Four Food Safety Tips for a Healthy, Safe Holiday | Recent News

Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukah all fall within three days of each other this year. As friends and families gather together this season, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service has four food safety tips to ensure a healthy and safe holiday.

Even on Holidays, Always Follow the Four Steps to Food Safety

Clean hands before food preparation by following these simple steps: wet hands, lather with soap, scrub for at least 20 seconds, rinse with clean warm water and dry hands with a clean towel. Always serve food on clean plates and avoid reusing plates that previously held raw meat and poultry.

Separate raw and cooked foods to avoid cross contamination, which is transferring bacteria from raw food onto ready-to-eat food. For example, when preparing a roast and raw veggies for a dip platter, keep the raw meat from coming into contact with the vegetables, or food that does not require further cooking such as sliced, cooked meat and cheese.

Cook using a food thermometer to make sure food reaches a safe minimum internal temperature. Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality reasons, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.

Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. When transporting hot, cooked food from one location to another, keep it hot by carrying it in an insulated container. For more information about food thermometers, visit FoodSafety.gov

Chill leftovers within two hours of cooking. Keep track of how long items have been sitting on the buffet table and discard anything out longer than two hours. Never leave perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles in the “Danger Zone” over two hours. The danger zone is between 40 and 140 °F where bacteria multiply rapidly. After two hours, enough bacteria may have grown to make partygoers sick. Exceptions to the danger zone include ready-to-eat items like cookies, crackers, bread and whole fruit.

With more than 100,000 downloads on both the Android and iOS smartphones, the FoodKeeper application is quickly establishing itself as the quick reference go-to guide for safe food storage. Available in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, the FoodKeeper has information on safe storage of leftovers and 400+ different food and drink items.

Consumers can learn more about key food safety practices at Foodsafety.gov and follow @USDAFoodSafety on Twitter. Consumers with questions about food safety can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist in English or Spanish at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.

Processed Foods: The Pros and Cons – A Balanced View

In food processing, harvested crops or butchered animals are used as the raw ingredients for making and packaging food products that are attractive, marketable and have long-shelf lives.

Attractive means that the product both tastes and looks good. To be marketable, it must match the kinds of food being demanded by consumers. Food products that have a long-shelf life reduce the costs of wastage for producers, distributors and retailers.

Development of food processing

Food processing dates back to our prehistory – when fire was discovered and cooking invented. The various ways in which food can be cooked are all forms of food processing.

Food preservation also began in prehistory, and the first 'long shelf-life' foods were produced by drying food in the sun and by preserving food with salt. Preservation with salt was common with soldiers, sailors and other travelers until canning was invented in the early 19th century.

The ancient Bulgarians invented the first instant food (bulgur) nearly 8.000 years ago, when found a way to parboil and dry whole wheat so that the grain only has to be reheated before it can be eaten.

One of the first ready-to-eat meals was devised by the ancient Celts when they invented the haggis and what is now known as the Cornish pasty.

Another processed food, cheese, was invented by the nomads of Arabia when they noticed how milk curdled as they jogged along all day on their camels and ponies.

The prehistoric methods of cooking and preserving food remained largely unchanged until the industrial revolution.

The development of modern food processing technology began in the early 19th century in response to the needs of the military. In 1809 a vacuum bottling technique was invented so Napoleon could feed his troops. Canning was invented in 1810 and, after the makers of the cans stopped using lead (which is highly poisonous) for the inner lining of the tins, canned goods became common throughout the world. Pasteurisation, discovered in 1862, advanced the micro-biological safety of milk and similar products significantly.

Cooling decreases the reproductive rate of bacteria and thus the rate at which food spoils. Cooling as a storage technique has been in use for hundreds of years. Ice-houses, packed with fresh snow during the winter, were used to preserve food by chilling from the mid-18th century onwards and worked fairly well most of the year round in northern climates.

Commercial refrigeration, using toxic refrigerants which made the technology unsafe in the home, was in use for almost four decades before the first domestic refrigerators were introduced in 1915.

Fridges in the home gained wide acceptance in the 1930s when non-toxic and non-flammable refrigerants such as Freon were invented.

The expansion of the food processing industry in the second half of the 20th century was due to three needs: (a) food to feed the troops efficiently during World War II, (b) food that could be consumed under conditions of zero gravity during forays into outer space, and (c) the pursuit of the convenience demanded by the busy consumer society.

To respond to these needs food scientists invented freeze-drying, spray-drying, and juice concentrates among a host of other processing technologies. They also introduced artificial sweeteners, colouring agents and chemical preservatives. In the closing years of the last century they came up with dried instant soups, reconstituted juices and fruits, and the 'self-cooking' meals (MREs) so beloved of military brass but not the grunts.

