Holiday Potluck Food Safety Tips

My office is having a holiday potluck next week – do you have any tips to make sure I don’t do anything that will make my co-workers sick from eating my food?

Office holiday potlucks can be great fun as long as proper food safety guidelines are followed.

It’s the holiday season and in offices across the country, coworkers are gathering together to celebrate. With that in mind, it’s a good thing that you want to take extra precautions to make sure that your world-famous seven-layer guacamole and cheese dip that you bring in to share with your office mates won’t send them home sick.

The best way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to adhere to good food safety guidelines. In fact, it’s a good idea to adhere to good food safety guidelines anytime you prepare food – whether it’s a small dish just for yourself or a meal you prepare to share with others.

First things first – always wash your hands before, during and after food preparation. That may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people forget to do this simple act when preparing food. According to a study sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology and the American Cleaning Institute, only 77 percent of people say they wash their hands before handling food.

It’s also important that you don’t make food to share if you or someone in your home is sick, advises the Ohio Department of Health. Doing so could result in you unintentionally sharing those cold germs with others.

Other tips for the holiday potluck from the Ohio Department of Health and others include:

  • When deciding what to bring, consider foods that don’t require temperature control such as baked goods or pre-packaged snacks.
  • Make foods that are easy to serve with utensils to limit the need for hands to come in direct contact with the prepared food.
  • If you make a dish that is prepared off-site, make sure that you transport the food in a covered container to prevent contamination.
  • Cold foods should be kept in a cooler with ice or gel packs to keep the foods cold during transportation.
  • If you are bringing hot foods, make sure you use an insulated container to keep the foods hot during transportation.
  • Use a slow cooker, chafing dishes or other types of warmers to keep hot foods above 140 degrees throughout the potluck.
  • Perishable foods — especially meat, poultry, seafood and eggs — should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours to help ensure that the food doesn’t enter the “danger zone” — between 40 and 140 degrees, where bacteria multiply rapidly.

Also, before the potluck starts, remember to let everyone know if there are there any potential allergens used in the preparation of the food, including nuts, soy, milk, eggs, wheat and fish or shellfish. And remember to throw out any foods that have been sitting out without temperature control for more than two hours.

Bon appetite!

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.

You’re Likely Not Eating Enough Fruits and Veggies

I want to eat healthier, but I’m not sure what that really means in terms of fruit and vegetable intake. I usually eat at least an apple, banana or some carrots every day at lunch. Am I eating enough fruits and vegetables?  

Adults should eat 1.5 to two cups of fruit per day and two to three cups of vegetables per day, according to the latest recommendations from the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

While it’s wonderful that you are eating some fruit and vegetables every day, the amount that you are eating isn’t enough for you to meet the recommended daily amount of produce.

Adults should eat 1.5 to two cups of fruit per day and two to three cups of vegetables per day, according to the latest recommendations from the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. That should include a variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups, such as starchy, dark greens, red and orange, beans and peas, as well as whole fruits.

However, you aren’t the only one who isn’t eating the daily recommended amount of produce. Just 12.2 percent of American adults are eating enough fruit and only 9.3 percent are eating the recommended amount of vegetables, according to a newly released report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study found that on average, Americans adults are eating fruit only once per day and vegetables 1.7 times a day. The study surveyed adults nationwide and included a look nationally at what participants eat as well as information on how much produce people eat on a state-by-state basis.

In Ohio, for example, only 10.6 percent of adults are eating the recommended daily amount of fruits, while only 6.9 percent are eating the recommended daily amount of veggies.

This is significant because eating more fruits and vegetables are recommended to help reduce your risk of developing diet-related chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and obesity, the CDC says.

Women, on average are doing better. The studies found that nationally, more women, 10.9 percent, eat the recommended amount of vegetables. Women also topped men in eating more fruit. Among women surveyed, 15.1 percent ate the recommended amount of fruit.

So how can you incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet?

