Summer Food Safety Quiz

Summer just seems to scream “let’s eat outdoors!” It’s important to remember that these opportunities for picnics, patio dining, and special summer foods also bring different problems and situations into the food safety picture. Here’s a quick quiz that can be used as a refresher for food safety in the summer.

Summer Food Safety QuizAre the following questions true or false?

  1. The safest homemade ice cream is made with a cooked custard.
  2. It’s safe to eat hot dogs that have been stored unopened in the refrigerator for up to ten days.
  3. Because it’s in a picnic cooler, it’s safe to leave food on the picnic table in a sunny location for over five hours.
  4. This is a great time to marinate meat for the barbeque. Since most of these marinades contain acids, which slows bacteria growth, it’s OK to allow the meat and marinade to “steep” at room temperature like the recipe indicates.
  5. Since it’s already been cooked, it’s OK to leave fried chicken set out all afternoon at the family reunion picnic.

Are you ready for the answers? Here they are!

1. TRUE. If you’re making homemade ice cream, look for a recipe that uses cooked custard. If you must use a recipe that calls for uncooked eggs, get pasteurized eggs or egg whites. Why? Well, there can be salmonella bacteria in raw, uncooked eggs and just because a food has been kept cold or frozen doesn’t eliminate the risk.
2. TRUE. Check the expiration date on those hot dogs. Hot dogs should be used or frozen within three days of the sell-by or use-by date on the package. An unopened package of hot dogs can stay safely in your refrigerator until the expiration date (or two weeks if there is no date). An opened bag of hot dogs should be eaten within a week of opening. Never eat hot dogs that have a cloudy liquid in the bag.
3. FALSE. The “two hour rule” changes to the “one hour rule” when temperatures creep up above 90 degrees F. This means that you should not allow food to sit out at room temperature for longer than one hour. Hot temperatures are just right for allowing the bacteria in food to multiply to numbers that could make people sick. When everyone is done eating, get that food quickly into coolers or a refrigerator.  When storing food in coolers, use lots of ice. It’s hard to keep the temperature of food in coolers below 40 degrees. Five hours may be too long to ensure that food is safe. In that case, don’t eat or save those leftovers! It may seem a waste to throw out half a bowl of potato salad or sliced fruit, but there may be several problems with it in addition to the uncertain temperatures (i.e. bugs, lots of people around — did they double dip?). Unless you are absolutely sure of the safety of the food, pitch any leftovers.
4. FALSE. Marinate your meats in the refrigerator. Yes, most recipes for marinades contain an acid. This may slow but does not stop bacteria growth. Just because the recipe says to allow it to “steep” at room temperature doesn’t mean that it’s safe. Remember, not every celebrity chef or recipe developer has had a food safety or food science class.
5. FALSE. Remember that “one hour rule” for large buckets of fried chicken or plates of burgers and hot dogs. Just because a food item has been cooked does not make it immune to bacteria growth.

While the living can be easy in the summer months, food safety takes a little more effort and planning.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

There are lots of other amazing summer resources in the Nutrition Education Store! We’re here to help you look your very best, right now!

PowerPoint: Healthy Vacation How-Tos

Food Safety Poster

Surrender to the ice cream temptation

Summer time and the living isn’t always easy.  Hot weather seems to cry out “time to stop at the ice cream shop.”  Ice cream is a great treat, but it can also be a dilemma for those that are mindful about a healthful diet.

The number of calories in that ice cream treat can vary widely and range from about 100 calories to over  500 depending on portion size and what goes in and on your ice cream.

Here are 10 ways to make trade-offs that keep you in the fun without the guilt or blowing your calorie or fat budgets:

  1. Pick a cake cone instead of a waffle cone (this could save you about 100 calories). Have your ice cream in a cup and avoid the cone all together.
  2. Go for a child’s size, one scoop or a small cone instead of a “regular”  which is frequently 2 or more large scoops.
  3. Watch the flavors you pick. Plain flavors such as vanilla and strawberry usually have less calories than the fancier choices.
  4. Limit the add-ins. Obviously those with added chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, cookie crumbs and candies have more calories.
  5. Select ices or sherbets instead of ice cream.  These usually have less or no fat. Greek yogurt bars are pre-portioned and a great treat, too.
  6. Look for light, reduced fat or fat-free  ice cream, since they generally have less fat (and calories) than regular ice cream.
  7. Many soft-serv cones are lower in fat and calories than the hand-dipped ice cream varieties.
  8. Don’t assume that a frozen yogurt is more healthful or contains less fat or calories—be a good consumer and read labels or ask for nutritional information.
  9. Instead of going out, make ice cream or sorbet at home.  It is a fun family project if you have an ice cream maker. Plus you won’t be tempted to keep gallons on hand. Consider that a gallon of ice cream can be over 5000 calories! Peach Berry Crush Frozen Fruit Pop Cups
  10. How about substituting frozen fruit instead?  I posted about the Yonanna machine  a while back that takes frozen fruit and turns it into an ice cream-like product.

It isn’t always easy when the gang is screaming for ice cream.  As we all know healthful eating is a matter of moderation.   I have a friend who says that once or twice a summer she goes out and  gets a super cone with all the frills, but it’s not a daily or weekly practice.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University