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Grilling: Safely for the Summer

Man grilling meat on garden barbecue party, in the background friends eating and drinking










With news stories about food contamination and harmful chemicals appearing almost weekly, it is not surprising that many would-be chefs are taking food preparation more seriously, particularly food safety: Grilling, in fact, is one area of food preparation that needs particular scrutiny.

Is Grilling Safe?

Grilling gets a bad reputation because more people are likely to feel ill after a summer barbeque than after an indoor meal. In reality, however, many cases of food poisoning and upset stomachs are not caused by grilling at all, but may be the result of overindulgence at a picnic, spoiled diary products such as mayonnaise in potato salad, or overexertion (hiking, flag football, etc.) too soon after a meal. Yet with proper preparation and attention to hygiene, grilling is a safe and delicious way to cook meats and vegetables.

Tips for Food Safety: Grilling

Proper food safety has many steps, from buying the food to disposing of leftovers.

Grocery Shopping

Safely grilled food begins with safe grocery shopping. When buying food for the grill, remember these safety tips:

  • Buy meats last when picking up groceries so they are out of refrigeration for the shortest time.
  • If possible, buy meats that are still frozen.
  • Place meats in a plastic grocery bag away from other foods so juice does not drip on other items.
  • If necessary, transport food home in a cooler to keep it cold.
  • Freeze meat immediately if it will not be used within one or two days.


Getting Ready for the Grill

Before firing up the grill, food must be properly prepared so it can be safely cooked.

  • Thaw meats completely before grilling so they will cook more evenly.
  • Never thaw meat on the counter – thaw in the refrigerator or in the sink with cool not hot water running.
  • If using a marinade, reserve some for basting or flavoring instead of reusing the sauce that has been in contact with the raw meat. If a marinade must be reused, boil it first to kill any bacteria.
  • Consider precooking meats by boiling or microwaving to lower the amount of grilling time and ensure doneness especially items like large chicken breasts that will take longer cooking times.
  • Wash vegetables to be grilled thoroughly before cooking.
  • If grilling at home, keep meats refrigerated until time to grill.
  • If food needs to be transported to a park or campsite, store it in a cooler in the shade. Do not open the cooler frequently and do not store other foods or drinks in the same cooler.
  • Use clean utensils and platters when handling food.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before handling food or placing it on the grill and after placing raw meat on the grill if you handled it with your bare hands.

On The Grill

While grilling, it is vital to follow certain precautions to ensure food safety:

Meat should reach a healthy internal temperature to be thoroughly cooked: poultry should reach 165 degrees, burgers 155 degrees, pork 145 degrees, and steaks 145 degrees for medium rare cuts and 160 degrees for medium cuts.

  • Browning and char is not an accurate indicator of thorough cooking; use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.
  • If grilling meat and vegetables on the same surface, use separate utensils to handle each type of food and do not allow meat drippings to fall onto vegetables.
  • Use a clean platter for cooked meat; do not place it on the same platter that was used for raw cuts.
  • Keep meat hot until served by moving it away from the fire but keeping it on the heated grill.


Proper grilling safety should also include serving precautions to ensure that cooked food does not accidentally become contaminated before it is eaten.

  • Wash hands thoroughly before eating or handling food; if restrooms are not available, use anti-bacterial gels or wipes.
  • Discard burned or charred portions before eating; several studies have indicated that soot from char may contain carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals.
  • Cover food on the table to prevent flies or other insects from enjoying a free meal and spreading germs.
  • Do not use insect repellents or other harsh chemicals near food, and choose a table away from restrooms or other insect-attracting locations.



Grilling safety precautions should not end when the meal is over. Leftovers need to be treated carefully to ensure they are still safe.

