Hard-boiled eggs safer choice than soft-boiled eggs for Easter

I prefer the texture of soft-boiled eggs versus hard-boiled eggs. Is it OK to use soft-boiled eggs for dyeing Easter eggs?

Cooking time and degree of readiness of boiled eggs. Photo: Getty Images.

Well, that really depends on whether you plan to eat the Easter eggs or just use them for decoration.

Eggs are an important source of protein and are delicious to eat. However, they must be handled safely to prevent the chance of contracting a foodborne illness.

While it’s understandable that some people prefer the taste of soft-boiled eggs versus hard-boiled eggs, from a food safety standpoint, it is safer to use hard-boiled eggs for dyeing Easter eggs that you plan to eat. In fact, you should cook the eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm, not runny.

This is because eggs can contain salmonella, which is an organism that causes foodborne illness, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Salmonella can be found on both the outside and inside of eggs, and it can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and fever, which can last for a couple of days to a week, the USDA says.

The symptoms can be worse for people with weakened immune systems, young children, and older adults, and they can result in severe illness, including death, said Kate Shumaker, an Ohio State University Extension educator and registered dietitian. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

To help lessen your chances of developing a foodborne illness, it’s best to cook eggs before eating them, as cooking reduces the number of bacteria present in an egg. However, a lightly or softly cooked egg with a runny egg white or yolk poses a greater risk than a thoroughly or hard-cooked egg, the USDA says.

Lightly cooked egg whites and yolks have both caused outbreaks of salmonella infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s because partially cooking an egg can result in some harmful bacteria surviving the cooking process, which can cause illness.

Likewise, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that 79,000 cases of foodborne illnesses and 30 deaths each year are caused by eating eggs contaminated with salmonella.

While the chances of foodborne illnesses are small, you still need to practice safe food handling when dealing with raw eggs in preparation for dyeing and eating Easter eggs,Shumaker said.

If you are making Easter eggs that will be eaten, it is important that you make sure the eggs are thoroughly cooked. This can be done by placing fresh eggs with intact shells—never use eggs with cracked shells—in a saucepan and covering them with at least 1 inch of water.

Cook the eggs until the yolks and whites are firm: Cooking times can vary based on the sizes of the eggs. Then, run cold water over the eggs and store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to decorate them.

Here are some other safety tips from the USDA to keep in mind:

  • Be sure to use only food-grade dye if you plan to eat the eggs you decorate.
  • The USDA recommends making two sets of eggs: one for decorating and hiding, and another for eating. You could also use plastic eggs for hiding.
  • If you plan to eat the eggs, after hard-boiling them, dye them and return them to the refrigerator within two hours.
  • If you plan to use the eggs for decorations and they will be out of the refrigerator for more than two hours, it’s best not to eat them.

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, OSU Extension educator and registered dietitian.

Springtime in Ohio is a good time for strawberries, asparagus, other in-season produce

Which fruits and vegetables are in season in the spring?

Strawberries and asparagus in an open air market. Photo: Getty Images.

Rain and bright sunny days make spring a good time to indulge in a wide range of plentiful produce such as asparagus, cabbage, kale, spinach, and strawberries. Not only are these items extremely fresh and flavorful because they’re currently in season, but they’re also widely discounted because of the abundance of supply based on this time of year.

Because fruits and vegetables grow in cycles and ripen during certain seasons, produce typically is fresher and tastes best when ripe. And while most fruits and vegetables are available to consumers year-round thanks to agricultural innovations, seasonal fruits and vegetables are typically cheaper to buy because they are easier to produce than fruits and vegetables that are grown out of season.

For example, the top advertised items on sale in local grocery stores this week were fruits, comprising 48% of all ads, and vegetables, accounting for 41% of all supermarket sale ads, according to the April 5edition of the National Retail Report, a weekly roundup of advertised retail pricing information compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While this is not an all-inclusive list, generally speaking, the following produce (among others) is in season in Ohio during the spring, according to the Ohio Farm Bureau:

  • Asparagus
  • Cabbage
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Turnip greens

While eating fruits and vegetables is an important part of a healthy diet, it’s also important to remember to incorporate food safety when preparing and eating them. This is because some raw fruits and vegetables can contain foodborne pathogens such as E. coli, listeria, and salmonella, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As such, nearly half of all foodborne diseases are caused by germs on fresh produce, the CDC says.

