Newly Updated Foodkeeper App Helps Reduce Food Waste

How do I know when an item of food is spoiled?

Photo: Getty Images.

That really depends on the food item in question.

Food spoilage refers to a decrease in quality beyond what is acceptable to consumers, said Abby Snyder, an assistant professor and food safety field specialist in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University (CFAES).

Signs of food spoilage can include a change in color or texture. The food may also emit a foul odor or develop an unpleasant taste, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.

“The quality of food products often decreases over time,” Snyder said, “and the point at which a food is considered ‘spoiled’ varies by product, how it has been processed and packaged, and storage conditions.”

Food spoilage can occur more quickly in perishable foods depending on the impact of temperature, heat, humidity, light exposure, oxygen and the growth of microorganisms, all of which could cause a food item to be unpleasant to eat.

Microbial spoilage can occur more quickly when foods are exposed to unsuitable conditions, which can result in the growth of bacteria, molds and yeast.

“While these microorganisms may or may not be harmful, the waste products they produce when growing on or in food may be unpleasant to taste,” according to the USDA.

One way to prevent or lessen the chance of your food spoiling before you get a chance to eat it is to follow proper food storage methods. Storing foods properly can greatly impact their quality and safety over time.

For easy access to specific storage information, you can use the USDA Foodkeeper app. The app, which was just updated this month to include 85 more food items, helps consumers know how to avoid food waste through its information on how to store foods for maximum quality and information on how long certain foods last.

The app includes tips on how to store more than 650 food and beverage items that are available in an online data feed. Each time a user opens the Foodkeeper app, it will check the data feed for updates on food safety issues. The app also provides guidance on how to store condiments and sauces.

The app offers storage timelines for each product if it is stored in the refrigerator, freezer or pantry and cooking information for several types of food. The storage of unopened and opened food packages is also addressed.

The app can also send reminder alerts to your smartphone when a food item you’ve listed may soon spoil and can alert you to food safety recalls. Users can access cooking tips, safe food handling information, and cooking temperatures for various types of meat, poultry and seafood products.

The app offers mobile accessibility and is available for Android and IOS devices. It can also be accessed online at FoodSafety.gov/FoodKeeper. The app provides information in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

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.

Some Synthetic Food Flavoring Additives Banned

What are synthetic food flavoring additives and why have some of them banned from use?

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The Food and Drug Administration announced last week that it was banning the use of seven commonly used synthetic food-flavoring additives that have been linked to the development of cancer in laboratory studies of animals.

The flavorings, many of which are used in many brands of chewing gum, candy, breakfast cereals, beer, packaged ice cream and some baked goods, were removed from the FDA’s approved usage list based on the findings of several studies. Those findings were used as the basis of petitions asking the government to stop allowing the synthetic food flavoring additives to be used in food, the government agency said.

The petitions were generated from several groups including the Consumers Union, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Center for Environmental Health, the Breast Cancer Fund and the Center for Food Safety, FDA said.

While the flavoring were previously approved as safe to use in food during the 1960s based on research done during that time, new data now suggests otherwise.

The banned flavorings include: synthetically-derived benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether (methyl eugenol), myrcene, pulegone, and pyridine and are often used to imitate the flavor of cinnamon, citrus and natural mint.

However, the FDA said that, although those synthetic flavorings have been banned, the agency “has concluded that these substances are otherwise safe.”

“The synthetic flavoring substances that are the subject of this petition are typically used in foods available in the U.S. marketplace in very small amounts and their use results in very low levels of exposures and low risk,” FDA said in a statement. “While the FDA’s recent exposure assessment of these substances does not indicate that they pose a risk to public health under the conditions of their intended use, the petitioners provided evidence that these substances caused cancer in animals which were exposed to much higher doses.”

So why would the FDA revoke the usage of these flavorings by food manufactures if they don’t pose a high health risk when used in low amounts to flavor food?

