Injury-Free Outdoor Cooking

 cookingIt’s that time again, time to move cooking outdoors.

Before you do, please compare your outdoor cooking practices with what Safe Kids USA recommends for keeping outdoor cooking accident and injury-free.

Cooking on a Top Grill

  • Grills should only be used outdoors and at least 10 feet away from a house or any building.
  • Do not use the grill in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that can catch fire.
  • The grill should be placed well away from deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area by declaring a 3-foot “kid-free” safety zone around the grill.
  • Grills should be kept clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grill itself and in the trays below the grill.
  • Never leave a grill unattended.
  • Keep lighted cigarettes, matches, or open flames away from the grill.

Cooking on Charcoal Grills

  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the lit fire.
  • Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers. Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
  • Since charcoal produces CO fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.
  • Store charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

Cooking on Gas Grills

  • Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks.
  • If you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don’t attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when operating a gas grill.
  • Never start a fire with gasoline or other flammable products.

Cooking outside is a fun, warm -weather activity as long as you take safety precautions.

Happy Summer!

Source: Safe Kids USA

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Halloween Food Safety Tips

food

The Partnership for Food Safety Education (http://fightbac.org) offers the following tips for preventing foodbourne bacteria this Halloween:

  • Keep all perishable food chilled until serving time. These include, for example, finger sandwiches, cheese platters, cut fruit or tossed salads, cold pasta dishes with meat, poultry, or seafood, and cream pies or cakes with whipped-cream and cream-cheese frosting. Cold temperatures help keep most bacteria from multiplying.
  • To keep store-bought party trays cold, fill lids with ice and place trays on top.  Similarly, keep salads and other perishable items in bowls cold by nesting them in larger bowls of ice.
  • Arrange food on several small platters. Refrigerate platters of food until it is time to serve, and rotate food platters within two hours.
  • Bacteria will creep up on you if you let platters of food sit out for too long.  Don’t leave perishable goodies out for more than two hours at room temperature (1 hour in temperatures above 90°F).

  • When whipping up Halloween treats, don’t taste dough and batters that contain uncooked eggs.
  • Beware of  unpasteurized juice or cider that can contain harmful bacteria such as E.coli O157:H7 and Salmonella. Serve only pasteurized products at your Halloween party.
  • Remind kids (and adults too!) to wash their hands before and after eating to help prevent foodborne illness.
  • Bobbing for Apples – Try a new spin on bobbing for apples. Cut out lots of apples from red construction paper.  Write activities for kids to do on each apple, such as “say ABCs” or “do 5 jumping jacks”. Place a paper clip on each apple and put them in a large basket. Tie a magnet to a string or create a fishing pole with a dowel rod, magnet and yarn.  Let the children take turn “bobbing” with their magnet and doing the activity written on their apple.
  •  Give children a fresh apple for participating in your food safe version of bobbing for apples.

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Keeping Foodborne Illness Out of the Lunchbox

lunchboxTo help prevent what the USDA calls a serious public health threat…foodborne illness in the lunchbox; follow these six top tips for keeping foods safe.

  1. If you’re packing meats, eggs, yogurt or other perishable food, use at least two freezer packs. Harmful bacteria grow rapidly between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Juice boxes can provide another option: freeze some juice boxes overnight to use with at least one freezer pack. The frozen juice boxes will thaw by lunchtime.
  3. If there’s a refrigerator at school or work, find a space for your lunch. Remove the lid or open the bag so the cold air can circulate better.
  4. Use an insulated, soft-sided lunchbox or bag instead of a paper bag. Perishable food can spoil more quickly in a paper bag.
  5. For a hot lunch like soup, use an insulated container. Make sure the container remains tightly closed until lunchtime.
  6. And finally, throw out all leftover food, used packaging and paper bags.