While cooking produce is one of the best ways to lessen the potential for developing a foodborne illness, here are some other tips from the CDC to keep in mind when choosing and consuming raw fruits and vegetables:

  • Always choose produce that isn’t bruised or damaged.
  • When shopping, choose pre-cut fruits and vegetables that are refrigerated or are kept on ice.
  • Keep fruits and vegetables separated from raw meat, poultry, and seafood in your shopping cart and in your grocery bags.
  • Wash or scrub fruits and vegetables under running water, even if you do not plan to eat the peel, so that dirt and germs on the surface do not get inside during slicing.
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
  • Refrigerate within two hours any fruits and vegetables that you have cut. Store them in a clean container at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
  • Store fruits and vegetables away from, and not next to or below, raw meat, poultry, and seafood. These items can drip juices that might contain germs.
  • Use a separate cutting board for fruits and vegetables than what is used for cutting or preparing raw meats, poultry, or seafood.
  • Wash cutting boards, counter tops, and utensils with hot, soapy water before and after preparing fruits and vegetables.

Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University 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 Shari Gallup, educator, family and consumer sciences, OSU Extension.

When to throw out moldy food

When is it ok to consume food that mold has grown on, and when should one throw the food away?

Photo: Getty Images.

That depends, in part, on the type of food.

First, it’s important to understand what mold is.

Mold and yeast are generally considered spoilage organisms, as they cause undesirable changes to the appearance, texture, smell, and taste of the product, explains Abigail Snyder, an assistant professor and food safety field specialist for The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

However, some instances of mold growth on food introduces food safety concerns, Snyder wrote in Mold Has Grown on Your Food: What Should You Do, a recent Ohioline fact sheet.

Ohioline is Ohio State University Extension’s free online information resource and can be found at ohioline.osu.edu. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of CFAES.

“Determining the difference between when food with mold growth should be discarded, or when the damaged portion can be removed and the rest of the food consumed, is the challenge,” she wrote. The specific food safety risk posed by mold growth varies by product.

Determining the specific food safety risk associated with mold growth in a given product is essential in determining what to do with the food. In some cases, there are concerns that mold might cause allergic reactions or illness due to mycotoxin production.

Generally speaking, canned food and beverages that have mold growth should be thrown out, while foods such as fermented vegetables, hard cheeses, hard meats, and firm vegetables can be eaten if you remove the molded portion of the food before consuming, Snyder said.

For example, in the case of canned food, the issue of mold is one of food safety.

Some molds will digest the acid in the canned product. This increases the pH levels of the canned food. This is important because some canned goods rely on acid to control the growth of Clostridium botulinum spores and to prevent botulism, she said

Mold in canned goods can also indicate incorrect heat processing, a poor vacuum, a weak seal, contamination along the jar rim, too little headspace, or under-processing of the food—all of which are potential concerns regarding the quality and safety of the product over its shelf life, Snyder said.

In beverages, mold growth can lead to mycotoxin formation, which diffuses through the product. Mold growth can occur when opened juice is left too long in the refrigerator, when coffee has been left out, or in canned juices due to growth of heat-resistant molds, for example. In these cases, the beverages should be thrown out.

In the case of mold on hard cheeses, hard meats, and firm vegetables, generally speaking, you can remove the molded portion of the food and use the rest of the product, she said.

“Some cheeses and dried meats utilize mold as part of their normal fermentation and development,” Snyder said. “As such, mold-ripened products are safe to consume.

“However, spoilage molds on soft cheeses that are not a part of manufacturing, such as blue mold growing on feta, should be discarded.”

If spoilage molds are found growing on hard cheeses such as cheddar; hard meats such as dry-cured salami; and firm vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, and peppers, then the affected portion can be cut off and the rest of the product consumed, she said.