  • Try to gauge portions properly to avoid leftovers if possible.
  • Store leftovers in the cooler immediately and refrigerate as soon as possible.
  • Food left out for more than two hours should be discarded.
  • Leftovers must be reheated to safe internal temperatures before being eaten


More Grill Safety

There is more to grilling safety than just safe, thoroughly cooked food. Both charcoal and propane grills can be dangerous if used improperly, and even delicious food can be unappetizing after a grill accident. To prevent problems:

  • Use proper grilling equipment and fuel.
  • Keep children away from the grill area.
  • Do not leave the grill unattended.
  • Trim excess fat from meats to prevent flare-ups from drippings.
  • Use barbeque utensils and heat-resistant mitts to protect hands.
  • Only use a grill in a well ventilated, open area.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby while grilling.


In Conclusion

The majority of food bacteria grows between 41 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit, and keeping food at proper hot or cold temperatures is critical for food safety: grilling can also be dangerous, however, if the food is not handled appropriately. From the grocery store the leftover storage container, following proper grilling safety tips can help make summer barbeques a tasty tradition without fear of accidents or illnesses.


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!



Look Out for Poisonous Plants











Spring and summer months are perfect for outdoor activities. When camping or hiking, it is important to know what plants to avoid. Some poisonous plants can cause harm to humans and animals.

Animals and Humans React Differently

Some plants cause reactions or death in humans, but do not have the same effect on animals. Some animals are deathly effected by some plants, but they do not hurt humans.

Andrew Baril, an Alabama Extension regional agent of forestry, wildlife and natural resources, said when it comes to poisonous plants, animals and humans react differently.

“Humans need to look out for poison ivy, poison oak and sumac and don’t touch it,” Baril said. “Animals don’t normally have a problem with the touching these plants, but if your dog rolls in a patch of poison ivy and you rub the dog, it will get on you.”

According to Baril, dog hair can carry the oils found in these plants.

“They can bring them into a home and the oil can get on carpets, rugs, furniture or wherever they lay,” Baril said. “Oils can remain potent for over a year. Therefore, dogs should be bathed after they had been seen playing in the plants.”

Coming in Contact with Poisonous Plants

Unless someone is severely allergic, generally nothing will happen to a person just touching poison ivy, oak or sumac. Problems occur with these plants when someone crushes the leaves or stem and releases the oils.

“If the oil is allowed to come in contact with skin, a rash will develop for most people,” Baril said “If one does come in contact with the oils, it is best to wash the area with warm water and a mild soap. Don’t scratch the area; just lightly remove as much of the oil as possible.”

Baril said that in his opinion, encountering the oils while burning the plants is worse than touching or crushing them.

“Smoke encountering the eyes, and inhalation into one’s lungs is extremely painful, and could lead to hospitalization and even death,” Baril said.

He offers a few tips on how poisonous plants, and precautions to take to avoid them.

  • Poison ivy and poison oak have leaves with three leaflets, often with a reddish spot where the leaflets attach to the stem.
  • Do not burn any part of these plants.
  • Always wear long pants and close-toed shoes when in wooded areas.
  • Consider application of a preventive lotion, such as Ivy Block, before going outdoors.
  • Always wash clothes immediately upon return from walking in wooded areas.

Don’t Eat Wild Plants

Baril cautioned that touching a poisonous plant can be bad, but eating one can be even worse.

“If you don’t know for sure what plant you are handling, don’t ingest the plant,” Baril said.

Dr. Nancy Loewenstein, an Alabama Extension specialist of forestry and wildlife sciences, said there are wild plants that are editable.

“Unless you’re 100 percent sure you’ve identified a plant correctly and made sure it is edible, don’t eat any wild plants,” Loewenstein said. “Some plants have fruits that look safe to eat, but are not. A few examples are Chinaberry and the Chinese tallowtree.


Loewenstein says the fruit of Chinaberry (Melia azederach), is the most toxic part of the tree. The leaves, bark and flowers are mildly toxic but usually cause no problems. Swine and sheep are most commonly affected by eating Chinaberry, but children have been poisoned by eating the berries,” she added.

Chinese Tallowtree

Chinese Tallowtree

“All parts of the Chinese tallowtree (Triadica sebifera)plant are poisonous, especially the fruit,” said Loewenstein.