The 'pursuit of convenience' has lead to the expansion of frozen foods from simple bags of frozen peas to juice concentrates and complex TV dinners. Those who process food now use the perceived value of time as the foundation of their market appeal.

Benefits of processed foods

Initially, processed foods helped to alleviate food shortages and improve overall nutrition by making new foods available globally. Modern food processing delivers many additional benefits:

  • De-activating the pathogenic micro-organisms found in fresh vegetables and raw meats (such as salmonella), reduces food-borne diseases and makes food safer.
  • Because processed foods are less susceptible to spoilage than fresh foods, modern processing, storage and transportation can deliver a wide variety of food from around the world, giving us choices in our supermarkets that would have been unimaginable to our ancestors.
  • Processing can often improve the taste of food, though it can also have the opposite effect.
  • The nutritional value of food can be increased by the addition of extra nutrients and vitamins during processing.
  • The nutritional value can also be made more consistent and reliable.
  • Modern processing technologies can also improve the quality of life for people who have allergies by removing the proteins that cause allergic reactions.
  • The mass production of food means that processed foods are much cheaper to produce than the cost of making meals from raw ingredients at home.

Processed foods are also extremely convenient. Households are freed from the time-consuming tasks of preparing and cooking foods that are in their natural state … the food processing industry makes everything from peeled potatoes ready for boiling to prepared-meals that just have to be heated in a micro-wave oven for a few minutes.

Hazards

Processed foods are undoubtedly a great boon. But all is not sweetness and light.

Generally speaking, fresh unprocessed food will contain a higher proportion of naturally occurring fibre, vitamins and minerals than the same food after processing by the food industry. Vitamin C, for example, is destroyed by heat and so fresh fruit will contain more vitamin C than canned fruit.

Indeed, nutrients are often deliberately removed from food during processing in order to improve taste, appearance or shelf-life. Examples include bread, pasta and ready-made meals.

The result is empty calories. Processed foods have a higher ratio of calories to other essential nutrients than fresh, unprocessed foods. They are often energy-dense while being nutritionally poor.

Processing can introduce hazards that are not found in unprocessed foods, due to additives, preservatives, chemically-hardened vegetable oils or trans-fats, and excessive sugar and salt. Indeed, the additives in processed foods … flavourings, sweeteners, stabilisers, texture-enhancing agents and preservatives among other … may have little or no nutritive value, or may actually be unhealthy.

Preservatives used to extend shelf-life, such as nitrites or sulphites, may lead to ill-health. In fact, the addition of many chemicals for flavouring and preservation has been shown to cause human and animal cells to grow rapidly, without dying off, thus increasing the risk of a variety of cancers.

Cheap ingredients that mimic the properties of natural ingredients, such as trans-fats made by chemically-hardening vegetable oils that take the place of more-expensive natural saturated fats or cold-pressed oils, have been shown to cause severe health problems in numerous studies . But they are still widely used because of their low-cost and consumer ignorance.

Sugars, fats and salts are usually added to processed foods to improve flavour and as preservatives. As diabetics, we are all well aware of the effects of excessive sugar, fat and on our already damaged systems. Eating large amounts of processed food means consuming too much sugars, fats and salts, which, even if you a in full health, can lead to a variety of problems such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, ulcers, stomach cancer, obesity, and of course diabetes.

Another problem with processed foods is that, where low-quality ingredients are used, this can be disguised during manufacturing.

In the processing industry, a food product will go through several intermediate steps in independent factories before it is finalised in the factory that finishes it.

This is similar to the use of sub-contractors in car manufacturing, where many independent factories products parts, such as electrical systems, bumpers, and other sub-systems, in accordance with the final manufacturer's specifications. These parts are then sold to the car plant where the car is finally assembled from the bought-in parts.

Because the ingredients in processed foods are often made in large quantities during the early stages of the manufacturing process, any hygiene problems in the facilities that produce a basic ingredient that is used widely by other factories in the later stages of production can have serious effects on the quality and safety of many final food products.

Despite the hazards, everyone eats processed foods almost exclusively nowadays. As a result, people eat more quickly and no longer seem aware of the way food is grown and how it is a gift of nature.

It seems to me, also, that food has become more of a necessary interruption in our busy lives and less of a social occasion to be enjoyed.

Eating processed foods

You can not get away from eating some processed foods … the convenience is irresistible.

When you eat processed foods you reduce the likelihood of being poisoned or picking up a food-borne disease. The nutritional value of what you eat may be more consistent and you will probably be ingesting more nutrients and vitamins than you would get by eating only unprocessed food.

On the other hand, by eating processed foods you are exposing yourself to a potential loss of heat-sensitive vitamins and nutrients that are removed to improve shelf-life, taste and appearance. You are also exposing yourself to the potential adverse effects on your health of various additives and preservatives, some of which can be very serious indeed.