“Be generous in determining how much of the affected portion to remove,” Snyder said. “You should cut at least 1 inch outside of where the mold is growing in order to remove all hyphae, which may not be visible.”

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) 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 Abigail Snyder, an assistant professor and food safety field specialist for CFAES.

Modeling healthy eating is beneficial to children

My little boy is at the age where he has decided he does not like to eat vegetables. As a parent, how can I instill better eating habits in my child?

Photo: Getty Images

While it’s normal for young children to be picky eaters, there are ways that you can help them develop healthier eating habits. One easy way is through modeling healthy eating habits yourself. One of the most common ways that children learn new things is by watching and imitating parents’ actions.

In fact, research has shown that parents’ eating choices can have a major influence on their children, said Ingrid Adams, state specialist in food, health, and human behavior for Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Studies have found that parental modeling of healthy food choices has been positively associated with those same parents’ children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables. And children whose parents modeled healthy eating behaviors were more likely to meet their recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables, Adams said.

“By modeling unhealthy eating behaviors, parents may increase the likelihood of their children being overweight or obese, putting them at greater risk for chronic diseases that can affect their health now and in the future,” she said in Modeling at Mealtime, a recent Ohioline fact sheet. Ohioline is OSU Extension’s free online information resource and can be found at ohioline.osu.edu.

Adams offers these helpful tips for parents to model healthy eating habits in children:

  • Be willing to try new and healthy food options yourself. Offer new foods without forcing or bribing your child to eat them.
  • Show your kids how to make healthy choices during meals and snack times by choosing nutritious foods—and avoiding “junk foods”—yourself.
  • Choose fruits and vegetables as snacks in place of chips and candies, and replace sodas and other sugary, sweetened drinks with water. In other words, make water your dink of choice.
  • Make meals nutrient dense by including foods from each of the five good groups: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and dairy.
  • Take kids with you when you go grocery shopping. Show them how to choose fresh produce, compare nutrition labels on foods, and how to shop on a budget. This can help them understand where their food comes from, how to make healthy choices, and how to use money wisely.

“Planning and making healthy meals with your children is another way to teach healthy eating habits. It is also a great way for children to learn about nutrition and food safety, and develop cooking skills and creativity,” Adams said. “Encourage creativity by having children create a new menu item from a list of ingredients you picked out together.”

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: Ingrid Adams, field specialist in food, health, and human behavior for OSU Extension, reviewed this column.

Understanding symptoms of food poisoning

How do I know if I have food poisoning?

Photo: Getty Images

The symptoms of food poisoning vary depending on the type of germ to which you’ve been exposed, but there are some common signs that can indicate whether you’ve been exposed to a foodborne illness.

The most common signs include stomach cramps, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Some bacteria, such as Listeria can cause flu-like symptoms.

It’s important to note that symptoms of food poisoning can range from mild to serious and that some of them can come on as quickly as 30 minutes after you eat or as long as four weeks after you’ve eaten something that contains a foodborne pathogen, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The time it takes for symptoms of a foodborne illness to manifest really depends on the germ. For example, according to the CDC, if you consume foods that are contaminated with:

  • Staphylococcus aureus (staph), symptoms could appear as soon as 30 minutes to six hours later.
  • Clostridium perfringens, symptoms could appear as soon as six to 24 hours later.
  • Norovirus, symptoms could appear as soon as 12 to 48 hours later.
  • Salmonella, symptoms could appear as soon as 12 to 72 hours later.
  • Clostridium botulinum (botulism), symptoms could appear as soon as 18 to 36 hours later.
  • Vibrio vulnificus, symptoms could appear as soon as one to four days later.
  • Campylobacter, symptoms could appear as soon as two to five days later.
  • coli, symptoms could appear three to four days later.
  • Cyclospora, symptoms could appear one week later.
  • Listeria monocytogenes, symptoms could appear one to four weeks later.

Some people may experience symptoms that last several hours or several days, said Sanja Ilic, the state food safety specialist for Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“While most people experience only a mild illness, people with underlining conditions that weaken their immune system may experience severe outcomes that require them to be hospitalized,” she said.

