A Different Kind of Safety

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Each year at this time I usually write about holiday food safety and one of the major emphasis of this column is usually about keeping food safe during those
large holiday gatherings. It’s looking a little different this year. But that doesn’t
mean that we should throw food safety concerns to the curb, the last thing
anyone wants now (or ever) is a trip to the emergency room because you got sick
from something you ate.

A couple of weeks ago, as part of our Holiday Challenge Lunch-and-Learn series, I
taught a virtual class on holiday food safety. Since it was before Thanksgiving,
there was a lot of discussion surrounding the featured Thanksgiving food—the
turkey. If you missed the class and would like to watch the recorded version, it is
online at the N.C. Cooperative Extension – Brunswick County Center YouTube
channel.

Thinking about food safety, let’s get this out of the way first—COVID-19 is NOT a
food safety issue. Both the CDC and the USDA are not aware of any reports of the
COVID virus being transmitted by food or food packaging.

Holiday foods can add extra opportunities for problems that could cause a foodborne illness. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t forget about allergens. You may be baking or cooking and taking or shipping food to a neighbor or friend that you would normally be visiting in person. Be sure to label foods that contain the major allergens: milk, egg, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, soy, peanuts, and wheat. Also, take care to avoid “cross-contact”. This is when a potential allergen comes in contact with foods that don’t normally have that allergen. This could happen with fingers, serving utensils, and even food items like crackers, chips, and cookies.
  • Baking Food Safety. Avoid eating foods containing raw flour and raw eggs.
    Wash your hands, countertops, and utensils after handing raw flour and
    unbaked doughs and batters. You may wonder about the raw flour—it is a
    raw plant product that is not treated to destroy bacteria. There have been
    links to outbreaks of salmonella and E. coli traced to eating raw flour.
  • Store baked goods. Many baked goods can be stored at room temperature.
    Keep them covered to prevent contamination. Baked goods with cream,
    custard, cheese, meat or vegetable fillings or cream frostings and egg-based
    foods like bread pudding should be kept in the refrigerator.

Perhaps you didn’t know the N.C. Cooperative Extension – Brunswick County Center has our own YouTube Channel. It’s fairly new and the staff members
have been working hard the past few months to post classes and short videos
about many subjects including foods and nutrition, 4-H, agriculture, yards,
gardens and, of course, food safety. I hope you’ll subscribe and see the many
things we offer.

There is also still time for you to sign up for the Holiday Challenge. The idea
behind the Holiday Challenge is to maintain and not gain weight during the holiday season. You can sign-up to get weekly newsletters, healthy holiday
recipes, quick daily tips, and weekly challenges delivered to your email from the
folks at Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina.

Here in Brunswick County, we’re offering an additional Holiday Challenge with
prizes, support, and a weekly (every Tuesday at noon) Lunch-and-Learn Zoom
lesson and discussion with local speakers.

Upcoming 2020 topics include:

  • December 15–The Importance of Exercise
  • December 22–Tips to Reduce Stress
  • December 29—Eating for Better Health and Weight Loss and Maintenance.

You can sign-up by contacting Meghan Lassiter, our Family and Consumer Science
Extension Agent here in Brunswick County, by phone or email.

This article was featured in the Brunswick Beacon’s  Extension FCS Column for use on December 9, 2020. It was written by Cheryle Syracuse, a Family and Consumer Sciences staff member. She can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center 910-253-2610 or by email at
Cheryle_Syracuse@ncsu.edu.