The FDA is required by law to remove any food additive that has been shown to cause cancer in animals or humans, due to the Delaney Clause of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. That 1958 clause requires that FDA cannot approve the use of any food additive that has been found to induce cancer in humans or animals at any dose.

As a result of the directive from FDA, food manufactures will have 24 months to, “identify suitable replacement ingredients and reformulate their food products,” FDA said.

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.

Food Safety Techniques Important for Dogs, too

Is raw pet food ok to serve to my dog?

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While many pet owners may prefer to feed their furry family members raw pet food, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that’s not such a good idea.

This is because pathogens like salmonella and listeria have been found in some raw pet foods, even in some of those brands that are sold pre-packaged in stores, CDC says. Since these germs can make your pet sick, it’s best not to feed them to your dog.

Studies from the U.S. Department of Food and Drug Administration have found that there are more harmful germs in raw pet food than any other type of pet food. And, if you handle these raw pet foods and don’t wash your hands afterwards, they can make you and your family sick as well.

Such was the case in February 2018 when two children in Minnesota suffered salmonella infections and illnesses after coming into contact with bacteria from contaminated raw pet food that included raw ground turkey, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. The exposure to the salmonella caused septicemia, which is a blood infection, in one child and osteomyelitis, a painful and serious bone infection, in the other child, according to a report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Dry dog food can also pose a risk in some instances, CDC says. In fact, CDC says that it is possible for dry and canned pet foods to become contaminated with salmonella pathogens in certain circumstances, noting that there have been outbreaks of salmonella infections have been reported that were linked to dry dog food.

However, CDC says there are ways to lessen your chance of illness when handling dog food, including:

  • You wash your hands right after handling pet food or treats
  • Store pet food and treats away from where human food is stored or prepared and away from reach of young children.
  • Store dry pet food in its original bag inside a clean, dedicated plastic container with a lid, or keep the top of the bag folded or closed.
  • Do not use your pet’s feeding bowl to scoop food — use a dedicated scoop, spoon, or cup.
  • Keep dry pet food and treats stored in a cool dry place.
  • Promptly discard, refrigerate, or store any leftover food.

If you choose to feed your doggie raw pet food, (which CDC doesn’t recommend) CDC says you should:

  • Clean and disinfect all surfaces that the raw food touched, like countertops, microwaves, refrigerators and objects like knives, forks, and bowls.
  • Keep raw pet food away from other food in your refrigerator or freezer.
  • Freeze raw pet food until you are ready to use it.
  • Do not thaw frozen raw pet foods on a countertop or in a sink.
  • Throw away any food your pet does not eat.

And lastly, when you play with your doggie after he or she eats:

  • Don’t let your pet lick around your mouth and face
  • Wash your hands, and any other parts of your body they licked, with soap and water.
  • Don’t let your pet lick any of your open wounds or areas with broken skin.

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 Valerie J. Parker, DVM, DACVIM, DACVN, and Associate Professor – Clinical, at The Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Chow Line: Internal Temperature of 165 F Needed for Chicken to Prevent Foodborne Illness

Does chicken have to be cooked to one uniform temperature, or can it be eaten like steak — rare, medium rare, medium or well done?

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Great question, considering that American consumers eat more chicken than any other meat, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

However, unlike steak, all chicken dishes should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F to ensure that they are cooked thoroughly enough to kill any pathogens that could cause a foodborne illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s best to use a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the chicken to make sure it is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

Raw chicken can be contaminated with the bacterial pathogens Campylobacter, Salmonella and Clostridium perfringens, the CDC says. So if you eat undercooked chicken or other foods or beverages contaminated by raw chicken or its juices, you could get a foodborne illness.

In fact, about 1 million people get sick from eating poultry that’s contaminated with harmful pathogens every year, according to CDC estimates.