So how do you know if you should see a doctor for your symptoms? The CDC advises people to seek medical attention for severe symptoms, including:

  • Blood in your stool.
  • A high fever, typically over 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, measured with an oral thermometer.
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than three days.
  • Frequent vomiting that prevents you from keeping down liquids, as this can lead to dehydration.
  • Signs of dehydration, which can be marked by a decrease in urination, a very dry mouth and throat, or feeling dizzy upon standing.

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 Sanja Ilic, state food safety specialist for OSU Extension.

Dietary supplements to gain increased federal scrutiny

I’ve been thinking about adding a dietary supplement as part of my daily routine. But I’m not sure how or if dietary supplements are regulated.

Photo: Getty Images.

Unlike over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements are regulated more like food products than like drugs. Supplements, which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, will now be subject to “new enforcement strategies,” including a new rapid-response tool that can alert consumers to unsafe products, the FDA said in a written statement this week.

The move is “one of the most significant modernizations of dietary supplement regulation and oversight in more than 25 years,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said. “FDA’s priorities for dietary supplements are to ensure that they’re safe, contain the ingredients listed on the label, and are made according to quality standards.”

This is significant, considering that there are now close to 80,000 dietary supplements on the market, with three of every four American consumers now taking a dietary supplement regularly. For older Americans, the rate is four out of every five.

Dietary supplements regulated by the FDA include vitamins, minerals, and herbs. In the 25 years since Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which gave the FDA the authority to regulate dietary supplements, the dietary supplement market has grown significantly, the agency said.

“As the popularity of supplements has grown, so have the number of entities marketing potentially dangerous products, or making unproven or misleading claims about the health benefits they may deliver,” Gottlieb said.

Some of the new FDA oversight steps will include:

  • communicating to the public as soon as possible when there is a concern about a dietary supplement on the market.
  • ensuring that the FDA’s regulatory framework is flexible enough to evaluate product safety while promoting innovation.
  • developing new enforcement strategies.
  • continuing to engage in a public dialogue to get valuable feedback from dietary supplement stakeholders.

For example, the FDA recently sent 12 warning letters to certain supplement companies whose products the FDA considered as being “illegally marketed as unapproved, new drugs” because they claim to “prevent, treat, or cure Alzheimer’s disease, as well as health conditions like diabetes and cancer.”

Per Commissioner Gottlieb, “Dietary supplements can, when substantiated, claim a number of potential benefits to consumer health. They, however, cannot claim to prevent, treat, or cure diseases like Alzheimer’s.”

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University 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 Irene Hatsu, state specialist in food security for OSU Extension.

Protecting yourself from hepatitis A

I just heard about a recent health warning advising people who had visited a central Ohio restaurant last month to get a hepatitis A vaccine. What is hepatitis A, and why would people who were at the restaurant need a vaccine?

Photo: Getty Images

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious virus that infects a person’s liver. It can be spread through close contact with a person who has hepatitis A or by eating food prepared by a person with hepatitis A.

The recent warning concerns consumers who patronized Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, 479 N. High St. in Columbus, Ohio, from Jan. 1–16 of this year. Columbus Public Health issued the warning after a person who had direct contact with food at the restaurant was diagnosed with hepatitis A.

According to Columbus Public Health, consumers who ate at the restaurant from Jan. 1–16 are encouraged to get a hepatitis A vaccine as soon as possible. The agency also said that those same consumers should watch for symptoms of hepatitis A.

Symptoms can include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, fatigue, fever, a loss of appetite, joint pain, dark urine, and gray stool. These symptoms can develop from two to six weeks after the infection occurs. During that time, infected people can spread the virus to others.

There were 10,582 confirmed hepatitis A cases nationwide last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is part of an increase in reported cases in recent years, the government agency said.

Between 2015 and 2016, reported cases increased by 44.4 percent from 1,390 in 2015 to 2,007 cases in 2016. The 2016 increase was due to two hepatitis A outbreaks, each of which was linked to imported foods, CDC said. In Ohio alone, there have been at least 1,531 cases of hepatitis A last year, health officials said.

