Posts belonging to Category U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA)



The Holiday Buffet

holiday buffetHoliday buffets are a popular way to entertain, but these kinds of food service, where foods are left out for long periods of time, can be a health hazard.

Here are some tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline to help you have a safe holiday party.

Safe Food Handling
Always serve food on clean plates — not those previously holding raw meat and poultry. Otherwise, bacteria which may have been present in raw meat juices can cross contaminate the food to be served.

Cook Thoroughly
If you are cooking holiday foods ahead of time for your party, be sure to cook foods thoroughly to safe 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. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.
  • 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.

Use Shallow Containers to Store Holiday Foods
Divide holiday cooked foods into shallow containers to store in the refrigerator or freezer until serving. This encourages rapid, even cooling. Reheat hot foods to 165 °F. Arrange and serve food on several small platters rather than on one large platter. Keep the rest of the food hot in the oven (set at 200-250 °F) or cold in the refrigerator until serving time. This way foods will be held at a safe temperature for a longer period of time. REPLACE empty platters rather than adding fresh food to a dish that already had food in it. Many people’s hands may have been taking food from the dish, which has also been sitting out at room temperature.

The Two-Hour Rule for Holiday Buffets
Holiday foods should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Keep track of how long foods have been sitting on the buffet table and discard anything there two hours or more.

Keep Hot Foods HOT And Cold Foods COLD
Hot foods should be held at 140 °F or warmer. On the buffet table you can keep hot foods hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays. Cold foods should be held at 40 °F or colder. Keep foods cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice. Otherwise, use small serving trays and replace them.

Foodborne Bacteria
Bacteria are everywhere but a few types especially like to crash parties. Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens and Listeria monocytogenes frequent people’s hands and steam tables. And unlike microorganisms that cause food to spoil, harmful or pathogenic bacteria cannot be smelled or tasted. Prevention is safe food handling.

If illness occurs, however, contact a health professional and describe the symptoms.

Staphylococcus aureus
Staphylococcus (“staph”) bacteria are found on our skin, in infected cuts and pimples, and in our noses and throats. They are spread by improper food handling. Prevention includes washing hands and utensils before preparing and handling foods and not letting prepared foods — particularly cooked and cured meats and cheese and meat salads — sit at room temperature more than two hours. Thorough cooking destroys “staph” bacteria but staphylococcal enterotoxin is resistant to heat, refrigeration and freezing.

Clostridium perfringens
Perfringens” is called the “cafeteria germ” because it may be found in foods served in quantity and left for long periods of time on inadequately maintained steam tables or at room temperature. Prevention is to divide large portions of cooked foods such as beef, turkey, gravy, dressing, stews and casseroles into smaller portions for serving and cooling. Keep cooked foods hot or cold, not lukewarm.

Listeria monocytogenes
Because Listeria bacteria multiply, although slowly, at refrigeration temperatures, these bacteria can be found in cold foods typically served on buffets. To avoid serving foods containing Listeria, follow “keep refrigerated” label directions and carefully observe “sell by” and “use by” dates on processed products, and thoroughly reheat frozen or refrigerated processed meat and poultry products before consumption.

Tips from Those in the Know

USDAThe United States Department of Agriculture,USDA has an extensive site for parents of preschool and elementary school age children featuring comprehensive nutrition plans, daily meal and snack plans for parents to reference and games that children can play that stress good eating habits. Go to:

http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/consumers/ages-stages/preschool-elementary-kids

USDA

Got a picky eater? The USDA has extensive information that can help parents get the picky eater to eat food necessary for good nutrition at

http://wicworks.nal.usda.gov/children/picky-eaters

Another great USDA site to visit for a personalized nutrition and physical activity plan, the  ability to track your foods and physical activities to see how they stack up and to get tips and support to help you make healthier choices and plan ahead is:

https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/default.aspx

 

Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS, wants all Americans to know about programs and resources to help children and parents curb obesity  including the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health’s We Can!! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition)® program.