To lessen your risk of developing a foodborne illness when cooking or eating chicken, the CDC recommends:

  • When shopping, place any packages of raw chicken into a disposable bag before putting it in your shopping cart or refrigerator to prevent raw juices from getting onto other foods.
  • Wash your hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling raw chicken.
  • Use a separate cutting board for raw chicken.
  • Never place cooked food or fresh produce on a plate, cutting board or other surface that held raw chicken.
  • Wash cutting boards, utensils, dishes and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing chicken and before you prepare the next item.
  • If you think the chicken you are served at a restaurant or anywhere else is not fully cooked, send it back for more cooking.
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftover chicken within 2 hours or within 1 hour if the temperature outside is higher than 90 degrees F.

It’s also important to remember that you shouldn’t wash raw chicken before cooking it. Rinsing or washing chicken doesn’t kill any pathogens that may be on the chicken. But when you wash or rinse raw chicken, you are likely splashing chicken juices that can spread pathogens in the kitchen and contaminate other foods, utensils and countertops, the CDC says.

This is a problem because pathogens such as Campylobacter and Salmonella can survive on surfaces like countertops for up to 32 hours, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

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.

Fridge Organization Key to Lessening Foodborne Illness Risk

I’ve always stored fresh eggs in the little “egg caddy” tray in the door of my refrigerator. But my husband says we should put the eggs in the actual fridge itself. Who’s right, him or me?

Photo: Getty Images

 In this case, your hubby wins the point.

Because eggs are a perishable food, they should be stored in the main compartment of the fridge because the temperature is more stable there, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In fact, other perishable items such as raw meat and other dairy products should be stored in the main part of the fridge as well, USDA says.

That’s because when a refrigerator is opened, food stored on the inside of the door is most exposed to the warmer temperatures in the kitchen.

Keeping a clean and organized fridge is key to ensuring that the foods you’ve spent all that money on don’t spoil prematurely. Also, proper food placement can help reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses by guaranteeing that the right foods are in the right places and are kept at the right temperatures to ensure freshness and safety.

With that in mind, when organizing your fridge, it’s important to make sure it’s set to the proper temperature to make sure your food is being preserved correctly. Proper refrigeration slows bacterial growth on food, so it’s important to keep your fridge and freezer at a temperature that will keep your food safe and help it to stay fresher longer.

Refrigerators should be set to maintain a temperature between 34 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit to safely preserve your food, USDA advises. Setting the temperature too low will cause your refrigerator to work overtime and could also freeze some of your foods. Your freezer should be set to 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

Here are some more food placement tips to follow from USDA:

  • Avoid storing perishable foods in the doors of the fridge as the temperature fluctuates in this location each time the door is opened and closed. Instead, store water, juice and or condiments there.
  • Fruits and vegetables can be stored in the sealed crisper drawers in the fridge. If your fridge allows you to customize each drawer’s humidity levels, you should set the vegetable drawer to a higher humidity, while setting the fruit drawer to a lower humidity.
  • Raw meat, poultry and seafood should always be stored on the lowest shelf of the main compartment of the refrigerator. These items should also be well wrapped or in a sealed container to prevent juices from leaking onto other foods.
  • When storing cooked leftovers, place them on the top shelves in the main compartment of the fridge, above uncooked foods. Refrigerated leftovers are safe to eat up for up to four days.
  • To help keep your fridge clean smelling and to absorb odors of other foods, you can place an open box of baking soda on a shelf in the main compartment.

Lastly, you should try to clean spills in the fridge immediately with hot, soapy water. You can also sanitize your fridge with a diluted bleach solution of 1 tablespoon unscented liquid chlorine bleach to 1gallon of water.

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.

Pizza Injuries in 2017?

I heard a report on the radio this morning that said pizza injuries have caused some people to go to the hospital. What is that all about?

Photo: Getty Images.

You may be referring to a Sept. 5 tweet by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that reported on the number of trips to hospital emergency rooms that consumers across the country have said were associated with … pizza.