In fact, the Ohio Department of Health “has declared a statewide community outbreak of hepatitis A after observing an increase in cases linked to certain risk factors since the beginning of 2018. Outbreaks of hepatitis A are occurring in several states across the U.S., including neighboring states of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and West Virginia,” the agency shared in a written statement.

Handwashing is one of the most effective means of preventing the spread of hepatitis A, especially for people who are preparing or serving foods or beverages, the CDC says. This is because food and beverages can become contaminated with the hepatitis A virus when microscopic amounts of feces are transferred from an infected person’s hands.

Additionally, the virus can survive on surfaces and isn’t killed when exposed to freezing temperatures, health experts say. 

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) 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 Abigail Snyder, an assistant professor and food safety field specialist for CFAES.

Prep and freeze food for later use in oven, slow cooker

When I get home from work some nights, I am exhausted and simply don’t feel like cooking. Any tips on what I can do to still eat healthy those nights without having to go out to eat or spend a lot of time making a meal?

Photo: Getty Images.

On a nonworkday, you could make several meals in advance and then store them in your freezer to defrost at a later date. On a day when you don’t have the time or energy to make a full meal, you’ll have access to quick, easy, nutritious, homemade meal options.

Freezing meals in advance can be helpful anytime you need a ready-to-go meal or when you take a meal to someone in need, said Shannon Carter, an Ohio State University Extension educator with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

“Freezer meals can save you time by prepping all the ingredients ahead of time, and then only taking minutes to put in the oven or slow cooker after they are thawed,” she said. “Freezer meals can also save you money because you can purchase ingredients when they are on sale to enjoy them later.”

One way to get started is to plan both the amount and the kinds of meals you want to make in advance and freeze, Carter said in a recent blog post.

“Once you have an idea of what you want to prepare, you can make the entire meal and freeze it, precook a portion of the recipe to freeze, or assemble ingredients to freeze and cook later,” she said.

Here are some other tips from Carter:

  • Use the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate as a guide for your menu. Plan a variety of low-fat proteins and dairy along with plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
  • Consider avoiding ingredients that don’t freeze well, such as mayonnaise and lettuce.
  • Gather ahead of time all the ingredients and containers for freezing. Freezer bags or cartons work well. Label the bags or containers with a permanent marker before filling. Label with the name of the recipe, date, and instructions for cooking.
  • Lay freezer bags flat in the freezer so they are easier to thaw. Consider placing the freezer bags on a pan or baking sheet until frozen and then stacking them in the freezer, or stand the bags vertically once frozen.
  • Foods kept at zero degrees Fahrenheit are safe indefinitely, although quality might deteriorate after 3–6 months.
  • The safest way to thaw frozen foods is in the refrigerator. A gallon-sized bag of food will usually thaw in the refrigerator in about 24 hours.
  • You can also defrost frozen foods in the microwave and then cook them immediately.
  • When using a slow cooker, completely thaw the food before placing it into the slow cooker. This ensures that the food does not enter the “danger zone,” a range of temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit at which bacteria grows most rapidly.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University 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 Shannon Carter, educator, family and consumer sciences, OSU Extension.

Meal kits and other food delivery services should include a focus on food safety

I’m using a meal kit delivery service for the first time. What do I need to be aware of when ordering, and when the food arrives?

Photo: Getty Images.

Meal kit delivery and food preparation services have grown in popularity in recent years, with revenue in that sector expected to grow to over $10 billion in 2020, up from $1 billion in 2015, according to Statista, Inc., a New York-based market and consumer data firm.

Ease and convenience are some of the factors for that increase, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But, it’s important that safe food handling methods are used when receiving food through a mail delivery service, especially when receiving perishable foods, food safety experts say.

Whether it be a subscription meal kit, mail-ordered food, or groceries delivered to your home from a local grocery store, home-delivered food must be handled properly to ensure food safety, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a posting this week.

Consumers are advised to research a company and its practices regarding food safety before placing an order. One thing to consider is whether the company offers instructions for safe handling and preparation of the food, including cooking temperature, with each shipment, the CDC said.

