Halloween Food Safety Tips


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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SanitizingToys and Things Kids Touch

In a fact sheet put out by the Partnership for Food Safety Education, www.fightbac.org, they talk about sanitizing surfaces that children frequently touch such as tables, chairs, high chairs and toys.

The Partnership message states that dangerous germs such as, hepatitis and rotavirus  can live on surfaces for several weeks. If someone touches these surfaces, germs can get on the person’s hands and then be transferred into the mouth, to other people, or to food. That’s why it’s so important to clean and sanitize frequently-touched surfaces.

Cleaning and sanitizing aren’t the same. Cleaning, removing dirt and debris, comes before sanitizing. A sanitizing solution is then used to kill germs. Here’s a “recipe” for a safe and effective sanitizing solution: combine 1 tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of water in a clean bucket.

According to the Partnership for Food Safety Education the best way of cleaning and santizing is as follows:

  • Clean surfaces and  high chair trays, sinks, kitchen counters, and large plastic or rubber toys, cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot water and soap and thoroughly rinse.
  • Apply the sanitizing solution and allow to air dry.

  • Wash high chair trays with hot water and soap after every use and dry thoroughly with a single use paper towel.
  • Cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and small plastic  toys can also be run through a dishwasher at 170 °F to disinfect them.

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Heart Smart Tips from the FDA

heartMore women die from heart disease than from any other cause. In fact, one in four women in the United States dies from heart disease, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

“The risk of heart disease increases for everyone as they age,” says cardiologist Shari Targum, M.D., a medical officer at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “For women, the risk goes up after menopause, but younger women can also develop heart disease.”

FDA offers many resources to help educate women of all ages about the safe use of FDA-approved drugs and devices for the treatment and prevention of heart disease. FDA has fact sheets, videos, and other web-based tools on heart disease and conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure that may increase a woman’s risk for heart disease.

FDA created the “Heart Health for Women” site to connect women to FDA resources to support heart-healthy living. Visit the website at: www.fda.gov/womenshearthealth

“I encourage women of all ages to look to FDA for resources to help them reduce their risk for heart disease and make informed decisions about their health,” says Marsha Henderson, director of the Office of Women’s Health at FDA.

Heart Health for Women

When you think about heart disease, you probably imagine heart attacks and chest pain. But women need to know that heart health is about more than just heart attacks. Women need to take steps to reduce their risk for heart disease:

  • Manage conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol that can increase your risk for heart disease.
  • Learn to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack in women, including nausea, anxiety, an ache or feeling of tightness in the chest, and pain in the upper body.
  • Use the Nutrition Label to make heart-healthy food choices.
  • Daily use of aspirin is not right for everyone. Talk with a health care professional before you use aspirin as a way to prevent heart attacks.
  • If you smoke, try to quit. See our booklet to learn more about medicines to help you quit.
  • Talk to a health professional about whether you can participate in a clinical trial for a heart medication or procedure. Visit the FDA Patient Network to learn more about clinical trials.

Menopause and Heart Health

“Menopause does not cause heart disease,” says Targum. “But the decline in estrogen after menopause may be one of several factors in the increase in heart disease risk.” Other risks, such as weight gain, may also increase around the time of menopause.

Hormone therapy is used to treat some of the problems women have during menopause. “However, the American Heart Association recommends against using post-menopausal estrogen hormone replacement therapy to prevent heart disease,” says Targum.

Make a Plan, Take Action

Work with your health care team to make a plan for your heart health. Whatever your regimen, make sure to keep a list of your medicines and bring it with you to all of your appointments.


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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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