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Food Safety


Food Safety During the Holidays

Did you know that food poisoning can be more that just an upset stomach? It is actually a very serious public health threat in America. So serious that the CDC estimates that approximately 1 in every 6 Americans (that’s roughly 48 million people!) could end up suffering from food-borne illnesses this year. With about 128,000 of those ending hospitalizations and sadly, an estimated 3,000 deaths. I don’t know about you but those numbers are terrifying. So what can you do to protect yourself from food-borne illnesses? The Food Safe Families Campaign (a partnership on behalf of the Ad Council, USDA, FDA and CDC) would like to help parents protect their families from food-borne illness during the upcoming holidays.

One of the best things about the holidays is spending time with the family. And what do families and friends do when they get together? They eat! I always stress about create my menu but once it comes time to cooking I go into a zone and some how, some way I create  huge meals for every one to enjoy. But gathering around the table is not the only time we need to be vigilant in how we prepare food for our families, it is an every day thing and one that should never be taken lightly. Today I wanted to share with you some tips on how to keep your families food safe, during the holidays and year round.

Brown paper bags are a thing of the past. There is a big trend right now called the Bento lunchbox. If you aren’t aware of them, I highly recommend them. They are awesome because they have little compartments to keep your foods separated. Not only is this great for picky eaters that don’t like their foods touching, but it’s also great to making sure there is no possible food contamination from wholes in bags or food falling out onto the floor. And you can get super creative with them, it’s a bit of an addiction so be prepared if you buy a set.

Here’s a few school lunch tips that may be new to you or you may know some of them.
Tip #1: If the lunch you’re packing contains perishable food items like cold cut meats, eggs and yogurt, make sure to pack it with freezer packs or keep it otherwise chilled.  Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly in the “Danger Zone” — the temperatures between 40 and 140 °F (4.4 °C and 60 °C). So, perishable food transported without an ice source won’t stay safe long.
Tip #2: Frozen juice boxes can also be used as freezer packs. Freeze juice boxes overnight and use as freezer packs. By lunchtime, the juice should be thawed and ready to drink!
Tip #3: Pack lunches in an insulated, soft-sided lunch bag. Lunches with perishable food items can be unsafe to eat by lunchtime if packed in an old-fashioned brown paper bag.
Tip #4: If there is a refrigerator at school, tell your child to keep their lunch inside. But leave the lid of the lunchbox or bag open so that cold air can better circulate and keep the food cold.
Tip #5:  After lunch, discard all leftover food, used food packaging, and paper bags. Do not reuse packaging because it could contaminate other food and cause food-borne illness.


Check out How to Pack a Safe & Satisfying School Lunch by Food Safe Campaign (Ad Council, USDA, HHS) on Snapguide. 

For more information on food safety and have access to an online help center be sure to check out They have a plethora of information on preventing food-borne illnesses, in both English and Spanish. Or if it is easier for you, you can call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline.  

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Food safety and common myths debunked

Being a (newly) working Mom of three little one’s dinner time is not always easy peasy. I try my hardest to plan out our meals so my children will have home cooked food every night. But planning it out doesn’t always mean that it will happen. Long days, cranky kids, tired Mommy can equal me looking for a fast fix. And by fast I mean using the microwave. While it is easy it’s not always better.

Today I want to talk about a few food myths with you all and how to be safe in preparing food for your family.

MYTH:  “If I microwave food, the microwaves kill the bacteria, so the food is safe.”

Have you heard that statement before? I have and I have never understood why someone would say that. I mean yeah it heats up your food really fast BUT do they not think about exactly how is it that it is heating up their food and are you sure it’s even cooking it all the way?

Fact: Harmful bacteria may remain harmful if food heats unevenly.

Bacteria doesn’t just up and disappear on it’s own. You need to ensure that you are following the directions of the food that you’re preparing in the microwave. You also need to take precautions such as washing food if it needs it, stirring food occasionally while cooking, rotating your food while cooking to make sure that the food is being cooked throughout.

MYTH:  “I don’t need to use a food thermometer.  I can tell when my food is cooked by looking at it or checking the temperature with my finger.”

FACT: YOU NEED TO USE A FOOD THERMOMETER. Color, texture, and steaming are NOT indicators that a food is safe to eat. The only sure way to know food is safely cooked is to use a food thermometer.

HELLO? Really? This one should be a no brainer. I know when you are pressed for time and rushing around trying to get dinner ready sometimes it’s the most important things that we overlook. This should not be one of them. I never ever cook pork without my handy dandy thermometer. I have read that you can tell just by looking at the juices but for me that isn’t enough for me to feel comfortable. I want to make sure my pork is fully cooked so I am not feeding undercooked meat to my family and risking their health. The great thing about meat thermometers is they are fairly inexpensive. So the next time you go to the store pick up one, or two, or five. Keep them in a drawer next to your stove so they are readily available next time you cook meat.

Below is a handy dandy printout for you. Print it out and hang it on your fridge for quick reference while cooking food for your family. If you’re like me and cooking is a passion, one that you plan/hope to pass down to your children, you might like to be educated in making sure your cooking is doing more good then harm, then you might want to check out Food Safety and Fightback to educate yourself on popular food myths and safety.