Yep, I said “pizza” and “emergency rooms” in the same sentence. How is that possible?

It turns out that last year alone, some 2,300 hospital emergency room visits by consumers were reportedly for pizza-related injuries, according to the CPSC. The government agency said many of the injuries were caused by, but not limited to:

  • Cuts obtained from cutting pizza
  • Burns obtained from hot pizzas and hot pizza pans
  • People falling while carrying a pizza
  • People falling while in a pizza restaurant or shop

And, according to the tweet, at least one person fell out of bed while reaching for a pizza. D’oh!

The data for the pizza injuries report was generated by the CPSC’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which collects data on consumer product-related injuries that occur nationwide.

Injuries aside, pizza remains one of the nation’s most popular foods, with about 1 in 8 Americans reporting that they consume pizza on any given day, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Most adults, 59 percent, eat pizza for dinner, while 28 percent of adults eat it for lunch. Some 11 percent of adults eat it for a snack, while 2 percent of folks even eat pizza for breakfast.

USDA data also shows that on a day that a typical adult eats pizza, the pie accounts for approximately 27 percent of that person’s daily calorie intake, 39 percent of that person’s daily saturated fat intake, 38 percent of that person’s daily sodium intake and 35 percent of that person’s daily protein intake.

The pizza also serves as a source of important vitamins and minerals: On a typical day, the dish provides 37 percent of the person’s calcium intake and 58 percent of the person’s lycopene intake.

So the next time you indulge in pizza, enjoy, but take it safe and easy.

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.

Meat vs. ‘Meat?’

What’s the difference between meat, “clean meat” and plant-based “meat?” It’s all getting a bit confusing.

Veggie Burger sign

This is a very interesting question that is on the mind of many livestock producers and food makers recently thanks to a new law in at least one state that legally defines what constitutes “meat.”

Last week, lawmakers in Missouri became the first nationwide to create new provisions in their state’s Meat Advertising Law that require that any food or meat product that is called “meat” must be derived from livestock or poultry flesh.

The new provisions, which will begin to be enforced Jan. 1, 2019, say that meat products that aren’t derived from animal flesh must include a statement on the product packaging that says if the product is “plant-based,” “veggie,” “lab-grown” or “lab-created,” or if it is “made from plants” or created “in a lab,” according to a statement from the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

So what’s the difference?

Plant-based meat is made from plant-based proteins including soy and peas. Clean meat, which has also been called “cultured meat” or “lab-grown meat,” is made of cultured animal tissue cells, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

There is nothing new about plant-based “meat-like” products, but under meat inspection, names of meat products must meet the standard of identity that has been established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service, said Lynn Knipe, an associate professor of food and animal sciences in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Currently, these products could not be labeled as meat and would have to be labeled with a name such as “imitation meat,” which would not be attractive to most consumers, he said.

“The problem is that it is not clear whether USDA or FDA will regulate the production of the cultured meat-like products, which was the motivation for the new Missouri law,” Knipe said. “Clean, or ‘cultured,’ meat apparently has been given the name ‘clean’ as some people feel that this product is better for the environment and that the manufacturing of this product removes the ‘ick’ factor that some associate with meat processing.”

But the use of the word “clean” is very misleading, he said.

“As consumers learn about the extensive processing that is involved in making these ‘lab-grown’ products, the ‘ick’ factor returns quickly for some,” Knipe said. “This comes at a time when consumers are claiming to want natural, minimally processed food products, but the truth is that these cultured or lab-grown methods do not meet any of the requirements for natural and minimally processed foods.”

The issue of meat and meat product labeling is significant, considering that U.S. consumption of beef, pork, chicken and turkey has increased to a projected 214.8 pounds per person compared with 210.8 pounds per person in 2014, according to USDA. Meanwhile, the meat-substitute industry generated some $4.2 billion last year, according to Allied Market Research.

