider can contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella. To stay safe, always serve pasteurized products at your parties.
  • No matter how tempting, don't taste raw cookie dough or cake batter that contain uncooked eggs.
  • “Scare" bacteria away by keeping all perishable foods chilled until serving time. These include finger sandwiches, cheese platters, fruit or tossed salads, cold pasta dishes with meat, poultry, or seafood, and cream pies or cakes with whipped-cream and cream-cheese frostings.
  • Bacteria will creep up on you if you let foods sit out too long. Don’t leave perishable goodies out of the fridge for more than two hours (1 hour in temperatures above 90°F).
References: FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

Monday, October 1, 2012

Breast Cancer and Diet

Does diet really matter when it comes to breast cancer? Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, this is the perfect time to answer that question.

And the answer is a resounding yes. Breast cancer risk can be decreased by up to 38% through lifestyle factors including maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet. In fact, less than 10% of breast cancer appears to have a genetic basis.

For prevention of breast cancer, limiting alcohol to one drink a day (5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of spirits) is one of the most important things that you can do. In addition, a plant-based diet loaded with at least two cups a day of a variety of produce is beneficial.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, "no single food or food component can protect you against cancer by itself. But scientists believe that the combination of foods in a predominantly plant-based diet may. There is evidence that the minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals in plant foods could interact in ways that boost their individual anti-cancer effects. This concept of interaction, where 1 + 1 = 3, is called synergy."