She added that while she believes not many people would be tempted to eat the seeds, eating berries from this tree can cause diarrhea, listlessness, weakness and dehydration. These symptoms may not occur until two to four days after the plant is eaten.

Alabama Extension’s publication, “Poisonous Plants of the Southeastern United States,” goes into detail about the toxicity of dozens of poisonous plants. It also lists symptoms of exposure and treatment after coming in contact with poisonous plants. You can read the full publication here.

There is also the publication “Touch-Me-Nots – Recognizing and Avoiding Poisonous Plants of Alabama.” You can find this publication here.


Featured Image: Brett Marshall, Sault College, Bugwood.org

Rash Image: zawafoto/shutterstock.com

Chinese Tallowtree Image: KPG_Payless/shutterstock.com

Bean Dip or Spread











2 cups cooked pinto beans

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup cooked green onions with tops

1/8 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed (optional)

1 or more drops liquid hot sauce, to taste


Drain beans and save 2 tablespoons of the liquid.  Mash beans until almost smooth.  Use a pastry blender, fork, electric blender, or food processor.  Add saved bean liquid, oil, lemon juice, garlic, and oinion.  Stir until well blended.  Season with pepper, dill weed, and hot sauce.  Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Makes 8 servings: One serving: 3 tablespoons.*One serving contains: 124 calories; 0 mg cholesterol; 250 mg sodium; 18 g carbohydrates; 5 g protein;  4 g fat or 27% of total calories.


To Vary: Use black beans, navy beans, or garbanzo beans (chick peas) in place of the pinto beans.  If using canned beans, pour the beans in a strainer, rinse with cold water, and drain thoroughly.  This will reduce the sodium content in canned beans.


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Egg Safety

Easter eggs in nest on grunge wooden background








Easter is just a few weeks away, and many children will find colored eggs nestled side by side with chocolate bunnies in cheerful baskets or lurking in hiding places awaiting to be discovered.  Always handle eggs properly to prevent foodborne illness.  Consider the following when planning on buying eggs for dyeing and for keeping a few days before Easter.

 What should you consider when purchasing eggs?

Always buy eggs from a refrigerated case. Choose eggs with clean, uncracked shells. Don’t buy out of date eggs. The USDA grade shield on the carton means that the eggs were graded for quality and checked for weight under the supervision of a trained USDA grader. State agencies monitor compliance for egg packers who do not use the USDA grading service.

What does the date on the egg carton mean?

Egg cartons with the USDA grade mark must display a “Julian date”*, the date the eggs were packed. Although not required, they may also carry an expiration date beyond which the eggs should not be sold, but are still safe to eat. On cartons with the USDA grade mark, this date cannot exceed 30 days after the eggs were packed in the carton. Depending on the retailer, the expiration date may be less than 30 days. Eggs packed in cartons without the USDA grade mark are governed by the laws of their states.

How should eggs be refrigerated?

Refrigerate raw shell eggs in their cartons on the middle or lower inside shelf, not on the door, and away from any meat that might drip juices or any raw produce that might contact eggshells. Cover or wrap well any egg mixtures or leftover cooked egg dishes. For all perishable foods, including eggs and dishes containing eggs, allow no more than 2 hours at room temperature for preparation and serving, 30 minutes to 1 hour when it’s 85°F or hotter without refrigeration.

How long are eggs that have been refrigerated, safe to eat?

Raw eggs maintain their freshness for 4-5 weeks after purchase if kept refrigerated continuously.

How long are hard cooked eggs that have been refrigerated, safe to eat?

A hard cooked egg, if keep in its shell, can be safely refrigerated for up to one week.

I just realized I left the egg carton on the kitchen counter overnight. Are the eggs safe to use?

Temperature fluctuation is critical to safety. After eggs are refrigerated, it is important that they stay that way. A cold egg left out at room temperature can sweat, facilitating the growth of bacteria. Refrigerated eggs should not be left out more than 2 hours.