As mentioned in a previous Chow Line column, a good way to increase your fruit and vegetable intake is to get creative in how you prepare them. Some of the tips mentioned in the column from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics include the following:

  • Use vegetables like broccoli, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini as pizza toppings.
  • Make a breakfast smoothie with low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana.
  • Make a veggie wrap with roasted vegetables and low-fat cheese rolled in a whole-wheat tortilla.
  • Grill colorful vegetable kabobs packed with tomatoes, green and red peppers, mushrooms, and onions.
  • Add color to salads with baby carrots, grape tomatoes, spinach leaves, apples or mandarin oranges.
  • Keep cut vegetables handy for midafternoon snacks, side dishes, lunch box additions or a quick nibble while waiting for dinner. Include red, green or yellow peppers, broccoli or cauliflower florets, carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers, snap peas or whole radishes.

Even if you simply just add an additional handful of grapes or blueberries to your breakfast, some lettuce and sliced tomatoes to your sandwich at lunch, and some roasted sweet potatoes as a delicious side dish to your dinner tonight, you will be doing your body some good.

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.

Thanksgiving Leftovers Stored in the Fridge Safe to Eat until Tuesday

So we’ve got a lot of food leftover from yesterday’s Thanksgiving feast. How long can we safely eat them?

Thanksgiving leftovers stored in the fridge safe to eat until the Tuesday after turkey day.

I’m happy to tell you that you can eat turkey sandwiches, turkey casserole, turkey omelets, turkey soup, turkey pot pie, turkey salad, turkey quesadillas, turkey tetrazzini and many other fun, tasty turkey-based dishes safely for up to four days after the big meal if you stored your leftover turkey in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking.

And, if you choose to store the leftover turkey in the freezer, you can feast on that turkey, well, forever. While the taste and texture of the frozen meat will decline after about four months, turkey that is correctly prepped for frozen storage is safe to eat indefinitely, says the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The federal agency recommends that you remove the turkey from the bone, slice it into smaller pieces and store it in small containers if you plan to eat it within four days. If you want to store the turkey longer, you should pack it into freezer bags or other airtight containers and place it in the freezer.

For the other leftover foods, you should cover and wrap them in airtight packaging, or seal them in storage containers for storage in the refrigerator. This helps to keep bacteria out, retain moisture, and prevent leftovers from picking up odors from other food in the refrigerator, USDA says. Leftover food refrigerated this way is also safe to eat up to four days.

Taking care to store leftovers correctly can help you avoid getting a bad case of foodborne illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Clostridium perfringens is one of the bacteria that can grow in cooked foods that are left at room temperature for too long after cooking. It also produces toxins that cannot be inactivated by reheating the foods.

In fact, C. perfringens is the second most common bacteria causing foodborne infections. As many as one million individuals are affected by C. perfringens each year, according to the CDC. Perfringens food poisoning symptoms include severe abdominal cramps and pain, diarrhea and flatulence within six to 24 hours after eating foods that contain high numbers of bacterial cells.

Another interesting fact: Clostridium perfringens outbreaks occur most often in November and December, with many of the outbreaks linked to turkey and roast beef.

Other tips from USDA for Thanksgiving leftovers include:

  • Keep leftovers in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs if the food is traveling home with a guest who lives more than two hours away.
  • Don’t store stuffing inside a leftover turkey. Remove the stuffing from the turkey and refrigerate the stuffing and the meat separately.
  • When reheating cooked foods, be sure to use a food thermometer to make sure they have been heated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remember, while you are getting creative in how to serve up those Turkey Day leftovers, keep food safety in mind so that you, your family and any guests who want to feast on grandma’s special recipe green bean casserole or other traditional holiday favorites, can do so safely.

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, Food Safety State Specialist, Ohio State University Extension.

Don’t Stuff the Bird

My mom and grandma have always cooked the stuffing in the turkey each Thanksgiving. But now, I hear that practice should be avoided – why is that?  

It’s best not to cook your stuffing inside your turkey.

Despite long held traditions in many families, it’s best not to cook your stuffing inside your turkey.

This is because uncooked poultry can harbor bacterial pathogens, which can be present both on the inside and outside of a raw turkey. And the only way to destroy this potentially dangerous bacterium is to cook the turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, using a digital tip-sensitive meat thermometer to ensure that the bird has reached this temperature.

If you want to use a dial thermometer, it is important to calibrate it first, said Barbara Kowalcyk, an assistant professor in Food Science and Technology in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University.

