Website Offers Nutritional Tips, Tactics for Food Savings

I have a limited budget to spend on food, but I want to make sure my family is eating healthy. What are some tips to help me incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my grocery haul while staying within my budget? 

When purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables, buy those that are in season. In-season produce typically not only has more flavor and is fresher, it usually costs less. Photo: Thinkstock.

Eating healthy and increasing your fruit and vegetable intake doesn’t have to be expensive. Planning ahead for your grocery spending can allow you to make healthy food choices that won’t cause sticker shock to your family’s food budget.

One of the best ways to stick to a budget is to take inventory in your kitchen of the items that are needed for the week or the month and make a list of the foods you plan to purchase before you get to the grocery store. And once you are at the store, stick to your grocery list, bypassing the urge to buy any tempting items that you really don’t need.

That’s just one of the tips listed on the Celebrate Your Plate website offered by the Ohio State University’s SNAP-Ed program. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by Ohio State University Extension, which is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

The website offers tips on shopping, cooking, gardening and for in the kitchen, all designed to help people budget for, plan and create healthy, good-tasting meals.

Some other tips the website offers on how fruits and vegetables can fit into your budget include:

  • Plan your meals ahead of time and make a grocery list, then stick to your list. You’ll save money by buying only what you need.
  • Don’t shop when you’re hungry. Shopping after eating will make it easier to pass on tempting snack foods. You’ll have more of your food budget for vegetables and fruits.
  • When purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables, buy those that are in season. In-season produce typically not only has more flavor and is fresher, it usually costs less.
  • Canned or frozen vegetables can offer costs savings. For canned items, choose fruit canned in 100 percent fruit juice and vegetables with “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.
  • Clip coupons from the local newspaper and online. Also, check weekly store ads for sales, coupons and specials that will cut food costs.
  • Some fresh vegetables and fruits don’t last long, so buying small amounts more often can help make sure you can eat the foods without throwing any away.
  • Choose store brands when possible. You’ll get the same or similar product for a cheaper price. If your grocery store has a membership card, sign up for even more savings.
  • Buy vegetables and fruits in their simplest form. Pre-cut, pre-washed, ready-to-eat and processed foods may be more convenient, but they often cost much more than fruits and vegetables that are purchased in their most basic forms.

Another way to save time and money while incorporating more fruits and veggies in your diet is to use leftover vegetables to make a casserole or soup. You can use your overripe fruit to make a smoothie or for baking. More cost-saving tips, recipes and information can be found at celebrateyourplate.org.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Ana Claudia Zubieta, director of Ohio SNAP-Ed in CFAES.

Apples – To Peel or Not to Peel?

My little boy loves apples, but he refuses to eat them unless they are skinned and cut into little pieces. Is he still getting the same nutrition as eating them with the peel?

Take heart – apples are not only delicious, they’re a healthy, nutritious, low calorie part of a balanced diet. So the fact that your son enjoys eating apples is wonderful.

However, if you could find a way to incorporate the apple skin into his apple slices, your son would get the additional nutritional benefits derived from eating the apple peel. That’s because the skin of the apple is where most of the fiber and other nutrients are found.

In fact, a medium unpeeled apple has nearly twice the fiber, 40 percent more vitamin A and 25 percent more potassium than a peeled apple, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database.

In addition, apple skins contain:

  • Ursolic acid, which may increase muscle strength and help burn calories, and in turn aid in weight loss, according to a study by the University of Iowa.
  • Quercetin, a compound that acts like an antihistamine and an anti-inflammatory, according to a study from the University of Maryland Medical Center.
  • Triterpenoids, which are compounds that a study from Cornell University suggests, may inhibit some cancer cells.

To introduce apples with the skin on to your son, try offering him different varieties. While most people are familiar with Red Delicious, Gala, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples, there are over 7,500 types of apples to choose from. Over 50 varieties are grown in Ohio.

One popular Ohio-grown variety is the Melrose apple, which was bred at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, the research arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University. Known as the official state apple of Ohio, the Melrose apple tends to be large with good flavor and texture.

