Texas Neighbors Winter 2017 : Page 31

TEXAS NEIGHBORS | WINTER 2017 Food safety prep tips By Shala Watson Staff Writer The holidays are over, a season when many meals are shared around the table and there’s heightened awareness of food safety and edu-cation. But that same care should be taken all year long to help reduce foodborne illnesses. About 48 million people—or one in six Americans—become sick from foodborne illnesses each year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths from consuming contaminated food, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But there are ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness and to prevent harmful bacteria from contaminating your food through practic-ing proper food handling safety, according to Dr. Jenna Anding, AgriLife Extension associate department head of Nutrition and Food Sci-ences at Texas A&M University. Whether grocery shopping, storing, thawing or preparing food, there are many safety tips that are easily overlooked. Anding offered several tips for shoppers to handle food at the grocery store. 1. Purchase raw produce that is not damaged; make sure fresh cut produce and bagged salads are refrigerated. 2. Select canned foods that are not dented, rusty or bulging. 3. Make sure the eggs you buy are not cracked. 4. Choose only pasteurized milk, milk products and juices. 5. Select foods with a sell-by, best-by, or use-by date that allow you to enjoy the foods at their peak quality. NOTE: In most cases, these dates are on food packages for quality purposes and if consumers handle them safely, most of these foods can be enjoyed after the date on the package. 6. Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods in the shopping cart. Place them in plastic bags to prevent any juices from leak-ing on fresh produce or other foods. 7. Purchase your perishable foods (refrigerated and frozen food sections) last and get them home as soon as possible. A hot car is no place to leave these food items so if you have to run some errands before you can get perishable foods home, place them in a cooler with ice or gel packs to keep them cold. Fresh poultry should be cooked or frozen within 1-2 days of purchase. Fresh beef, veal, lamb or pork should be cooked or frozen within 3-5 days. Be sure to wash your hands before and after handling food. Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people pre-pare or consume them. They can also multiply in some types of foods and drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick. “Our hands touch a lot of things every day and some of those things may have harmful germs on them,” Anding said. “You can’t see, smell or taste these germs, but they can be spread to other things like food or people. This is why it is important to keep your hands clean.” Wash using warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails. Rinse your hands well under running water and then dry. “You always want to wash your hands before eating, during and after preparing food,” Anding said. “Before and after treating a wound or caring for someone who is sick, after you blow your nose, cough or sneeze, after handling uncooked eggs, raw meat, poultry or seafood, after handling garbage or after using the restroom.” Improper thawing and preparation of meats can also lead to foodborne illness. Anding said there are three acceptable ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave. If you thaw food in cold water or in the microwave, it must be cooked immediately. Make sure your food preparation surfaces are clean to avoid cross-contamination during cooking. A food thermometer should be used to check the internal temperature of the food, because you can’t tell if a food item is “done” just by looking at it. Foods vary on the recommended safe internal temperature, Anding noted. Store foods properly and keep them out of the temperature danger zone, which is 40 to 140 degrees for consumers. Never leave perish-able foods like raw meat, poultry, eggs, cut vegetables or fruits or even cooked foods out at room temperature for more than two hours, or one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees. If you have leftovers, divide them up into shallow containers so they cool in the refrigerator quickly. Use refrigerated leftovers within three or four days. Using separate cutting boards for preparing raw meat and produce also helps reduce the risk of cross-contamination. If there are any germs that can cause foodborne illness on raw meat, poultry or seafood, you want to make sure that they don’t come into contact with fresh produce, which may be eaten raw. Keeping separate cutting boards is an easy way to prevent this from happening. After using your cutting boards, make sure they’re washed in hot soapy water and sanitized. For more information on consumer food safety, visit the Partnership for Food Safety Education. WWW.TEXASFARMBUREAU.ORG

Food Safety Prep Tips

Shala Watson

The holidays are over, a season when many meals are shared around the table and there’s heightened awareness of food safety and education. But that same care should be taken all year long to help reduce foodborne illnesses.

About 48 million people—or one in six Americans—become sick from foodborne illnesses each year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths from consuming contaminated food, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But there are ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness and to prevent harmful bacteria from contaminating your food through practicing proper food handling safety, according to Dr. Jenna Anding, AgriLife Extension associate department head of Nutrition and Food Sciences at Texas A&M University.

Whether grocery shopping, storing, thawing or preparing food, there are many safety tips that are easily overlooked.

Anding offered several tips for shoppers to handle food at the grocery store.

1) Purchase raw produce that is not damaged; make sure fresh cut produce and bagged salads are refrigerated.

2) Select canned foods that are not dented, rusty or bulging.

3) Make sure the eggs you buy are not cracked.

4) Choose only pasteurized milk, milk products and juices.

5) Select foods with a sell-by, best-by, or use-by date that allow you to enjoy the foods at their peak quality. NOTE: In most cases, these dates are on food packages for quality purposes and if consumers handle them safely, most of these foods can be enjoyed after the date on the package.

6) Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods in the shopping cart. Place them in plastic bags to prevent any juices from leaking on fresh produce or other foods.

7) Purchase your perishable foods (refrigerated and frozen food sections) last and get them home as soon as possible. A hot car is no place to leave these food items so if you have to run some errands before you can get perishable foods home, place them in a cooler with ice or gel packs to keep them cold.

Fresh poultry should be cooked or frozen within 1-2 days of purchase. Fresh beef, veal, lamb or pork should be cooked or frozen within 3-5 days.

Be sure to wash your hands before and after handling food. Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume them. They can also multiply in some types of foods and drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick.

“Our hands touch a lot of things every day and some of those things may have harmful germs on them,” Anding said. “You can’t see, smell or taste these germs, but they can be spread to other things like food or people. This is why it is important to keep your hands clean.”

Wash using warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails. Rinse your hands well under running water and then dry.

“You always want to wash your hands before eating, during and after preparing food,” Anding said. “Before and after treating a wound or caring for someone who is sick, after you blow your nose, cough or sneeze, after handling uncooked eggs, raw meat, poultry or seafood, after handling garbage or after using the restroom.”

Improper thawing and preparation of meats can also lead to foodborne illness.

Anding said there are three acceptable ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave. If you thaw food in cold water or in the microwave, it must be cooked immediately.

Make sure your food preparation surfaces are clean to avoid cross-contamination during cooking.

A food thermometer should be used to check the internal temperature of the food, because you can’t tell if a food item is “done” just by looking at it. Foods vary on the recommended safe internal temperature, Anding noted.

Store foods properly and keep them out of the temperature danger zone, which is 40 to 140 degrees for consumers. Never leave perishable foods like raw meat, poultry, eggs, cut vegetables or fruits or even cooked foods out at room temperature for more than two hours, or one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees. If you have leftovers, divide them up into shallow containers so they cool in the refrigerator quickly. Use refrigerated leftovers within three or four days.

Using separate cutting boards for preparing raw meat and produce also helps reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

If there are any germs that can cause foodborne illness on raw meat, poultry or seafood, you want to make sure that they don’t come into contact with fresh produce, which may be eaten raw. Keeping separate cutting boards is an easy way to prevent this from happening.

After using your cutting boards, make sure they’re washed in hot soapy water and sanitized.

For more information on consumer food safety, visit the Partnership for Food Safety Education.

Read the full article at http://texasneighbors.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Food+Safety+Prep+Tips/2681107/374045/article.html.

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