It’s Time to Pitch the Old Bird

As promised, we’ve been working hard on getting together some information on Food Safety! Let’s be honest, how many days after Thanksgiving did you continue enjoying those holiday leftovers? Some of you probably have them packed for lunch today! Well, I’ve got some disheartening news for you… TUESDAY was ‘Throw Away your Leftovers Day’. That’s right, Tuesday… as in TWO days ago! So, if you haven’t yet, stop reading this and go throw away your leftovers. It’s okay… we’ll wait until you get back!

Okay, now that you’re back, let’s talk about why you shouldn’t still be eating your Thanksgiving leftovers! BACTERIA! So often, we think of bacteria when we see mold growing, or brown spots appearing on fruits and vegetables. But, the truth is that bacteria grow on so many foods while you can’t see, smell or taste it. You’ll have no idea what type of viruses or parasites that you are putting in your body. These bacteria can cause very serious foodborne illnesses, especially in children, the elderly and those with weak immune systems. So, what do you think? Is it really worth it to clean up every piece of that leftover turkey or pumpkin pie?

So, did you skip that last opportunity to go throw away your leftovers? Now is your chance… It’s not too late! To learn more about food safety, and keeping your family safe, be sure to visit www.4DayThrowAway.org. Plus, as always, you can visit the Food Safety section of the NCES website.

We want to hear from you! How long do you continue eating leftovers after the holidays? Share your response here at WordPress, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Here is a cute video to remind you of the 4 Day Throw Away rule!


Don’t Get the Sugar Scares!

Halloween is here! The most dreaded holiday for dentists and dietitians across the country! But, it’s nothing a little education can’t fix, since the holiday has the potential to be a lot of fun for kids of all ages. All of the unique costumes give kids an opportunity to show off their creative abilities. Then, they go door-to-door ‘trick or treating’ for some sugary snacks! Many people have already begun changing this tradition by passing out more health conscious items, including stickers, granola bars and even fruit! But, how do you keep your kids safe from those ghouls and goblins that still pass out sickening sweet treats? We’ve put together a list of the top things to do with all that candy so your children don’t spend the entire month of November amped up on a sugar high. (As with everything, it’s important to remember that moderation is key! Don’t feel like you have to take it ALL away!)

  • Donate to your Dentist: Obviously, you don’t want to be that parent that gives away all of your children’s hard earned candy. So, have them set aside their absolute favorites. Then, find a local dentist who will trade you for the leftovers. Many dentists have items that they will trade your children for their candy.
  • Put it on Ice: Sit down with your kids and pick out all the chocolate. Then, throw it in the freezer. This way, your kids can enjoy their Halloween treats all year long! Throw away the rest… or you can always trade the dentist!
  • Take it to Work: Although no one person needs to be consuming all that sugar, spreading it out amongst your co-workers will keep your kids healthier. Plus, you’ll probably be a big hit around the office.
  • Sell It: There are many organizations out there that will purchase your leftover Halloween candy. Some of them even take what they purchase and send it to our troops so they can enjoy the sweet treats. Try searching your area for locations you can take your Halloween stash and sell it.

As you can see, there are many options for keeping all that candy out of your little one’s tummy. A little bit of Halloween fun can go a long way. So, be sure to take this opportunity to teach your children about healthy habits and using self-control when digging in to their tasty treats!


Bag the Best Lunch For You

In the spirit of August being National Healthy Lunch Month, we’ve posted some helpful ideas for you on how to spice up that drab brown bag lunch that you dutifully bring to work.
“Bag Lunches and Snacks to Fit Your Food Plan” from the International Diabetes Center is a helpful and informative tool to add a little health and variety to your everyday lunch. Giving you 30 quick and easy recipes to try out, you could go a whole month without having the same thing twice, and feel secure that everything you tried was great for you. For the carb-conscious, all of the carbohydrates have been counted out for you.
Whether you’re looking for a fun side dish like the Peanut Butter Fruit Dip with Apple, or a main dish that whets your appetite like the Broccoli, Ham, and Shell Pasta Salad, this book has something for you to at least try.
The menus even come with accompaniments for your meals that help round out the nutritious experience, and supplying any key vitamins or minerals that might have been left out by the other fabulous parts of the meal.
Try the Oatmeal Casserole Bread or the Creamy Butternut Soup. Maybe mix the Wild Rice and Seafood Salad with some Spicy Cranberry Muffins. Enjoy it, because with these recipes, it’s all guilt free.
You can find “Bag Lunches and Snacks” in our catalog in the Cookbooks section, or at www.ncescatalog.com.


