USDA Offers Summer Food Safety Tips In Advance of Memorial Day Weekend

foodWarmer temperatures call for extra attention to food safety when cooking and eating outdoors.

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to summer, and many Americans will celebrate with cookouts, camping, road trips and other activities that involve food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is reminding families to take extra care not to let foodborne bacteria, which grows more quickly in hot weather, ruin the fun.

“This Memorial Day weekend and all summer long, I encourage families to get outside and enjoy our natural resources, national parks and forests, and the variety of food America’s farmers are able to provide,” said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. “It’s important to remember that bacteria grow faster in the same warm temperatures that people enjoy, so extra care needs to be taken to prevent food poisoning when preparing meals away from home. USDA reminds everyone to use a food thermometer, and take advantage of resources like our FoodKeeper app to help with any food handling questions.”

The USDA recently launched its FoodKeeper mobile app, which contains specific guidance on more than 400 food and beverage items, including safe cooking recommendations for meat, poultry and seafood products.

The app provides information on how to store food and beverages to maximize their freshness and quality. This will help keep products fresh longer than if they were stored improperly, which can happen more often during hot summer days. The application is available for free on Android and Apple devices.

Due to a variety of factors, including warmer temperatures, foodborne illness increases in summer. To help Americans stay healthy and safe, USDA offers the following food safety recommendations.

Bringing food to a picnic or cookout:
• Use an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. Frozen food can also be used as a cold source.
• Foods that need to be kept cold include raw meat, poultry, and seafood; deli and luncheon meats or sandwiches; summer salads (tuna, chicken, egg, pasta, or seafood); cut up fruit and vegetables; and perishable dairy products.
• A full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one. When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter.
• Avoid opening the cooler repeatedly so that your food stays colder longer.
Cooking on the grill:
• Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat and ready-to-eat items like vegetables or bread.
• Keep perishable food cold until it is ready to cook.
• Use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry are cooked thoroughly to their safe minimum internal temperatures
• Beef, Pork, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 °F with a 3 minute rest time
• Ground meats: 160 °F
• Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165 °F
• Always use a fresh, clean plate and tongs for serving cooked food. Never reuse items that touched raw meat or poultry to serve the food once it is cooked.
Serving food outdoors:
• Perishable food should not sit out for more than two hours. In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should NEVER sit out for more than one hour.
• Serve cold food in small portions, and keep the rest in the cooler. After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served – at 140 °F or warmer.
• Keep hot food hot by setting it to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook.

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Fun Ways to Keep Children Engaged This Summer

The following post is from Iris Yuan, an Education Consultant at Tutorspree.com, a marketplace for high-quality tutors across the country. Tutors at Tutorspree.com are highly-educated, experienced people who love what they’re doing. For more information, follow @Tutorspree on Twitter or e-mail iris@tutorspree.com. 

Helping children have fun does not mean they can’t be engaged, participating, and learning about the world around them. Below, we share tips and quotes from experienced tutors who’ve worked with children over the summer.

Juliette, a Spanish tutor in New York, says cooking is a great way to both learn and have fun. “Stash your children in the kitchen. Make up some at home cooking projects. There are many cookbooks out there that have recipes appropriate for children to help with and suited to their tastes as well.

Not only does cooking teach a life-long skill, it teaches children how to follow directions, be patient, organized, and clean up after themselves. It also makes children feel great to see that they can create something delicious! Furthermore, if children ever express being dissatisfied with the meals you prepare them, you can remind them about all that goes into creating a meal for a family. In order to make this type of project into a full day’s activity, first let your children make a list of necessary ingredients for the chosen recipe, then go to the market together with the children, and have them help you collect the groceries. This may even be a good opportunity to teach about prices and how to select what’s best.”

Another tip to getting young children interested in learning is to take library and museum trips together.

children

Many museums have kid-friendly areas with interactive activities. Your child may naturally be drawn to a certain area or subject, which you can build on later in the summer. Meanwhile, most libraries hold story times that are age-appropriate. When you’re at the library, be sure to show interest in the books yourself. Find a corner for quiet reading time and read to them, but also read to yourself, so that your child can learn by example.

Suzie, an experienced English tutor on the East Coast, tells us that “reading is easy. It’s portable. And maybe best of all, it’s subtle, sneaky learning. You learn while you aren’t even aware of it. Not only can it be a diversion on the beach, an alternative to “Boring! Not that again!?” TV, or a mental vacation on a hot afternoon, but reading also exposes new vocabulary, offers a variety of sentence structures, and painlessly proffers a proliferation of punctuation. All this without tests, worksheets, or quizzes.”

Finally, if learning school-related material is what you’re looking for, try in-home tutoring and teach some material yourself (but keep it fun!).

Aaron, a past Teach for America corps member, has been teaching for over ten years. He suggests that a great way to help children learn better is by using “positive sandwiches” when giving criticism. This means giving praise first before mentioning areas of improvement, and following up with another positive comment. “When feedback is ‘sandwiched’ between positive comments, problematic reactions are less likely,” says Aaron. “Learning doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. I also use funky colored pens or paper, stickers, jokes, and laughter in my lessons.”

Summertime alternatives to TV and video games are vast and many. Taking children out on trips, such as those mentioned above, and livening up the household with cooking and reading are just some of the ways to keep the summer brain drain at bay.

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You’re Invited to Showcase

The “Can Do” Street Mall Showcase is about sharing! It’s about adults sharing with one another about what young children enjoy and what can boost their enthusiasm for learning.

If you have a program, curriculum, activity, sport, game, software,  camp or resources for children 3-7 years, including children with special needs, now is the time to showcase it in the mall on “Can Do Street.”

There is no fee to showcase.

It is a free feature designed to give parents, teachers and other adults involved in child development the opportunity to see what is available for young children and to replicate what is suitable for their child, school or community. Every submission will credit the person responsible for the submission and include an active link to that person’s website, blog, or social media site.

Eligible showcase  materials include but are not limited to:

Programs: recreation, education, sports,  arts, music, computer, cooking, gardening, martial arts, knitting, sewing, quilting

Curriculum: academics, recreation, the arts, life skills, character and values education

Sports: all age-appropriate sports, intro to sports appropriate for elementary school upper grades

Resources for children with special needs

Showcase formats: Video, UTube, PowerPoint presentation, pictorial display with written narrative,  interactive programs, games, audio/graphic presentations

Submissions to the showcase are reviewed for suitability of content. They will be posted as received and reviewed. We welcome submissions from  individuals, schools and organizations. For more information, or to get your questions answered, please email jeanc@candostreet.com.

The Showcase is about adults sharing what enriches the lives of young children. So…please showcase  and share!

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