Offering very thin slices may also make the skin more appealing. Peeled or unpeeled, enjoy lots of apples! October is National Apple Month and a great time to benefit from fall’s bountiful harvests.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Carol Smathers, field specialist in Youth Nutrition and Wellness for Ohio State University Extension.

Chow Line: Consuming Placenta After Birth Not Recommended for New Moms

I’ve heard that consuming your placenta after giving birth can help new mothers with postpartum depression and ease pain. Is that true?

According to a new study noting documented harms and unproven benefits, placenta consumption is discouraged.

The placenta is an organ that connects a developing fetus to the mother’s uterine wall. It transports oxygen and other nutrients for fetal growth and filters toxins harmful to the developing baby. It is dispelled from the woman’s body after birth.

The practice of eating the placenta – which is typically eaten raw, cooked, drank in smoothies, or dehydrated into a capsule form – after birth has grown in popularity among some mothers who say that it improves breast milk supply, reduces postpartum bleeding, and prevents postpartum depression, among other advantages.

However, in a study published Aug. 28 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers reviewed over 100 placenta consumption or placentophagy studies worldwide and found no evidence of it being beneficial to mothers.

Instead, the study’s authors advise, based on their research, that obstetricians discourage their patients from consuming placenta in any form, not only because there is no benefit, but also because it can potentially be harmful to both women and their babies.

A similar warning was issued in June by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to new moms about the potential dangers of taking pills made from placenta. The warning came after an infant developed a recurring case of group B Streptococcus sepsis after its mother consumed contaminated placenta capsules that had the same form of Streptococcus.

“Placenta ingestion has recently been promoted to postpartum women for its physical and psychological benefits, although scientific evidence to support this is lacking,” the CDC said in a written statement.

In addition, they said that there are no safety standards set for processing placenta for consumption, and that the “placenta encapsulation process does not per se eradicate infectious pathogens; thus, placenta capsule ingestion should be avoided.”

That means that if the placenta is not properly prepared, it can harbor dangerous bacteria and viruses including HIV, hepatitis and Zika, the study authors said.

The bottom line, according to the study’s authors, is “there is evidence that mothers who have eaten their placenta can spread serious bacterial infections to their baby and may develop infections themselves. Given documented harms and unproven benefits, placenta consumption is discouraged.”

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu. 

Editor: This column was reviewed by Carolyn Gunther, state specialist in Community Nutrition for Ohio State University Extension.

My co-workers mentioned something about cheat days and weight loss during lunch today, but I’m not sure what they meant. What were they talking about?

Man sneaking cake in kitchen.

They likely were discussing a new study published this month that says taking a “cheat day” or short break from dieting may help some people lose weight.

In the study published Sept. 19 in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers said that avoiding continuous dieting may aid some people in losing weight and in keeping the weight off.

The study involved a group of 51 obese men who participated in a four-month diet that included restricting their calorie intake by one-third. Half of the participants stayed on the strict diet for the entire four-month period, while the other half maintained the strict diet for two weeks, then took a two-week break from the diet and ate the same amount of calories that they were burning. The latter group did the two weeks on, two weeks off approach to the diet the entire four-month study period.

The result?

The men who followed the two weeks on, two weeks off “cheat days” diet lost more weight than the group of men who maintained the strict diet, according to the study. The study also found that the men who where in the “cheat days” group maintained an average weight loss of 17 pounds more than the strict diet group some six months after the end of the diet.

The study authors attributed the weight loss to “adaptive thermogenesis,” a process which a person reduces their food intake during dieting and their resting metabolism decreases, making weight loss harder to achieve, the lead study researcher said in a statement.

“While further investigations are needed around this intermittent dieting approach, findings from this study provide preliminary support for the model as a superior alternative to continuous dieting for weight loss,” the lead study author said.

In general, restrictive diets don’t work, said Dan Remley, field specialist in Food, Nutrition and Wellness for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University.

“Very few people can maintain any type of restrictive diet over long periods of time,” he said. “In addition, on and off again dieting or yo-yo dieting can play havoc on one’s metabolism leading to weight gain. It would be interesting to know if the ‘cheating’ approach would be something that could be maintained beyond four months.”

