By Johanna Hicks
School is back in session for students in college and below. That means sports are in full swing. In the fall, thoughts go to football, cross country, and volleyball. With fall weather and football season, “tailgating” and picnicking become popular activities. Tailgate parties and picnics can be lots of fun, with good friends and good food. Do not let your fun be spoiled by foodborne illness.
Foodborne illness, with its stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, headaches, and maybe even vomiting, can result from the improper handling of foods. The pathogens that cause foodborne illness grow at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees F. This is called the “danger zone.” Foods prepared for outdoor eating can enter into the danger zone even when the weather is cool.
What foods are risky? Almost any food can be a source of hazardous bacteria, but most hazardous foods are moist and contain protein. This includes meats, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs and dairy products (cream pies, custards, and pastries that have cream fillings). Do not leave these foods in danger zone temperatures for more than two hours. Perishable foods or dishes containing perishable foods should be kept either hot (at or above 140 degrees F) or cold (40 degrees F or below). How do you do this?
Hot foods such as chili, soups, stews, and dips can be transported safely in a thermos if it has no cracks or leaks. Check the seal of the thermos for a tight fit. Keep the thermos clean, then right before use, rinse it with boiling water to warm the inside. Bring food to a boil before pouring it in the thermos. Try to prepare just enough to serve without having leftovers. Discard leftovers if you cannot store them properly. Wrap hot casseroles in several layers of aluminum foil, followed by newspapers and a towel. Or, use insulated containers. Hot casseroles should be served within two hours.
Cold foods can be transported in an ice chest with ice or cold packs to keep the foods below 40 degrees F. Pack the food in shallow containers and pre-chill them before placing them in the ice chest. Keep sandwiches cold or eat them within two hours.
Watch the clock on ready-to-eat and fast food, too. Fried chicken, deli foods, pizza, and hamburgers, for example, should be purchased just before the party and eaten within two hours. Or, purchase these foods in advance, refrigerate them until party time, and then reheat them.
When you don’t have time to take proper precautions, serve only non-perishable foods. Try canned meats, dried or cured meats, some hard cheeses, peanut butter, dried fruits, breads, cereal mixes, nuts, and popcorn. To enjoy a tailgate party or picnic without later distress:
- Plan your menu to fit the situation.
- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
- Don’t let perishable foods stay in the “danger zone” (40 to 140 degrees F) for more than two hours.
- Keep everything clean to avoid contamination.
- Take proper care of leftovers, or throw them away.
So, cheer for your favorite team and stay healthy during this fall season!
Cooking Well for Healthy Blood Pressure
This is the final call for “Cooking Well for Healthy Blood Pressure.” The three-topic series will be held on Monday, Sept. 9, Thursday, Sept. 12, and end on Monday, Sept. 16. All session will be at 1:30 p.m., at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Hopkins County Office, 1200 West Houston St., Sulphur Springs. A fee of $20, payable at the first session, will cover materials, recipe sampling, and door prizes. Please call 903-885-3443 to sign up.
2019 Christmas Joys
Inquiries have been coming in concerning the annual Christmas Joy Holiday program. Well, here you go!
- When: Monday, Nov. 4, 2019
- Where: Southwest Dairy Museum
- Time: 1:30, repeated at 5:30 p.m.
- Cost: $5, payable at the door
- Because seating is limited to the first 75 per session, you must call to reserve a seat. We will need a name and phone number from each person who plans to attend.
- Call 903-885-3443
Join us for recipes, gift-giving ideas, decorating, holiday management strategies, and more! You will receive a book of all the ideas and recipes demonstrated, plus a goody bag and a chance to win a door prize. Then stick around for delicious sampling of treats provided by the Southwest Dairy Museum staff.
Give your stress wings and let it fly away. – Terri Guillemets