The United States Cattlemen’s Association filed a petition with USDA requesting that the agency establish a food labeling requirement that the word “beef” only be used to refer to products that come from cattle that were born, raised and harvested in the traditional manner.

And at least four organizations, including the plant-based meat company Tofurky, the Good Food Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, have filed a federal lawsuit against Missouri’s new law provisions.

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 Lynn Knipe, an associate professor of food science and technology in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Canning and Home Food Preservation

With canning season in swing now, I have some home canning recipes that have been passed down through my family over decades that I want to try. With all the new techniques and information that have been developed regarding home food preservation, can I still use those old recipes?

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While it’s a wonderful, cherished tradition in many families to preserve food based on recipes that were developed and honed over the years in grandma’s, great-grandma’s and great-great-grandma’s kitchens, you should review those recipes, and if they don’t match recipes that have been tested and researched by food safety experts, you shouldn’t use them.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a valuable source for current research-based recommendations for most methods of home food preservation, says Kate Shumaker, an Ohio State University Extension educator and registered dietitian. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University (CFAES).

The center was established with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (now called the National Institute of Food and Agriculture) to address food safety concerns for those who practice and teach home food preservation and processing methods, she said.

Precisely following the proper steps and recipes when home canning is important to help prevent botulism, a rare but potentially deadly illness produced by bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, she said.

These bacteria are found in soil and can survive, grow and produce a toxin in certain conditions, such as when food is improperly canned, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The toxin can affect your nerves, paralyze you and even cause death.

That’s what happened in April 2015 when one central Ohio woman was killed and 24 others were hospitalized with botulism after eating potato salad that was made with improperly home-canned potatoes.

“Canning season can be from late May, when your spring vegetables and fruits come in, through fall and into the colder months, when people want to can meat and soups,” Shumaker said.

While canning is not really a complicated process, you do have to follow researched and tested recipes, she said.

“Home canning is a science, but it’s not the time to experiment — you can’t make up your own recipes,” Shumaker said. “A lot of things can affect the safety of your final product.

“It’s important not to alter the acid (pH) level of the food in the jar, the size of the pieces of food, the canning method or the processing time. Each of these items plays a role in the amount of time and heat it will take for the core (center) of the jar to reach a safe temperature to keep the food safe to eat and not make someone sick.”

Additionally, CFAES experts offer hands-on classes on food preservation and canning in several locations around Ohio and have produced several YouTube videos on the subject. They also offer recipes and other resources for food preservation and canning at go.osu.edu/food-preservation and on Ohioline.

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.

Tips for Dining out Safely

With the recent reports of people developing foodborne illness after eating at certain restaurants, it’s made me a little worried about eating out. How can I be safe when dining out?

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Foodborne illnesses have been in the news a lot lately, most recently with the cases of some 650 people who reported becoming ill with gastrointestinal problems after eating at a Chipotle restaurant in Powell, Ohio, last month.

It turns out that what made them sick was a toxin produced by bacteria called Clostridium perfringens, according to the Delaware General Health District. While food samples taken from the restaurant tested negative for the bacteria, stool samples collected from sickened customers contained the toxin, the agency said.

Clostridium perfringens is a foodborne pathogen that grows and produces a toxin when cooked foods, such as rice, meats and others, are held at unsafe temperatures, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even when the foods are reheated and the bacteria killed, the toxin is still active and can cause the disease.

Although a specific food source has not been identified in this case, ongoing food and stool tests are being conducted by the CDC to identify the culprit, the Delaware General Health District said.

Foodborne diseases are preventable, and no one should get ill from eating foods at home or in a restaurant, said Sanja Ilic, the state food safety specialist for Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University

“Consumers should have food safety in mind when they are choosing eating options,” Ilic said. “Things like food safety practices, cleanliness and similar should play a role in consumers’ choice of restaurants.”

So how can you safely decide which restaurant to dine in to lessen your risk for developing a foodborne illness?