Through public-private partnerships, safe places to play and nutritious food options are being made available in neighborhoods and schools across America. Exciting new programs include the Partnership for a Healthier America and Olympic Team USA’s commitment to provide 1.7 million kids the opportunity to participate in free and low cost physical activity programs offered by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USOC National Governing Bodies for sport, and others over the next year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released a new farm to school grant program designed to educate children about food sources, and increase the availability of locally sourced foods in schools.

obesityOver the past 30 years, the childhood obesity rate in America has almost tripled. According to the Centers for Disease Control,CDC, in 2010, approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years were already obese. Children and teenagers who are obese are more likely to become obese adults. Overweight and obese youth are at greater risk of developing serious adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

That is why HHS, with the President’s Council, supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s goal to end childhood obesity within a generation through her Let’s Move! program. Everyone has a role to play – parents and caregivers, school teachers and administrators, community leaders, local elected officials, after school programmers, and health care providers.

According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, children and adolescents aged 6–17 years should spend 60 minutes or more being physical active each day.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, released by HHS and USDA, provide nutritional guidance for Americans to promote good health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity. The guidelines recommend balancing calories with physical activity, and encourage Americans to consume more healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood, and to consume less sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined grains.

To learn more about National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month or for tips on how to help your kids lead healthy lifestyle visit http://www.fitness.gov

 

What Can You Eat for 100 Calories?

100The 100 calorie packs available in most major food markets can be a handy way to maintain snack portion control between meals.

The challenge, read the nutrition label and see what the salt, fat and carbohydrate intake is in this low calorie snack. It may be 100 calories, but it is not necessarily a healthy snack.

The site, fruits & veggies, more matters, at www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/healthy-weight-management, recently issued a 100 calorie list of foods that make for healthy and low calorie snacking. Here are their suggestions:

 100 Calorie Snacks

Tortilla Chips  – 3/4 c

Strawberries -  2 cups

Sliced Peppers -  2 cups

Pretzels -  1 ounce

Muffin  – 1 ounce (1 mini)

Lettuce, shredded -20 cups

Ice Cream (not premium) 3/8 cup

Fresh Blueberries  – 1 1/4 cup

Donut 3/8 -  whole

Cucumbers, sliced  – 7 cups

Chocolate Chip Cookies – 2-2inch cookies

Cherry Tomatoes -  4 cups

Cheese P-Nut Butter Snack Cracker  – 3

Cantaloupe Cubes – 2 cups

Canned Peaches (in juice) – 1 1/2 cup

Bagel -  1/4 of 5 oz. bagel

Baby Carrots – 2 cups

Apple Slices -  2 cups

American Cheese (thin slices) -2 slices

100% Vegetable Juice -2 cups (16 fluid ounces)

100% Orange Juice – 7 fluid oz.

Happy Snacking!

Removing Sugary Sodas is a Good Beginning, But…

sugaryWhile many schools have removed sugary sodas from the school vending machines and other points of purchase,  sugary fruit beverages and Gatorade-like drinks are still available in most schools.

According to the findings in a new study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation high-calorie drinks are the main source of dietary sugar among children. Making these drinks available at school can significantly increase students’ daily calorie intake.

The lead author of the study, Yvonne Terry-McElrath, a researcher from the University of Michigan and co-investigator with Bridging the Gap, a research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in a foundation news release, “Our study shows that, although schools are making progress in removing sugary drinks, far too many students still are surrounded by a variety of unhealthy beverages at school. We also know that the problem gets worse as students get older.”

The researchers surveyed more than 1,400 middle schools and more than 1,500 high schools to track beverages sold by these schools outside of meal programs over four academic years beginning in 2006. Specifically, they looked at places where students could buy high-calorie sodas, such as vending machines, a la carte lines in the cafeteria, school stores and snack bars.

The study, published Aug. 6 in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, found one in four public high school students could buy high-calorie soda during the 2010 school year. Four years earlier, sugary sodas were available to more than 50 percent of these students, the researchers said.

While this decrease in schools is encouraging, the investigators found many middle and high school students still have access to other sugary beverages, such as fruit drinks and sports drinks. In the 2010 school year, 63 percent of middle school students and 88 percent of high school students could buy some type of high-calorie drink at school.

The study also showed that while students’ access to higher-fat milk declined, in 2010 it remained available to 36 percent of middle school students and 48 percent of high school students.

C. Tracy Orleans, senior scientist at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said the progress being made to remove sugary sodas from schools is encouraging. “But while this study does have good news, it also shows that we’re not yet where we want to be,” Orleans said in the news release. “It’s critically important for the USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] to set strong standards for competitive foods and beverages to help ensure that all students across all grades have healthy choices at school.”