Medline Plus, a service of the National Institutes of Health, reminds us that not all illness comes from the food. It can come from a lunchbox that is not properly cleaned, or from the area where the lunch was prepared. They ask that we please remember that:

  • A dirty lunchbox may contain bacteria that can make a youngster  sick.
  • A lunchbox picks up a lot of grime in a day.
  • Kids don’t always wash their hands before handling their lunchboxes and food.
  • It’s a good idea to put a small bottle of antibacterial gel with a tight-fitting lid in your child’s lunchbox. Your child can use the gel when there isn’t a chance to wash with soap and water before eating lunch.
  • Kids should avoid setting down their food on the table. Include a paper towel, a piece of wax paper, or even a small fabric place mat in your child’s lunchbox that can be washed at home to help keep food off surfaces that may have been used by a number of youth and adults.

When packing a lunchbox:

  • Start with clean hands, a clean work surface and a clean lunchbox.
  • Disinfect kitchen surfaces, such as kitchen equipment and refrigerator handles, regularly.
  • Also clean cutting boards, knives, dish-drying towels and sponges or dish cloths daily.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before packing them

 

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Keeping Tailgating Safe…Tips from NSF International

NSF International wants Americans to enjoy tailgating before and after the game.

I’s that time again…time for watching live sports and tailgating.

Here are some tips NSF International wants you to keep in mind when tailgating:

1. Avoid false starts.
Bringing a meat thermometer to the game will help you avoid taking food off the grill too soon and serving it undercooked to your fellow fans. You can’t rely on your eyes alone, so use an NSF International -certified food thermometer to make sure foods are cooked to the proper minimum internal temperature:

  • Whole or ground poultry — 165º F
  • Ground meats (other than poultry) — 160º F
  • Fresh fin fish — 145º F
  • Fresh whole (not ground) pork, beef, veal — 145º F with a three-minute rest time

2. Put your marinade on the sidelines.
When preparing for the big day, keep your marinade in bounds. If you need some for basting, do not use marinade that has come into contact with raw meat. Instead, set aside a small amount of prepared marinade in a separate dish and bring it to the game.

3. Play defense.
NSF International suggests taking defensive measures to protect you and your family against germs by:

  • Bringing wet wipes and hand sanitizer to the game. Make sure you sanitize your hands frequently, especially after putting raw meat on the grill and before eating.
  • Bringing two sets of utensils and dishes if grilling raw meat — one for use with raw foods, the other for cooked foods.
  • Having a plastic bag handy to store dirty utensils or dishes that have touched raw meats to prevent spreading germs in a cooler or in your car after the pre-game meal.

4. Prepare for kickoff.
Cooking outside makes it challenging to avoid cross-contamination. Prepare for the big day by packing three coolers: one for your raw meats, another with your pre-made foods (e.g. potato salad, vegetables) and a third for your beverages. Pack the food at the bottom of the cooler and the ice on top to better insulate the food and keep it at a safe temperature of 40° F. Pack beverages in a separate cooler to avoid frequent opening of the coolers containing perishable foods.

5. Don’t let your food go into overtime.

While it’s tempting to display your game day food spread, it should not be left out for more than two hours (or one hour on days over 90° F) to avoid bacterial growth. Keep perishable foods in coolers to help keep them at safe temperatures as long as you can, and don’t take them out until right before it’s time to eat.

6. Create a neutral zone.

Come prepared with trash bags and create a neutral area to dispose of garbage, empty cans or bottles, and unwanted leftovers. Keep your tailgating area neat and avoid placing glass bottles on the ground where they could be tripped on or broken. When game time is over, throw out your garbage on your way out of the stadium if possible rather than leaving it in your car where bacteria can grow and spread to other surfaces in your car.

“Tailgating is a fun way to celebrate before watching your favorite team play, but can be ruined if you don’t follow the rules of food safety,” said Luptowski. “These tips will keep food poisoning at bay, and help make the pre-game experience a safe and happy one.”