It’s also important to research, if possible, how the company deals with food that is delivered at an unsafe temperature. For example, perishable foods—especially meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs—should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. When this happens, the food can enter the “danger zone,” a range of temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit at which bacteria grows most rapidly.

“It can be difficult for consumers to gather information on the practices and policies of meal delivery services in order to make an informed decision regarding food safety,” said Abigail Snyder, an assistant professor and food safety field specialist for the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University.

“However, checking the temperature of perishable foods when they are received, cooking raw meat products to the appropriate USDA-recommended internal temperature, and checking the delivery for damage or leaks that can lead to cross-contamination are practices consumers can implement themselves,” she said.

Additionally, the CDC recommends that you:

  • arrange for the food to be delivered when someone is at home so that it can be refrigerated quickly instead of being left outside for extended periods of time.
  • find a safe space for delivery if no one will be at home when the food arrives.Food should be delivered to a cool, shaded, and secure location where pests and rodents can’t access it. Let the company know where you would like them to leave your box.
  • examine both the box and the packaging in which the food was delivered. If you ordered perishable food such as meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, or dairy, look for stickers on the box that say “Keep Refrigerated” or “Keep Frozen.”
  • make sure that the company used insulated packaging and materials such as dry ice or frozen gel packs to keep all of the perishable food cold in transit.
  • refrigerate or freeze your delivery as soon as possible until you are ready to prepare it. Remember, bacteria can multiply rapidly if food is kept in the danger zone between 40 and 140 degreesFahrenheit for more than two hours.

Lastly, use a food thermometer to accurately measure the delivered food’s temperature. If the food is warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, don’t eat it. Instead, contact the company to find out whether they will offer you a replacement since you will not know how long the food has been in the danger zone.

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 Abigail Snyder, an assistant professor and food safety field specialist for CFAES.

Some food allergies really aren’t food allergies

My husband has always assumed he is allergic to strawberries, but it turns out that he’s not allergic at all. He just has an intolerance to them. How common is that?

Milk and eggs are among the most common food allergies. Photo: Getty Images.

Very, it seems.

According to a new study published this week in the journal JAMA Network Open, nearly half of the people who think they have food allergies, really don’t. Instead, many people may suffer from food intolerance or celiac disease, which they may believe to be an allergic reaction to certain foods.

The study, which was done at Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern University, was based on a nationally representative survey of over 40,443 adults. According to the study results, 19 percent of adults think they are currently food allergic, although their reported symptoms are inconsistent with a true food allergy—a situation that can trigger a life-threatening reaction.

The study found that only half of adults with a food allergy had a physician-confirmed diagnosis, with fewer than 25 percent having a current epinephrine prescription. Instead, the study authors said that while one in 10 adults have a food allergy, nearly twice as many adults think that they are allergic to foods. But their symptoms may suggest food intolerance or other food-related conditions instead.

According to the study authors, in order to have a true food allergy, respondents had to cite at least one of the following symptoms: hives, swelling of the lip or tongue, difficulty swallowing, chest tightness, trouble breathing, vomiting, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, or low blood pressure. Those who reported having only an itchy mouth or gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea and cramps, were not considered to have a food allergy, because symptoms such as those don’t indicate the body’s immune system reacting to an allergen, the researchers said.

“It is important to see a physician for appropriate testing and diagnosis before completely eliminating foods from the diet,” the researchers said in a written statement. “If a food allergy is confirmed, understanding the management is also critical, including recognizing symptoms of anaphylaxis and how and when to use epinephrine.”

The study authors also found that nearly half of those with a food allergy developed it while an adult. Common foods identified as allergens among U.S. adults are:

  • shellfish, affecting 7.2 million adults
  • milk, affecting 4.7 million adults
  • peanut, affecting 4.5 million adults
  • tree nut, affecting 3 million adults
  • fin fish, affecting 2.2 million adults
  • egg, affecting 2 million adults
  • wheat, affecting 2 million adults
  • soy, affecting 1.5 million adults
  • sesame, affecting .5 million adults

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University 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 Irene Hatsu, state specialist in food security for OSU Extension.