Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Family from Food Poisoning

Posted by Admin | Posted in Be Healthy, Food Safety, Foodborne Illness, Handwashing, Kids | Posted on 11-04-2012

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  1. Wash your hands properly with soap and water before and after food preparation. Make sure family members also wash hands before and after eating.
  2. Buy all meats, seafood, and dairy products from reputable suppliers
  3. Examine canned foods for bacterial contamination
  4. Store raw meats and other potentially hazardous foods below ready-to-eat foods in refrigerator. For example, if you have a thawing turkey, place it below cans of Coca-Cola.
  5. Keep potentially hazardous foods out of the “Temperature Danger Zone” (41 to 135 degrees F)
  6. Wash fruits and vegetables before eating them
  7. Do not prepare food when you are sick
  8. Avoid cross contamination by cleaning knives and cutting boards especially when switching from one food item to another. It’s also a good idea to keep your kitchen cleaned, sanitized, and free of pests.
  9. Cook foods to their appropriate temperature
  10. Use your best judgment when preparing, eating, and serving food!

Madelyn Tucker

Today is Pi Day, But We’re Celebrating PIE Day

Posted by Emilee | Posted in Company News, Food Safety, Foodborne Illness, foodsafety.gov, For Fun, FYI, In the News, Seasonal | Posted on 14-03-2012

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Pi Pie?

Today is March 14th. By the numbers, that’s 3/14. That can only mean one thing: Pie! (Well, it actually means Pi, but we’re a food safety company.) I love me some pie. Today in honoring food and numbers, I will eat pie. Also, we will be visiting some important numbers in food safety. After all, that’s what we do here at StateFoodSafety.com.

  • 41-135 degrees is the temperature range known as The Temperature Danger Zone. Pathogens on food left in the Temperature Danger Zone for too long are likely to multiply to unsafe levels (see the number 4 below). Gotta keep the hot food hot and the cold food cold.
  • 145 degrees is the FDA’s new recommended cooking temperature for pork. Which, incidentally, is one of the few animals you can eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • 4 is the number of hours food can be left in the Temperature Danger Zone before there’s really no hope of safely recovering it. If the food has been sitting out this long, toss it. Remember that many foodborne bacteria will produce dangerous toxins during this four hour window, and many toxins cannot be killed by cooking.
  • 0 is the number of mushrooms you should eat out of your front yard. Unless your front yard is a mushroom farm, but who are we kidding; it ain’t. Don’t eat them!
  • 20 seconds is how long it takes to effectively wash your hands. How should you time that, you ask? Try humming “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to yourself. The song is about 20 seconds long.
  • 165 degrees is the temperature to which you should cook all poultry, ground meats, and stuffed foods.
  • 7 days. The maximum number of days bacon (or other pre-cooked and open items) should remain in your fridge. But does it ever really come close to that?
  • 3 to 4 days. The maximum number of days leftover pizza should remain in the fridge. I’m not sure which gets eaten first, the bacon or the leftover pizza? If leftover pizza stays in your fridge longer than 12 hours you’re not doing your job.
  • 1 week. The time hard boiled eggs can be kept fresh in the fridge. In the fridge, not under the couch cushions because your kid (or you) couldn’t find it.

Many more food safety numbers can be learned by taking our Food Handler’s Course. Information can also be found at FoodSafety.gov.

 

Tim Snarr

Food Safety for Fido

Posted by Emilee | Posted in Food Safety, Foodborne Illness, FYI, Salmonella | Posted on 22-02-2012

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Boston Terrier

My nine-year old Boston Terrier sits like a human, behaves like a human, and even has his own dedicated place on the living room couch. He’s basically my mute, furry little brother. I know that many people have similar relations with their pets, and while we say Fido is an important member of the family, do we treat him like family when it comes to his food and food safety issues? Veterinarians say that we should pay closer attention to what and how we feed our pets because our own health is also on the line.

What if somebody forced you to eat off the same dirty dish every day? Most people wouldn’t stand for this type of treatment, and your pet shouldn’t either. The bacterial microbes found in our pets’ mouths are often transferred to their food and water bowls, creating a breeding ground for bacteria to grow. This bacteria can potentially make your pet ill, and it could also harm you. It is wise to wash your pet’s food dish between every meal and clean their water bowl every few days.

When handling pet food, we should also remember to wash our hands before and after just like we do when preparing and eating our own meals. Why? Pet food is not immune from possible contamination caused by bacteria and other harmful microorganisms, such as Salmonella. We wouldn’t want to make our pets sick by feeding them contaminated Milk Bones. In addition, if the food is somehow already contaminated, washing hands prevents us from falling ill.

However, even if we take great care in how we feed our furry friends, we should also take note of what we feed them. Arguments for and against sharing table scraps are both compelling; however, if we do choose to stick to canned or bagged pet food, we should follow veterinary recommendations, make sure that the products contain needed nutrients, and take note of recalled pet products. The Humane Society keeps a regularly updated list of recalled pet food products found here.

