Keep Your Holidays Food Safe

Sometimes I wonder what happens to common sense during the holidays.

I know things get hectic, but many people seem to “throw caution to the wind” when it comes to food safety.  Over the next few weeks, you’ll have many opportunities to enjoy food, so please keep food safety in mind.

This should be especially true when entertaining. Some of your guests may have special needs. Remember that the young, the elderly, pregnant, and immune-suppressed may be more susceptible to getting foodborne illness. Don’t take risks with their health by serving potentially dangerous foods such as raw eggs, raw fish, undercooked poultry, or rare ground beef. Think about alternative foods or recipes that may be safer.

Just because it’s a holiday and your refrigerator is full does not mean that the “two-hour rule” isn’t in effect. Food should not be allowed to sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Two hours is enough time for bacteria to multiply to the quantity that could cause foodborne illnesses. This is cumulative too. If you leave the leftovers on the dining room table for one hour, then later leave them out on the counter for 30 minutes to make sandwiches, you will only have a half-hour window left.

On New Year’s Eve, many parties start in the early evening and don’t end until well after the New Year. That could be four or five hours and way past the safe time for leaving that food set out at room temperature.  If you can’t keep cold foods below 41 degree F or hot foods above 135 degrees F, plan to replace them with fresh at least every two hours.

Here are a few other basic things to keep in mind:

  • Wash your hands frequently when preparing and serving food.
  • Get food into the refrigerator as soon as possible after a meal. Don’t leave it out for guests coming later or to make sandwiches.
  • Don’t put potentially-hazardous food in the garage, porch or sunroom.  While these areas may feel cool, they may not keep food below 41 degrees F. Some cut fruits and vegetables (including sliced tomatoes, leafy greens and melons) fall into this category, too.
  • Use small serving dishes on buffet lines. When that dish is empty, then replace it with another small dish of the same food instead of setting out the entire bowl or mixing “fresh” food in with the “old.”
  • Take care with desserts that contain potentially hazardous foods such as whipped cream, custards, creamy cheeses, and eggs. Keep these foods in the refrigerator below 41 degrees.

A little care and planning ahead can make this a food-safe holiday season.  You want the memories to be of happy times and not of a foodborne illness or trip to the emergency room.

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

Nutrition Posters for the Workplace

My team and I have created tons of posters over the years, and some of my very favorite ones teach lessons that are important to showcase in the workplace.

We have posters that are designed to bring “better numbers like blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI” or to motivate in a fun way like the food art posters. There are also ones that teach great nutrition lessons and promote positive reinforcement and education.

Let’s take a tour through some of the best options, shall we?

Top Heart Posters:

Top BMI Poster:

Best Nutrition Lessons:

Favorite Motivational Posters:

And of course there is our entire collection of over 150 posters. Which ones will best brighten up your workspace?

And, as a special bonus because I love ya, here’s a free copy of the printable PDF handout that accompanies the Fabulous Fruits and Vegetables poster.

fruitsandvegetablesposter

The #1 Way to Prevent Foodborne Illness

Wash Your HandsYou’ve probably seen these signs posted in public restrooms — in fact, health departments in most states require them for restaurant and food service workers.

What signs am I talking about?

The handwashing signs. You know, the ones that state: “Employees must wash their hands before going back to work.”

While I do feel strongly that all employees must wash their hands after using the restroom, I really wonder if the signs make a difference. Would you remember to wash your hands after seeing this sign if you weren’t inclined to do it anyway?

That said, if these signs remind just one worker, it’s a plus.

But now I want to talk about a different sign I saw recently. On the back of the door of a fast food restaurant, I found a sign that said “Our employees wash their hands… and so should you!”

YEAH!

Handwashing is considered the number one way to prevent foodborne illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (aka the CDC) call handwashing a “do-it-yourself” vaccine that you can do to reduce the spread of illness.

Regular handwashing, particularly before and after certain activities (like going to the restroom) is one of the best ways to remove germs and prevent the spread of germs to others.

You see, human feces are a source of germs like salmonella, E.coli, and norovirus. These pathogens can get onto hands after people use the restroom. Research by Franks et al. in 1998 showed that a single gram of human feces can contain one trillion germs. If not washed off, these germs can contaminate surfaces like tabletops, door knobs, and handrails, along with getting into food and drinks.

YUCK!

Now I know that this isn’t rocket science, or even new information. I was recently teaching food safety at a local restaurant and they showed me an old sign in their employee restroom. They said it has been there since 1958, before they owned the restaurant. It’s still hanging next to the current version of the handwashing sign.  Perhaps the two signs together will at least catch the attention of their workers.
I like what this older sign say “State law and COMMON DECENCY… require that every food handler wash his hands after a visit to a toilet…” and so should you.

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

Help spread the word about the importance of handwashing with this fantastic PDF handout!

Wash Your Hands

And here are a few more health and wellness resources, straight from the Nutrition Education Store!

Flu Prevention Poster

Food Safety Video

Healthy Kitchen Poster

Behind the Scenes: New Cooking and Prediabetes Posters

Hey, do you remember that Chop Test article you saw a while back? How about that Prediabetes Guide?

If you do, then you’re not alone. Lots of people reached out and told me that those were two of their favorite posts. So many, in fact, that I decided to take those posts to the next level and turn them into nutrition education materials.

The Chop Test offers a simple and memorable guide to cooking with vegetables, so I decided that the key points would make a marvelous poster that could be hung in a commercial kitchen, posted in a health fair booth, propped up for a cooking demonstration, or incorporated into a nutrition display.

This guide to properly preparing vegetables is as versatile as it is useful. With a simple test to tell which kind of vegetable is best for which cooking style, this bright and informative poster will help your audience gain kitchen confidence while introducing new vegetables into their eating plans.

Will this poster make your life easier? Learn more about it!

Now let’s change gears and take a closer look at the new Prediabetes poster.

The statistics on prediabetes are astounding. My hope is that we can help our practitioners help people avoid diabetes entirely — heading it off before prediabetes turns into full-blown diabetes. This poster offers an excellent screening tool that is done in an engaging infographic style. With information on what prediabetes is, how it affects the body, what symptoms it displays, and what the average consumer can do to reduce his or her risk of prediabetes (or treat the condition itself), this poster offers a bright and simple way to educate your audience. Throw it in a display, use it to pep up a shared space, add it to a wellness fair booth, or hang it in your office — it will be a great educational resource for whatever you need.

This poster uses colorful graphics, simple sentences, and clear diagrams to appeal to a wide range of learning styles, promoting participant engagement while boosting information retention. It draws its information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Diabetes Association (ADA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), so you know that the research that backs it is supported by the latest peer-reviewed science.

Intrigued by this poster? Get the details today!

And, because I love ya, I want to share the handout that accompanies the Chop Test poster. Here it is, in all it’s glory! Download the free PDF today!

Chop Test Handout

We’re here to help you look your very best, right now! So which resource will make your life easier?

Nutrition Bootcamp: PowerPoint and Handout Set

Chop Test Poster

Elementary Nutrition Workbook