In the meantime, for those who are trying to lose weight, most experts agree that eating more fruits, vegetables and lean protein; decreasing your sugar intake; drinking more water; and incorporating some form of exercise into your daily routine can aid in helping you shed a few pounds.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Dan Remley, field specialist in Food, Nutrition and Wellness for OSU Extension.

App, Websites and Grocers offer Ways to Keep Abreast of Food Recalls

Turns out that the hot dogs I had planned to make for lunch yesterday were recalled but I had no idea. Why do foods get recalled, and how can I be better aware of recalls on foods I’ve purchased? 

Typically, food recalls are a voluntary response from a food supplier or manufacturer when their product has been mislabeled or hazardous, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Food mislabeling – such as listing the wrong ingredients, failing to declare allergens or offering misleading claims about the product – can pose a risk to consumers looking to avoid certain allergens (chemical hazards) or ingredients. Allergen mislabeling is the most common cause of food recalls in the U.S.

Depending on the nature of the food recall, consumers typically will be advised to throw out the affected product or return the item to the store of purchase for a refund.

Foods can also be recalled for containing foreign objects or physical hazards such as metal shavings or plastic pieces from equipment or packaging, the FDA says, or for contamination with microbial pathogens (biological hazards) such as E. coli, Salmonella or Listeria.

If consumers find they have a recalled product in their refrigerator or pantry, they should follow instructions from regulators or the producer regarding its disposition.

One way to keep abreast of food recalls is to sign up for notifications by FDA. You can visit their website at fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/default.htm to request notifications of food recalls, market withdrawals and safety alerts. The site also lists historical data on those issues.

Another resource that alerts consumers to food recalls is the U.S Department of Agriculture Foodkeeper app. The app, which offers consumers information on how to store food safely and how long certain foods last, was updated this month by USDA to include food safety recall alerts.

Now, each time a user opens the Foodkeeper app, it will check the data feed for updates on food safety issues. You can also set the app to receive food recall alerts as they happen, once a day or weekly. The app, which also offers mobile accessibility, is available for Android and IOS devices. The information can also be accessed online at FoodSafety.gov.

Some grocery stores also offer a service in which they will notify their customers who have loyalty cards with the store, of food recalls. A receipt of previous purchases will be associated with the customer loyalty information so that individuals can receive a notice from an automated messaging service if a food purchase is later recalled.

One of the greatest barriers to a successful recall is food perishability. Depending on the product, consumers may have already eaten the food before learning of the recall. Rapid response systems like those described here help shorten the time between the announcement from the company and the consumer response.

Depending on the nature of the food recall, consumers typically will be advised to throw out the affected product or return the item to the store of purchase for a refund.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was edited by Abigail Snyder, an assistant professor and food safety field specialist for CFAES.

Fall Offers More Than Just Pumpkins

I know that autumn is a great time to buy pumpkins, but I’m not so sure what other produce is in season in the fall. Any ideas?

Fall is a great time for apples, pears, other seasonal fruits and veggies.

Fall is a good time to start looking to buy pears, apples and hard squash, among many other seasonal fruits and vegetables. In fact, those are some of the items that many grocery stores are now starting to promote heavily at discounted prices in their grocery aisles, according to the Sept. 1 edition of the National Retail Report, a weekly roundup of advertised retail pricing information compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While improved technology and agricultural innovations mean that consumers can access fresh fruits and vegetables year round, fruits and vegetables naturally grow in cycles and ripen during a certain season. When ripe, produce is fresher and typically has its best taste. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are also typically cheaper to purchase because they are easier to produce than fruits and vegetables that are grown out of season.

So how do you know which fruits and vegetables are in season?

One way to find seasonal foods near you is to use a new app and website developed by Grace Communications Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for sustainable foods. The app compiles data from the USDA and the Natural Resources Defense Council on over 140 varieties of produce to show users what fruits, vegetables, herbs and nuts are in season on a state-by-state basis.

Called the Seasonal Food Guide, the app and website allow users to check what produce is in season in half-month increments in each state. Other sources to check for what’s in season include the USDA Seasonal Produce GuideOhio Farm Bureau and Ohio Proud, among others.