What is an adequate temperature to cook an egg?

Eggs you serve immediately at home need to be cooked to 145 degrees and if serving in a serving line in a commercial kitchen they must reach 155 degrees.  Please do not use raw eggs unless they are pasteurized in homemade ice cream because people can become infected with salmonella from raw eggs.  Mix the eggs with a little milk and sugar and heat quickly to 160 degrees to a custard state and then cool down and mix with your other ingredients when making homemade ice cream if you like that rich taste eggs give it.

How does Salmonella infect eggs?

Salmonella bacteria are found in the intestinal tracts of animals, birds, reptiles, insects and humans. Salmonella may be found on the outside of the egg shell before the egg is washed or it may be found inside the egg if the hen was infected. It is estimated that one egg in 20,000 eggs may contain Salmonella  Eggs contain natural antimicrobial substances in the egg white, and all eggs are washed and sanitized before they are packed. Egg recipes properly prepared in individual servings and promptly eaten are rarely a problem. Inadequate refrigeration, improper handling and insufficient cooking are all factors that have contributed to disease outbreaks. Salmonella is destroyed by heat. Eggs that have been handled and cooked properly should not cause human illness.

What usually causes salmonellosis?

Salmonellosis outbreaks are most often associated with animal foods, including chicken, eggs, pork and cheese, but have also been reported related to cantaloupe, tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, orange juice and cereal among other foods. Human carriers play a big role in transmitting some types of salmonellosis. Salmonella bacteria can easily spread from one food to another and from  foodhandler to food if improper handwashing  is practiced.

The majority of reported salmonellosis outbreaks involving eggs or egg-containing foods have occurred in food service kitchens and were the result of inadequate refrigeration, improper handling and insufficient cooking. If not properly handled, Salmonella bacteria can double every 20 minutes and a single bacterium can multiply into more than a million in six hours. Properly prepared egg recipes served in individual portions and promptly eaten are rarely a problem. You can ensure that your eggs will maintain their high quality and safety by using good hygiene, cooking, refrigeration and handling practices.

Are eggs the only source of Salmonella bacteria?

No. Salmonella bacteria are widely found in nature and easily spread. The bacteria can be found in the intestinal tracts of animals, birds, reptiles, insects and people. While the egg itself may not be contaminated when you buy it, it can become contaminated from various sources, such as hands, pets, other foods and kitchen equipment, too.

When dyeing eggs for Easter, be careful not to crack them because bacteria can enter the eggs through the cracks.  Use food-grade dyes, such as commercial egg dyes, liquid food coloring or fruit drink powders.  Hard-cooked eggs should not sit out unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours.  Keep eggs refrigerated until you put them into Easter baskets.  Store eggs on a shelf inside the refrigerator rather than on the refrigerator door so they stay fully chilled.

A really good idea, if the kids plan to eat their eggs is not to use the hard cooked eggs for hiding but replace with plastic eggs and save the hard cooked one for them to eat later. If eggs are cracked or broken during the hunt, children may be disappointed when you have to throw them away.  Therefore, it is better to keep the hard cooked eggs refrigerated until the hunt.  Then, all can sit down and enjoy a safe Easter egg feast.


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

March is National Nutrition Month










AUBURN, Alabama—National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

Go Further With Food

“Go Further with Food” is the theme for 2018. Its importance is timely for many reasons. Whether you start the day off with a healthy breakfast or fuel before an athletic event, the foods you choose can make a difference. Preparing foods to go further at home can have a positive impact. Nutrition experts can also help people adopt healthier eating styles and reduce food loss and waste.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has sponsored National Nutrition Month since 1973. Each year it encourages consumers to eat better and to exercise more frequently to improve or maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Keys to Healthy Eating

The Academy says, variety, balance and moderation are the three keys to healthy eating.

No one food group can supply all the nutrients a body needs. Eating a variety of foods from several of the food groups to meet your nutritional needs each day is important.