“Pop-up timers are not very reliable, so it is best to verify doneness with a digital tip-sensitive thermometer,” she said.

To measure the temperature of the turkey, you should insert the meat thermometer into three areas of the turkey to measure its internal temperature: in the thickest part of the turkey breast, in the innermost part of the wing and in the innermost part of the turkey thigh.

The concern is that placing the stuffing into the center of the raw turkey exposes the stuffing to those bacterial pathogens throughout the cooking process, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The stuffing, which is traditionally moist and made with bread or cornbread, is very porous. So as the turkey cooks, juices that may contain bacterial pathogens such as salmonella may be absorbed into the stuffing during the cooking process. Unless the stuffing is also cooked to an internal temperature of 165, it is unsafe to eat.

Even if the turkey itself has reached the safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees, the stuffing may not have reached a temperature high enough to destroy bacteria that may be present, USDA says.

The safest route is to cook your stuffing separate from the turkey and then place it inside the fully cooked turkey if you want to soak up some of the rich, delicious flavor of the turkey.

Other food safety tips from USDA for turkey day:

  • Don’t wash your turkey. Washing raw meat and poultry products just spreads bacteria around your kitchen, increasing the risk for contaminating other products and making your family sick. The only way to destroy bacteria on your turkey is to cook it to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees as measured with a food thermometer.
  • Don’t leave the food out on the buffet table all day on Thanksgiving. It’s best to serve the food hot. Bacteria can grow rapidly on food that’s left out for more than two hours after cooking. If you have guests that will come over throughout the day, it’s best to keep the food in heated chafing dishes to keep the food out of the temperature danger zone of 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which can encourage bacteria to multiply rapidly.

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 Barbara Kowalcyk, an assistant professor in Food Science and Technology for CFAES.

Talkin’ Turkey: Three Ways to Safely Thaw and Cook Frozen Turkey

It’s my first time hosting Thanksgiving, but I’m not sure when I should start thawing the turkey or even how to thaw it – what do I do?

Following safe thawing methods for turkey is necessary to prevent the potential growth of bacterial pathogens that may have been present on the bird before it was frozen, USDA says.

If you are planning to cook a frozen turkey this year for the Thanksgiving holiday, you need to make sure that you thaw and cook it safely to help your guests avoid developing foodborne illnesses.

There are three safe ways to thaw a frozen turkey: in the refrigerator, in a container of cold water, or in a microwave, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Following safe thawing methods for turkey is necessary to prevent the potential growth of bacterial pathogens that may have been present on the bird before it was frozen, USDA says.

And while there are three ways to safely thaw your bird, USDA recommends thawing it in the refrigerator as the best method because it allows the turkey to thaw in a controlled environment out of the temperature “danger zone” — between 40 and 140 degrees — where bacteria can multiply rapidly.

Turkeys thawed in the refrigerator take one day for each 4-5 pounds of weight. So, for example, if your turkey weighs 12 pounds, it can take three days to thaw. But, once thawed, you should cook the turkey within two days to ensure safety.

If you find yourself needing to thaw the turkey using a faster method, you can place it in a container or sink and submerge it in cold water. It’s important that the turkey stay cold, so you need to ensure that the turkey is completely submerged in cold water by replacing the water with fresh cold water every 30 minutes. Turkeys thawed using this method will need 30 minutes of defrosting time per pound.

Also, keep the turkey in its original wrapping while thawing, USDA advises, and consider a secondary container to catch juices and condensation as the bird defrosts.

If you want to thaw your turkey in the microwave, you will need to take it out of its packaging and place it on a microwave-safe dish. Use the defrost function based on the turkey’s weight, USDA says. Generally, allow six minutes per pound to thaw. Once the turkey has thawed, you should cook it immediately.