First things first, you can check a restaurant’s inspection scores at your city, county or state health department, advises the CDC. Most health departments should list restaurant inspection reports on their websites. You may also be able to call your local health department and request a copy of the inspection report of restaurants that are located in your area.

You can also check for certificates that show that kitchen managers have completed mandated food safety training, the CDC says. Following proper food safety training by food service workers can lessen the chance of spreading foodborne illnesses. You can also ask if workers are using gloves or utensils to handle foods such as deli meats and produce.

The CDC offers these other food safety tips when dining out:

  • Order food that’s properly cooked. Certain foods, including meat, poultry and fish, need to be cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful germs that may be present. If you’re served undercooked meat, poultry, seafood or eggs, send them back to be cooked until they are safe to eat.
  • Watch out for food served lukewarm. Cold food should be served cold, and hot food should be served hot. If you’re selecting food from a buffet or salad bar, make sure that the hot food is steaming, and the cold food is chilled. Germs that cause food poisoning grow quickly when food is in the danger zone, between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Ask your server if raw or lightly cooked eggs are used in foods such as Caesar salad dressing, custards or hollandaise sauce. Raw or undercooked eggs can make you sick unless they’re pasteurized to kill germs.

It’s also important to remember that if you bring home leftovers, they need to be refrigerated within two hours after serving. And if it’s a hot day, you’ll need to get them refrigerated within one hour instead. This is to ensure that the leftovers don’t reach temperatures in the danger zone.

And lastly, while it may be tempting to eat that leftover pasta from a week ago that you forgot was in the fridge, don’t do it! Leftovers should be eaten within three to four days. Otherwise, they should be thrown out after that time to prevent developing a foodborne illness.

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, specialist in Food Safety for Ohio State University Extension.

Two Cutting Boards are Better Than One

I’m getting my own apartment soon and I’m shopping for a cutting board – should I get a wooden or plastic one?

Photo: Getty Images

Congrats on your new home!

When shopping for a new cutting board, there are many options to choose from, including wood, plastic, marble, glass or pyroceramic. While each one has its advantages and disadvantages, the easiest one to clean and keep clean, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is a cutting board that has a nonporous surface.

That’s the most important thing to consider when buying and using a cutting board – how to keep it clean to decrease the risk of contamination of pathogens that can cause a foodborne illness. So when choosing a cutting board, you should look for one that is easy to clean, rinse and sanitize.

To clean your cutting board, wash it with hot, soapy water after each use, then rinse with clear water and air it dry or pat it dry with a clean paper towel, USDA advises. Also, nonporous cutting boards, including acrylic, plastic, glass and solid wood boards, can be washed in a dishwasher.  However, laminated cutting boards shouldn’t be placed in a dishwasher as this may cause it to crack and split.

If you’d rather sanitize your cutting board by hand, you can use a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Allow the bleach solution to sit on the cutting board for several minutes before rinsing well with clear water and letting it air dry or patting it dry with a clean paper towel.

Wood cutting boards are porous, although bamboo wood cutting boards are harder and less porous than hardwoods.  Bamboo absorbs very little moisture and resists scarring from knives, so they are more resistant to bacteria than other woods. You can clean bamboo cutting boards with hot soapy water and sanitize if you’d like. You can also rub bamboo cutting boards with mineral oil to help them retain moisture.

Another important thing to consider when buying or using a cutting board: make sure you use one cutting board for meat, poultry and seafood and a separate cutting board for fresh produce and bread. Even if you wash your cutting board after each use, it’s best to have separate cutting boards for veggies and for meat. This will lessen your risk for cross contamination of bacteria and pathogens from raw meat onto other foods.

Whatever cutting board you choose, it’s very important that you routinely inspect it to see if the cutting board has become excessively worn or has developed hard-to-clean groves, signs the board should no longer be used. Deep grooves make it difficult to thoroughly clean your cutting board and increase the risk of contamination.

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.