“Most Americans eat way too much food,” said Tera Glenn, a regional agent in human nutrition, diet and health with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. The average portion size for most people equals two or three servings per meal instead of the recommended serving size.

Glen says appropriate portion sizes range from 1/3 cup to one cup, depending on the food and sometimes how it is cooked. If you don’t have a measuring cup to measure the food, use these tips as a quick reference:

  • 3 ounces (one serving) of meat, poultry or fish is about the size of a deck of playing cards or the palm of a woman’s hand.
  • One serving (1 ounce) of cheese is equal to one thin slice of prepackaged cheese or a chunk about the size of your thumb.
  • One serving of chopped green salad is a small handful of greens. A balanced diet, set up with the appropriate number of daily calories for your activity level, age and size, includes appropriate servings from each food group.

Eat in Moderation

What and how you eat may help you lose or maintain weight. Proper nutrition may help protect you from health problems later in life. It also allows you more flexibility in your food choices.

Contact your county Extension office for more information on National Nutrition Month.


Photo by Chinnapong/shutterstock.com.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Valentine’s Day Desserts

Baking background with a heart of flour on a wooden table with kitchen utensils, rolling pin and a red and white checkered tablecloth









Strawberry Cheesecake

Butter-flavored vegetable cooking spray

1  10-ounce package frozen sliced strawberries

1  3-ounce package strawberry-flavored gelatin

1  cup 1% lowfat cottage cheese

1/2 cup nonfat sour cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar (optional)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 or more drops red food coloring (optional)

2 kiwifruits (optional)


Lightly coat a 7-inch spring form pan or deep 8-inch pie pan with cooking spray.  Thaw and thoroughly drain the strawberries, saving liquid.  Add water, if necessary, to make 1 cup of liquid.  Heat strawberry liquid to almost boiling.  Add gelatin and stir until dissolved.  Cool some.  Beat cottage cheese until smooth.  When gelatin is cool, but not firm, combine it in a large bowl with cottage cheese, sour cream, sugar, and lemon juice.  Beat until it is smooth and beginning to be fluffy.  Fold drained strawberries and food coloring into gelatin mixture by cutting a spoon through strawberries and gelatin and turning gelatin over strawberries.  Continue doing this until the strawberries are well distributed and color is even.  Don’t mix too much.  Pour into pan, cover, and chill 10 to 12 hours.  To serve, cut cake into 2-inch wedges; garnish with sliced kiwi.

Makes 12 servings.  One serving: 1 wedge 

*One serving contains: 62 calories; -1 mg cholesterol; 94 mg sodium; 12 g carbohydrates; 3 g protein; -1 g fat or 4% of total calories.

Note: To reduce calories, use sugar-free strawberry gelatin.


Strawberry Shortcake 

3 cups clean, sliced strawberries

1/3 cup sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons sugar

1/4 cup corn-oil margarine

1/2 cup cold skim milk

1/4 cup ice water

Butter-flavor vegetable cooking spray

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 pint heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar


Sprinkle strawberries with 1/3 cup sugar and toss lightly.  Cover and refigerate until needed.  Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and 4 teaspoons sugar in a large bowl and stir until evenly mixed.  Add maragine and cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or fork.  Or, you can use two knives, cutting on opposite directions.  Continue doing this until the mixture looks like coarse meal.  In a small bowl, combine milk and water and mix.  Add milk mixture all at once to the flour mixture.  Stir vigorously until dry ingredients are moistened and the mixture thickens.  Generously coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Drop dough by tablespoons onto sheet.  Lightly flour hands and pat dough into 12 shortcakes of uniform size and thickness.  Sprinkle a little sugar on top of each shortcake, using about 1/4 teaspoon on each.  Bake at 425’F. for 10 to 12 minutes.  Serve shortcake warm or cool.  When ready to serve, beat cream until almost thick.  Add confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until stiff.  Place shortcake on serving dish.  With a fork, split each shortcake and lift the top half, as you would a biscuit.  Cover bottom half with sliced strawberries and replace top.  Add more strawberries and whipped cream.