Other safe turkey tips from USDA:

  • Don’t wash your turkey! Why? Because bacterial pathogens, which can be present both on the inside and outside of a raw turkey, cannot be washed off. The only way to destroy this potentially dangerous bacterium is to cook the turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Washing your turkey or other raw poultry will increase the chance that you spray pathogens over other parts of your kitchen, potentially contaminating your cooking area and sink.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of your cooked turkey and make sure it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You should insert the thermometer into three areas of the turkey to measure its internal temperature: in the thickest part of the turkey breast, in the innermost part of the wing and in the innermost part of the turkey thigh.
  • Refrigerate your Thanksgiving leftovers within one hour of eating to prevent any pathogens that can cause foodborne illnesses from growing.

Happy Turkey Day!

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.

Careful: Some of that Halloween Candy Haul Can Send Some Folks to the Hospital

Can eating too much black licorice really cause heart problems?

Black licorice candy.

In some cases, for some people, yes.

Halloween may be over, but some of the candy gathered during trick or treat could still land some people in the hospital.

That’s according to a warning this week from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that says that people over 40 who eat 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could experience an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia that could land them in the hospital.

Black licorice contains glycyrrhizin, which is the sweetening compound derived from licorice root, FDA says. The problem is that glycyrrhizin can cause potassium levels in the body to fall, causing some people to experience abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, swelling, lethargy and congestive heart failure, FDA said in its advisory.

The issue is primarily a concern for people over 40, some of whom have had a history of heart disease and or high blood pressure, according to FDA. The agency said that potassium levels are usually restored in people with no permanent health problems once the person stops eating black licorice.

So, if you like eating black licorice, it’s best that you don’t eat large amounts of it at one time – regardless of how old you are, FDA says.

They also advise people who experience irregular heart rhythms or muscle weakness to stop eating it immediately and contact your doctor. And lastly, it’s important to know that black licorice can interact with some medications and dietary supplements, so talk to your pharmacist or doctor to be sure none of the medications you take may be impacted.

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 Extensio

Safe Halloween Treats Without the Scary Tricks

Trick or treat is next week and this is the first year my little guy is old enough to go out candy gathering. What can I do to make sure he is safe, but also has a good time trick-or-treating?

In terms of food safety, parents can use a few quick checks to evaluate if treats contain allergens relevant to their child, if the product’s package integrity has been tampered with, or if a treat represents a choking hazard based on the child’s age.

The first thing you can do is make sure your kiddo understands that he is not to eat any candy or other treats that he bags during trick-or-treat until after you have had a chance to inspect those goodies at home.

One good way to inspect the candy is to take a close look at the candy under a bright light, paying close attention to whether it has been unwrapped and re-wrapped, if the paper is ripped or if the candy has a funny or unusual smell, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

You should also check to see if the candy had any discoloration, tiny pinholes or has any stains on the wrapping and whether or not the candy or treat is in its original packaging, FDA says.

To help your little one avoid the temptation of sneaking a piece of Halloween candy before they get home, it’s a good idea to make sure your child has already eaten dinner or some kind of snack before going trick-or-treating.

Other trick-or-treat tips from FDA:

  • For children with food allergies, you should always check the candy or treat label to ensure the allergen isn’t present.
  • Make sure you tell your kids not to eat anything that isn’t commercially wrapped. That includes homemade caramel or candy apples, popcorn balls and rice crispy treats.
  • Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys from the Halloween trick-or-treat bags.
  • Throw away anything that looks suspicious.

FDA also has some safety tips for those who plan to attend Halloween parties:

  • Unpasteurized juices – like raw apple cider – are at higher risk for containing foodborne pathogens. Look for the warning label to identify juice that hasn’t been pasteurized or otherwise processed, especially packaged juice products made on site. If unsure, always ask if juice has been pasteurized or not. Normally, juice in boxes, bottles or cans from your grocer’s frozen food case, refrigerated section, or shelf has been pasteurized.
  • Before bobbing for apples, you can help reduce bacteria levels on the surface by thoroughly rinsing the apples under cool running water and using a produce brush to remove surface dirt.

“You should also be sure to use potable water and a clean, food grade container for the game,” said 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. “To reduce the risk of spreading foodborne illnesses even further, consider an alternative game other than bobbing for apples for your Halloween party.”

Other than that, have a great time trick-or-treating! And make sure you remind the kiddos to brush their teeth after eating all those great Halloween treats and remember not to eat too much at a time – they might end up with a scary tummy ache!

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.

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.