While this is not an all-inclusive list, generally speaking, the following produce (among others) is in season in Ohio in fall:

  • Apples
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Grapes
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Peaches
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Spinach
  • Summer Squash
  • Turnips
  • Winter Squash

So get out and enjoy some really tasty, healthy, fresh fruits and veggies. Your body — and especially your waistline — will thank you! Not only are fruits and veggies naturally low in calories, eating them may help reduce the risks of multiple diseases including high blood pressure, some cancers and heart disease, experts say.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences educator for Ohio State University Extension

Tips to Prevent Food Spoilage When the Power Goes Out

Storm preparedness has been on my mind lately. I’m wondering what I can do to be ready in the event of a power outage to prevent the foods in my refrigerator from spoiling?

Refrigerator thermometer indicates spoilage.

One of the biggest factors in deciding whether the foods in your household will spoil during a power outage is the duration of the power loss. Generally speaking, perishable foods that have been in temperatures above 40 degrees for two hours or more will need to be discarded to avoid the potential for food borne illnesses.

While you cannot control the duration of a power outage (unless you use a generator) there are some steps that you can take before the storm to prepare in the event that your power goes out. One way is to make sure that you have on hand a few days worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling, says the U.S. Department of Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Examples include shelf-stable foods, boxed or canned milk, water, and canned goods. Also, it is a good idea to have ready-to-use baby formula for infants on hand and foods for your pet available.

In addition, know where you can purchase dry ice or block ice, and make sure you have coolers on hand that you can use to temporarily keep refrigerator food cold if the power goes out for more than four hours. A 50-pound cake of dry ice should protect the food in a full, 20-cubic-foot freezer for three to four days, according to an Ohio State University Extension Ohioline fact sheet.

Be careful, however, when using dry ice to avoid the build up of gas. To prevent gas buildup, don’t use dry ice in a closed or unvented container. To relieve gas pressure in your refrigerator or freezer, open the door occasionally. And always wrap the dry ice in a towel or newspaper prior to use, being careful not to touch the dry ice with your bare hands, Ohioline advises.

Other tips from USDA and Ohioline to be prepared for a power outage before the storm include:

  • Keeping appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure temperatures remain food safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40 degrees or lower in the refrigerator, 0 degrees or lower in the freezer.
  • Place two or three ice cubes in a plastic freezer bag and seal the bag. Keep the bag in the freezer at all times. In an upright freezer, you can have a test bag on each shelf. If there is a power outage, you will know if the interior temperature was above 32 degrees if the cubes melt.
  • Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers prior to a storm that can be used to fit around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold.
  • Freeze refrigerated items, such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately—this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
  • Group foods together in the freezer to help the food stay cold longer.

Once the power goes out, Ohioline recommends that you keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. This is because a refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed, and a full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours. A half-full freezer will hold its temperature for 24 hours if the door is kept closed.

Once your power is back on, it is important that you check your food to make sure it is safe to eat. Generally, you should throw away any perishable food that has been above 40 degrees for more than two hours. Remember, never taste food to determine its safety.

Additional information on food safety before, during and after a power outage can be found on the Ohioline website at ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5357.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu. 

Editor: This column was reviewed by Kate Shumaker, an Ohio State University Extension Educator and registered dietitian.

September Is Food Safety Month and a Good Time to Learn Practical Tips

My dad absolutely hates to waste food, so he tends to keep leftovers until they smell bad. Until then, they are safe to eat, as far as he’s concerned. Is that true?

The safe storage time for leftovers depends on what foods are in question and also how the foods are stored.

No, not really.

The bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses aren’t easily detectable to the naked eye nor by smell because these organisms do not affect the look, smell or taste of foods, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The safe storage time for leftovers depends on what foods are in question and also how the foods are stored. Generally, foods such as wet salads (egg, chicken, ham, tuna and macaroni) can be eaten safely up to five days after opening if stored correctly in a refrigerator. Foods like cooked meat or poultry and pizza are safe to eat within three to four days after preparation if stored correctly in a refrigerator.

For more detailed information, you can refer to the safe food storage chart offered by Foodsafety.gov. While some foods can safely be consumed after the best-by date label like dried and canned foods, leftovers may support the growth of pathogenic bacteria and should be eaten quickly or discarded.