Additional food safety information can be found by visiting NSF International at http://www.nsf.org/consumer/newsroom/kit_food_safety.asp or contacting the NSF Consumer Affairs Office at info@nsf.org.

About NSF International: NSF International (www.nsf.org) has been testing and certifying products for safety, health and the environment for nearly 70 years. As an independent, public health and safety organization, NSF international is committed to protecting and improving human health on a global scale. NSF protects families by testing and certifying thousands of consumer goods each year, including kitchen products and appliances, personal care products, dietary and sport supplements, bottled water, toys, pool and spa equipment, water treatment systems, plumbing fixtures and many other products used in homes every day. Look for the NSF mark on products you purchase.

Operating in more than 150 countries, NSF International is committed to protecting families worldwide and is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety and Indoor Environment. In addition, NSF also and certifies organic food and personal care products through Quality Assurance International (QAI).

 

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Food Handlers Cause Most Food Poisoning Cases

Eating out is supposed to be enjoyable. Yet, sometimes the food we eat in a restaurant makes us sick.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that the Norovirus spread in restaurants accounts for two-thirds of all food poisoning outbreaks. The Norovirus, the leading cause of food poisoning outbreaks in the United States, sickens at least 20 million Americans a year with vomiting and diarrhea.

They CDC clarified that the Norovirus, often referred to as the “cruise ship virus,” is more often caused by infected restaurant workers than outbreaks on cruise ships, which only accounted for 1% of the more than 1,000 food-borne outbreaks examined by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most outbreaks are the result of infected kitchen employees touching food with their bare hands, according to a CDC report. Restaurant workers need better hygiene practices if these outbreaks are to be prevented.

For the report, CDC researchers looked at Norovirus outbreaks caused by contaminated food from 2009 to 2012 and included in CDC’s National Outbreak Reporting System. Restaurants accounted for nearly two-thirds of the outbreaks, and catering or banquet facilities accounted for 17 percent. Among 520 of the outbreaks, food workers were implicated in 70 percent of the cases. Of these, 54 percent involved food workers touching ready-to-eat foods with their bare hands, according to the report.

Among 324 outbreaks in which a specific food was implicated, more than 90 percent of the contamination occurred during final preparation, such as making a sandwich with raw and already cooked ingredients. Another 75 percent occurred in foods eaten raw, such as leafy greens.

Tips for Preventing Food Poisoning When Eating Out

  • Be careful of Salsa – The Center for Disease and Control says that salsa and guacamole are increasingly causing food poisoning since they are often made in large batches and not always refrigerated properly.
  • Avoid Fish on Monday – If the chef bought  fish for Saturday night and didn’t sell out, then by Monday night, it is not so fresh.
  • Check Out the Staff– Cooks and staff should not be wiping their hands on their uniform (which harbors bacteria that can spread to food). Dirty aprons are not a good sign.
  • Avoid Buffets and Salad Bars – The Food Poison Journal puts it bluntly: eat at a salad bar at your own risk.  The Journal says this is one of the main places people get sick in a restaurant. Food in salad bars and buffets are rarely kept to the correct temperature. Also, lots of people touch both the food and the utensils.
  • Beware of Specials – In high-end restaurants, specials can be great fresh meat or fish prepared using a unique recipe. In low-end restaurants, specials are sometimes a way to “fancy up”  meat or fish that’s been sitting around awhile so they can get rid of it.
  • Smell Your Food – Your food has a funny odor or taste, send it back.
  •  Chain Restaurants are Safer– According to MarketWatch, you’re statistically safer if you eat at a chain restaurant as they have much to lose if their diners get sick. Chains have the  resources to help manage food safety, as well as cleanliness standards that employees must maintain
  • Send it back – If your meat is under-cooked, send it back.
  • Be aware of the temperature of your food – If the food is supposed to be hot, it should be steaming. If cold, you should be able to feel the coolness. Lukewarm anything is not safe.

 

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