Makes 12 servings.  One serving: 1 shortcake.

*One serving contains: 229 calories; 27 mg cholesterol; 192 mg sodium; 29 g carbohydrates; 3 g protein; 11 g fat or 44% of total calories.  

Note: To make one large shortcake, press dough evenly into a 9-inch round or 8-inch square cake pan lightly coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 425’F. for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool on a metal rack 5 minutes and then remove from pan.  Split carefully and fill same as individual shortcakes.  

Strawberry Shortcake (Reduced Calories, Cholesterol, And Fat.) Follow recipe for strawberry shortcake but use 2 cups of lowfat vanilla yogurt in place of 1/2 pint whipping cream.  Stir confectioners’ sugar into yogurt.  This will reduce calories to 185; cholesterol to 3 g; and fat to 5 g or 22% of total calories.

Find these recipes and more in the Auburn Cookbook.


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!




Teatime Tassies

A high angle close up shot of several pecan mini tarts sitting on one of great grandma's 1800's vintage French cooling rack.









Try this wonderful recipe for the holidays!


1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese                                 1 egg

1 stick margarine, softened                                1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour                                        1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1 cup brown sugar


Cream together cream cheese and margarine.  Using  a spoon, stir in flour to make soft dough and roll into 24 balls, about the size of walnuts.  Using a small cup muffin tin, press each ball into cups and chill one hour.  Meanwhile, beat together sugar, egg, and vanilla until frothy.  Stir in nuts.  Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full.  Bake in a preheated 300′ F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Yield:  24 tassies


Source: Mrs.  Laura Rogers’ St.  Clair County High School Home Economics Class.  (I’ve made lots of these since high school-so esay and absolutely delicious!  A must for the holidays!)


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Football Season and Tailgating Parties

Hot wings, nachos, pigs in a blanket, beer, and popcorn, a tailgate party spread.








With the arrival of fall comes football season. What’s more fun than gathering with friends for a tailgating party?

However, don’t let cooler weather fool you into thinking you don’t need to consider the possibility of food-borne bacteria spoiling your party. Be proactive and follow a few simple procedures for safe food handling – then you’ll be sure to go home healthy from a fun day with friends.

* Before, during and after preparing your food, be sure you wash your hands, lathering them with warm soap and scrubbing for a full 20 seconds. Set up a large drink container with a spigot as your water source.

* Include moist towelettes or hand sanitizer for guests to use.

* Keep two separate insulated coolers: one for drinks and one for food. This will keep your food well chilled since the drink cooler is likely to be opened more frequently. Place coolers in the shade and cover them with blankets to help hold in the cold temperature.

* Place cold and frozen foods into coolers. Don’t assume your cooler can chill foods adequately if the food is at room temperature prior to packing.

* Pack foods in reverse order so that the last ones packed will be the first ones used, allowing food at the bottom to stay chilled longer.

* Meat and other similar raw foods should be packed in sealed plastic bags or containers in a chilled, insulated cooler. This will prevent contamination of other foods from leaking juices. Store raw foods separately from ready-to-eat foods.

* Take meat out of the cooler just in time to place on the grill. Never place cooked meat, fish or poultry back in the container that the raw meat, fish or poultry was in. Use a clean pair of tongs and a clean plastic plate or platter when removing the cooked items from the grill. When marinating meat, fish or poultry, discard the leftover marinade after you place the items on the grill. Never use this marinade on the cooked item.

* Use a meat thermometer to judge the safe internal temperature of meat and poultry over 2 inches thick (145F or higher for steaks and chops and 155F for ground meat, 165F or higher for poultry). For meat or poultry less than 2 inches thick, look for clear juices as signs of being done.

* Use separate cutting boards to prevent cross contamination of raw and cooked foods. Wipe them clean with paper towels at the barbecue and toss them in your dishwasher to sanitize when you return home.

* Perishable foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, sandwiches with mayonnaise and salads should not be kept at temperatures above 40F for more than two hours. When the outside temperature is 90F or higher, food should be left out for no longer than one hour.