Being aware of general food safety practices can help consumers avoid a foodborne illness, says Abigail Snyder, an assistant professor and food safety field specialist in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University.

Annually, some 48 million people get foodborne illnesses, leading to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some other big myths about food safety, according to Foodsafety.gov, include:

  • Leaving food out of temperature control (e.g., refrigeration) for more than an hour or two is not a good idea because bacteria grow rapidly at room temperature when food reaches the temperature “danger zone” — between 40 and 140 degrees. While it may be tempting to think that re-heating food that’s been in the danger zone for too long will make it safe, that is incorrect. Some toxins produced by the bacteria can withstand cooking and can lead to illness.
  • Washing raw meat, like chicken, under running water gets rid of pathogenic bacteria. This is false. Rinsing raw meat actually can increase your chance of getting a foodborne illness because the pathogenic bacteria can be spread to your sink, countertops and other kitchen surfaces. The only way to kill the bacteria from raw meat is through proper cooking times to reach the recommended internal temperature. More information on safe minimum cooking temperatures can be found at foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html.
  • Not washing your hands before eating or after food preparation, especially after handling raw foods. Bacteria that can cause numerous illnesses can survive on many surfaces, including your hands. Therefore, you should always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm, running water before and after handling food.

Heeding basic food safety practices can help prevent serious illnesses. With September designated as National Food Safety Education Month, now is a good time to learn more. Additional information on food safety can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/News/Features/food-safety-month-2013.htm.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was edited by Abigail Snyder, an assistant professor and food safety field specialist for CFAES.

Healthy, Stress-free Packed Lunches for School Start With Planning and Preparation

My kids go back to school next week and I’m already stressing about what to pack for their daily lunches. Do you have any suggestions about how to make the process easier and the lunches more healthy?

Planning ahead is one way to take the stress out of packing healthy, nutritious lunches that your kids will enjoy.

Planning ahead is one way to take the stress out of packing healthy, nutritious lunches that your kids will enjoy. Before heading to the grocery store, plan a menu of what you want to pack in your kids’ lunches that week. Then, make a shopping list to ensure that you have what you need.

When packing your kids’ lunches, try to include a whole grain (e.g., whole-grain bread, pita, tortilla or crackers), a protein (e.g., lean lunch meat, tuna, peanut butter or beans), some form of calcium (e.g., milk, cheese or yogurt), and fruits and vegetables (canned, fresh or frozen), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s guidelines for school lunches.

The guidelines recommend that kids in kindergarten through fifth grade consume no more than 550–650 calories during lunch; students in sixth through eighth grades consume no more than 600–700 calories; and students in ninth through twelfth grades consume no more than 750–850 calories.

Here are some tips to packing those healthy lunches from the USDA and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

  • Prep some foods for lunch a day or two in advance. For example, pre-portion fruits and vegetables in sandwich bags or plastic containers. Then, store them in the refrigerator so your kids can choose easily in the morning what they want to pack in their lunch. You can also pre-portion in sandwich bags healthy snacks like granola, light popcorn, crackers, raisins or pretzels.
  • Try to add variety to your kids’ lunches. Some suggestions include wraps, cracker sandwiches, little salads or bread-free sandwiches consisting of slices of lunch meat wrapped around cheese sticks.
  • Repurpose meals by packing leftovers in plastic containers to send in your children’s lunches. You can also lightly steam vegetables or send other cooked foods, as long as they are kept hot.
  • To ensure that hot foods stay hot and cold foods stay cold, use an insulated thermos. Soups, chili, and macaroni and cheese will stay hot in a thermos. Freezing milk, juice boxes and water bottles keeps cold foods cold. The frozen drinks will melt during morning classes and be ready for drinking at lunch.
  • Freeze lunchbox-sized water bottles and yogurt tubes for your kids’ lunches. They will defrost, keeping the lunches cool for lunchtime.
  • Insulated, soft-sided lunchboxes or bags are best for keeping food cold, but pack at least two ice sources with perishable food in any type of lunch bag or box that you use. Doing so can help keep perishable foods out of the bacterial danger zone — temperatures between 40 F and 140 F, at which bacteria grow most rapidly — until lunchtime.