In addition, we should be mindful of how we store pet food. Leftovers from moist foods, like canned kitty or dog chow, should be refrigerated promptly or discarded. Dry pet food and treats should be stored in a cool, dry place (under 80 degrees F). It’s best if the food is kept in the original bag but placed inside of a clean plastic container with a lid. Remember to wash this container regularly as well.

In sum, food borne illnesses can affect all living things, and your pets rely on you to keep them protected from harmful bacteria.

Madelyn Tucker

 

Sources: foodsafety.gov, humanesociety.org

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Let’s Eat At a Clean Restaurant Because I Love You!

Posted by Emilee | Posted in Be Healthy, Food Safety, Foodborne Illness, For Fun, Seasonal | Posted on 02-02-2012

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Dine Right This Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is coming up which means that many couples are making reservations for their favorite restaurant. Although the crumbs on the floor and the occasional sticky table might add to the “homey” atmosphere of your preferred mom and pop diner, you should think twice about what the kitchen might look like if the dining area is so filthy. You like the relaxed nature of the employees that shows when they prefer to handle your food without gloves; however, you should also consider how many “relaxed” food handlers tend to disregard those “Employees Must Wash Hands” signs hanging in the restrooms. Hopefully, you are trying to help your significant other remember this special night for how much you love them, not for how upset their digestive system feels. Here are some suggestions to help make your dining experience safer and more enjoyable:

  • Take note of the dining area and restrooms. If they do not meet cleanliness standards, it’s probably a good sign that the kitchen is also in need of more than just a light dusting. You might consider eating elsewhere for your own safety.
  • Only eat foods that are served to you hot. If the food is served to you at a lukewarm temperature, chances are that it was left sitting for too long and has allowed harmful bacteria to multiply.
  • Make sure the staff does not touch your food or the tips of your silverware with their bare hands. It’s probably not a good idea to let them sample your drink either.
  • Be wary of meat, eggs, oysters, or other raw foods that are undercooked.
  • Wash your hands properly before and after eating.

And what about the doggie bag? If you and your loved one know that you will not be back home to refrigerate your leftovers within the next two hours, leave your food remains behind (even if it makes starving children in other countries cry.) If your leftovers do make it home, make sure that you reheat the goods to at least 165 degrees F. With leftovers, always keep the “Temperature Danger Zone” in mind–the range of temperature that bacteria thrive in, usually falling between 40 and 140 degrees F. Make sure to keep your food above or below this range.

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

Madelyn Tucker

 

Sources: NSF.org, FDA.gov

Making Food Early, Dos and Don’ts

Posted by Emilee | Posted in Food Safety, Foodborne Illness, For Fun, FYI, Seasonal | Posted on 28-11-2011

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We’re completely aware that Thanksgiving has come and gone, but the blissful gluttony of delicious holiday delights has only just begun. If anything, Thanksgiving is a but a bookend to a smorgasbord that doesn’t end until after New Year’s. For some, however (namely the cooks), the holidays mean months of dreaded epicurean agony. Naturally, those in the kitchen lean towards preparing as much food as they can before big events. Though not all food stores well, there are a handful of dishes that do–even to the point of tasting better if prepared in advance: turkey gravy, pie, unbaked rolls, baked casseroles, stuffing, vegetable platters, salad dressings, and dips, just to name a few. But before jumping in and getting too excited about all the time you’ll save by preparing your food ahead of time, consider this list of Dos and Don’ts to keep your meal safe:

DOs:

  1. Thoroughly clean your refrigerator and freezer.  This not only gives you the room you will need to store your delicious morsels, but it will also keep them from absorbing the smells and bacteria of a dirty cooling device. If you’re extra worried about smells, let a partially opened box of baking soda accompany your food just to be safe (the sodium bicarbonate in baking soda absorbs odors like a champ).
  2. After preparing hot food, allow it to cool before placing it in the refrigerator or freezer.  Also, refrigerate or freeze food in shallow containers.
  3. Defrost the turkey in the refrigerator—or, if you’re running low on time, in cold water.  Follow the USDA’s chart for turkey’s defrosting times.
  4. Reheat all hot foods to a minimum of 165 degrees, including the center of the dish.
  5. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold (140 degrees or above for hot foods; 40 degrees or below for cold foods).

DON’Ts:

  1. Interrupt cooking.  Partially cooked foods cool to temperatures that bacteria thrive in.  Be safe by cooking foods completely the first time.
  2. Overstuff your refrigerator or freezer.  Doing so will not only put your food at risk by heating up appliances’ internal temperature, which allows bacteria to grow, but it will waste energy by making your appliances work harder to maintain a cooler temperature.
  3. Thaw food anywhere except in the refrigerator, cold water, or the microwave.
  4. Let food sit out.  Bacteria starts growing in food only two hours after it is prepared.
  5. Stress.  Following these basic rules will save you time and energy, which will in turn allow you to enjoy, with your guests, a day of blissful gluttony.

Aubrey Pontious

Sources: thekitchn.com, dummies.com, FSIS.usda.gov, renewalblesathome.com