Food Safety, Simply Put (Week 2)

Since July is National Food Safety Month, it only makes sense to discuss topics such as proper food handling and, well, food safety.
In the household, food safety is your concern and responsibility, as well as the concern and responsibility of everyone else in the home. Many food safety rules are fairly basic, but oftentimes overlooked in the hustle and bustle of the modern day kitchen. Here are some rules to live by when taking care of food in the kitchen.

  1. Wash hand with soap and warm water, or use a sanitizing towel or liquid cleanser before handling food.
  2. Put all of your perishable foods into the refrigerator within 30 minutes of shopping.
  3. When grocery shopping, grab the frozen foods and vegetables right before you check out.
  4. Put cooked meats in a clean container instead of the container it arrived in as raw meat.
  5. After cutting raw poultry, fish or meat, clean the cutting board before using it for anything else.
  6. Keep the refrigerator between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Keep the freezer below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Cook ground meat until it’s ‘well done.’
  9. Throw items out when they pass the expiration or sell-by date.
  10. Before eating raw fruits and vegetables, wash or scrub them under running water.

These tips and more can be found in our “Health Beat” healthy promotion newsletters, available on our site, http://www.ncescatalog.com or in our catalog.


Food Safety, Simply Put

Since July is National Food Safety Month, it only makes sense to discuss topics such as proper food handling and, well, food safety.
A study published in 2000 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed some startling numbers about foodborne illnesses. Each year:

  • 76,000,000 illnesses are cases of foodborne illnesses.
  • These foodborne illnesses cause 325,000 hospitalizations.
  • 5,000 deaths each year are caused by these foodborne illnesses.

In the past years, it can safely be assumed that these numbers have grown with the population size. However, it’s relatively easy to practice the prevention of foodborne illness.
Control Time and Temperature
Make sure to properly store you foods at the best temperatures, especially with foods that need to be refrigerated or frozen. When cooking, make sure to cook an item at the recommended temperature. Too low, and the item may be unsafe for consumption. An easy rule to remember is the temperature danger zone is between 41 degrees Fahrenheit and 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooking or storing outside of this range will prevent most bacteria growth.

Avoid Cross Contamination
In dealing with raw foods, it’s essential to ensure that proper hand-washing techniques are being observed in between the handling of products. This is done to prevent any foodborne illnesses that normally occur within raw foods from being passed to other foods that may or may not have been prepared already.

Practice Proper Cleaning and Sanitizing Procedures
It’s good practice to know that before a surface can be sanitized, it has to be cleaned first. Leftover food particles can house and actually prevent germs and bacteria from being destroyed by sanitizing agents. Another tip is to keep the wiping cloth for the sanitizer with, or even in the sanitizing solution when not in use, instead of being slung over the shoulder or apron.

Practice Proper Hygiene Techniques
The last part is pretty simple. Wash your hands when moving from food to other activities and vice versa. This is the fundamental part of hygiene in food preparation, and the easiest rule to practice.

The facts and tips in here were pulled from “Food Safety 101,” available on our website or in our catalog in the ‘Food Service’ section.


Six Picks: The Top 6 Things You Can Do For Food Safety

  1. Wash, wash, wash. Whether it’s your hands, your dishes, or your countertops, washing goes a long way towards keeping your kitchen safe.
  2. Keep raw foods away from other foods. Not only should you make sure all your raw foods are away from your cooked foods, but try not to share utensils between those two groups, either wash things like pots and pans between uses, or have designated utensils. For instance, maybe instead of using the same cloth towel to clean up after your foods, use paper towels for raw foods to prevent bacteria from spreading.
  3. Pick up cold foods last. When grocery shopping, save the frozen and cold food aisles for last. This gives you the longest amount of time to ensure that your foods stay in the safe temperature ranges before you can store them properly at home.
  4. Keep the good cans. Don’t buy canned goods with dents or bulges in them. Those nooks and crannies are safe-havens for bacteria to grow and multiply.
  5. Remember the Three C’s. When transporting food, keep your food clean, cold and covered whenever possible. When foods are left out in temperatures over 90°F for an hour or more, you can be sure bacteria has already started to grow.
  6. Be safe when dining out. Make sure the utensils and plates are clean. Inspect the plates for crack and crevices if necessary. Those cracks can hide bacteria in them.