Remember to tell your kids to discard the perishable foods they don’t eat during lunch. The USDA advises that these foods should not be eaten later in the day. You should also clean your kids’ lunchboxes each night, either by wiping them down with a disinfectant wipe or by throwing the lunchboxes (depending on the types) into the dishwasher or washing machine at least once a week.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was edited by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences educator for Ohio State University Extension.

Careful: Some People Foods Just Aren’t Good For Dogs

My dog loves to sit under the table during dinner near the kids’ chairs in hopes of finding tidbits that may fall from their plates. I’ve even given our dog portions of food from our meal. Is that ok? 

Grapes are among those foods not good for dogs to eat.

In some cases, no, it’s not a good idea to feed your dog some foods that come from your dinner table.

In a recent notice from the U. S. Food and Drug Administration, pet owners are reminded not to feed their dog some foods that are meant for human consumption. That’s because some foods people eat can be dangerous or even deadly for dogs, FDA says.

The reason?

An animal’s body processes food much differently than a human body, Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian at FDA, said in a written statement.

“Our bodies may break down foods or other chemicals that a dog’s can’t tolerate,” she said.

High on the list of human foods that dogs should not eat – chocolate and any food that contains xylitol, which is a sugar substitute that is used in many sugar-free foods.

Chocolate contains methylxanthines, a stimulant that can stop a dog’s metabolic process. Even a small piece of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, can result in your dog developing diarrhea and vomiting. And xylitol, which can also be found in some peanut butters, can be deadly for dogs, FDA warns.

Other human foods FDA, the American Kennel Club and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, says to avoid feeding to your dog include:

  • Raw meat. Just like in humans, any E. coli, Salmonella or other harmful bacteria that may be present in raw meat, can also make your dog sick. It’s also a good idea for you to wash your hands if you are handling raw meat before you give your dog anything to eat.
  • Raw eggs. Just like raw meat, raw eggs can contain Salmonella. Also, raw eggs contain avidin, an enzyme that decreases the absorption of biotin. This can lead to skin and hair coat issues as well as cause neurologic problems in dogs.
  • Grapes, raisins or currants. These foods can cause kidney failure in some dogs.
  • Fried and fatty foods. These items can cause pancreatitis, a potentially life-threatening disease.
  • Cinnamon. While cinnamon is not toxic to dogs, it can irritate the inside of dogs’ mouths and it can lower a dog’s blood sugar too much and can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, increased, or decreased heart rate, and even liver disease.
  • Onions, garlic, and chives. Garlic can create anemia in dogs, causing side effects such as pale gums, elevated heart rate, weakness and collapsing. Poisoning from garlic and onions may have delayed symptoms, so if you think your dog may have eaten some, monitor him or her for a few days, not just right after consumption. However, since garlic and onion tend to be cumulative toxins, they are unlikely to cause a problem unless your dog ingests a very large amount at one time or eats them often, says Dr. Valerie Parker, a veterinarian and associate professor at The Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Moldy food. If you throw away moldy cheese rinds or hamburger buns in the trash can, make sure your dog doesn’t then get into the garbage, where he may eat them.
  • Salty snacks. Salty snacks can increase water retention in some dogs. So if you dog happens to grab a bag of salty potato chips or pretzels, make sure your dog has access to plenty of water.
  • Macadamia nuts. These are some of the most poisonous foods for dogs and can have a damaging effect on the dog’s nervous system. They can cause vomiting, increased body temperature, inability to walk and lethargy.
  • Ice cream. As tempting as it may be to want to give your dog ice cream on a hot summer day, most dogs don’t digest dairy products well and many may also have lactose intolerance.

So, while your dog may look longingly at you while you eat, you may want to resist the temptation to share your goodies until you are sure that the foods you are eating won’t have a negative impact on your dog.

Talk to your veterinarian before introducing human foods to your dog to make sure that your good intentions don’t accidentally cause harm for your pets.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was edited by Dr. Valerie Parker, DVM, an assistant professor, clinical, at The Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.