* If deli or takeout foods such as fried chicken, potato salad or coleslaw are on the menu, make sure they are eaten within two hours of pickup.

* Hot food should be kept at 140F or hotter until served. Try wrapping your hot casserole or other item in several layers of aluminum wrap, followed by newspapers and a towel.

* Cover all food with plastic wrap, aluminum foil or lids, or keep foods and supplies in their original packaging to prevent contamination.

* If you’re not sure if food is still safe to eat, resort to the rule, “When in doubt, throw it out.”


Shelby County Regional Extension Agent Food Safety and Quality:

Angela Treadaway

Office: 205-669-6763

Mobile: 205-410-3696

Email: treadas@aces.edu



The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!


Spice up your child’s lunchbox with these quick but healthy food options










Most parents want to provide healthy food options when packing lunches for their kids, but often fail to realize which nutritious ingredients they are leaving out.(Photo, right: Pexels)

Surprisingly, it does not take an Iron Chef to pack a yummy and nutritious lunch. However, it does take parents who are knowledgeable about the food they are buying and parents who are willing to try new and creative recipes. Teresa Forehand, a regional Extension agent in human nutrition, diet and health, recommends five tips for busy parents to use when packing healthy food options.

Sneak in Vegetables

Parents should always include vegetables in lunches. According to Forehand, they can do this in creative ways that children may not even realize. “Hide veggies in anything from guacamole for sandwich spreads to muffins with carrots or zucchini baked into them,” Forehand said.


“I buy pre-sliced apple wedges for convenience,” Forehand said. “Also, a banana cut in half with the end dipped in Splenda or dry Koolaid is a hit.” These simple tips help save parents time in the morning while still offering creativity. Michelle Floyd, mother of 6-year-old twins, said, “I like to make fruit and vegetable dip on Sunday nights, that way I can quickly add them to my girl’s lunches during the week.”


Some parents believe that packing bags of chips in lunches is too easy to pass up, but according to Forehand, not all chips have to be unhealthy. Parents should opt for a whole grain alternative like Sun Chips. “Veggie chips are crunchy and delicious,” Forehand said. “Cookies are a nice treat but choose whole grain options such as oatmeal.”

Know Your Child

It is important to know what portion size your child will need when packing healthy food options. “One slice of bread is a serving for a preschooler but not for elementary school children,” Forehand said. “Usually 2 ounces of protein, 4 ounces of juice, 8 ounces of fluid milk or yogurt are proper serving sizes.” She also suggests that parents look for artificial coloring that can be added into ingredient lists. These ingredients can be problematic for children with ADHD. For example, the ingredient label will list red #40 or yellow #5.

Be Creative

“Wraps are easy and fun,” Forehand said. She also encourages getting creative with the fillings you put in your wraps. “Ham and cream cheese or taco meat and guacamole or turkey and Swiss are good, but use whole grain tortillas.” Most of the time you can be creative with ingredients you already have, it just takes a little bit of time and imagination. Anna Weeks, a nanny for three kids, says her favorite way to get creative with them is to make a healthy snack called ants on a log. “Since my kids are picky eaters, we like to mix things up at snack time,” Weeks said. “We usually make a treat called ants on a log, where we take a banana and put peanut butter and raisins on top.”


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Elder Fraud & Identity Theft Workshop: Monday, August 7, 2017











August 7, 2017
1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.

Shelby County Extension
56 Kelly Lane
Columbiana, AL 35051

To Register Call:
Emily Hines, REA

Emily Hines
Regional Extension Agent
Family Resource Management & Workforce Development


Meeting Agenda

Elder Fraud (30-60 min.)
 Learn what elder fraud is,
 how to recognize financial scams
 and what you can do to defend yourself.

Identity Theft: (30-60 min.)
 Learn what identity theft is,
 how identity theft happens, and
 how you can deter, detect, and defend yourself from identity theft


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University) is an equal opportunity educator and employer.