The calorie-dense nature of processed foods, due to the large quantities of sugars and fats they contain, makes them extremely problematic for diabetics and those with high cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

The only solution is to choose the processed foods you buy with extreme care – by reading the labels on the packaging – and to focus your diet on fresh or frozen produce as much as possible.

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HOW I STARTED A HEALTHY RAW FOOD VEGAN DIET || HOW I LOST WEIGHT



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Organic Food Trend in Singapore

The new study by the Organic Monitor named The World of Organic Agriculture: Statistics & Emerging Trends 2010 reported that the global organic sales reached $ 50.9 billion in 2008, double the $ 25 billion recorded in 2003. Projected growth is between 20 and 30 percents, worldwide.

The organic food trend, which started in the 70s as a reaction to widespread use of agrochemicals in food production is now a major player in the food production and is not just a niche any more. The trend encompasses consumers, agricultural producers, food distributors, farmers, and affects even the financial market.

Organic agriculture started as local phenomena, people growing food mostly for themselves and for their neighbors. This trend grew into a growing popularity of small local producers, which could produce healthy, fresh food on a small scale for a reasonable price.

A lot has changed since. In 2008, land farmed organically in the world totaled 35 million hectares. This acreage was farmed by 1.4 million producers from 154 countries. The area of ​​organic agricultural land increased all over the world by nine percent compared to 2007. The majority – 22 million hectares – were grassland. More than 8.2 million hectares were used for cropland. Almost 31 million hectares that are organic are wild collection areas and land for bee keeping.

The regions with the largest area of ​​organically managed land are Oceania (12.1 million hectares in Australia, New Zealand, and surrounding island states), Europe (8.2 million hectares), and Latin America (8.1 million hectares).

Spire Research and Consulting together with the SP Joint Center of Management, Singapore, published the results of their study, which found that, from the small market in 2002 worth just about S $ 10,000, organic market grew to S $ 68 million in 2008. This growth trend is expected to continue at the rate of 20 to 30 percent per year.

Although the price of organic food in Singapore is about 112 percents higher than the price of the same produce grown traditionally, this did not deter the loyal organic shoppers. When interviewed, they said that the economic crisis did not force them to change their habits. Their reason for choosing organic food were the same as in the rest of the world: health safety, superior taste, environmental concern and fashion consciousness.

The study found that the organic market in Singapore still consists of high and middle income locals and expatriates, and in order to continue growing needs to reach the mass market. The suggested measure is to introduce government certification of local organic growers, in order to increase confidence of shoppers.
According to the CNN, organic food continued popularity trend parallels other similar trends, all related to the increased health concerns of average consumers: slow cooking, vegetarianism, flexitarianism (mostly plant-based diet), locally grown food and functional foods (foods with added value like vitamins).

The healthy eating is not the only reason for the continuous popularity of organic food. There is also an increased search for healthier lifestyle, especially among baby-boomers, who are reaching retirement age and searching for more meaningful existence. Many are opting for organic agriculture, as a way to live and to feed themselves.

Ancient Tooth Decay Reveals That the Paleo Diet Contained Carbs

Paleo diet dishes involve concepts like “Pizza Soup” and “Pumpkin Chili,” which sound intriguing until you realize they are just carbohydrate-free versions of already-perfect foods. The fad diet, which is supposed to mimic the eating habits of paleolithic humans, is characterized by its lack of carbs and excess of raw plants and vegetables. But all that starchy goodness may have been cut in vain: New research on actual paleolithic teeth shows that carbohydrates were definitely on the menu.

In a new paper, published in the journal The Science of Nature, researchers examining the molars of a 1.2 million-year-old hominin dug up in northern Spain report traces of starchy carbohydrates in the individual’s teeth. By examining the microfossils within its dental calculus — another word for the plaque that builds up around the teeth — the researchers found evidence of starchy carbohydrates from two plants. One of those plants is thought to belong to the tribe Triticeae — which also includes some of modern Sapiens’ favorite carbs, like wheat, barley, and rye.

I'll take a biscuit with that.

I’ll take a biscuit with that.

The dental plaques, the researchers write, is “the earliest direct evidence for foods consumed in the genus Homo.” The hominin whose teeth they’d pilfered had been unearthed in Sima del Elefante (Pit of the Elephants), Atapuerca, Spain, in 2007, and the team had extracted one of its molars; from this single tooth — and the tiny fossils of bacteria and other living material found in its plaque — the researchers also concluded that the early human also ate plenty of raw protein and plants.

In that sense, Paleo diet enthusiasts didn’t get their facts completely wrong: Their emphasis on eating raw food is consistent with the researchers’ finding that “all food was eaten raw, and there is no evidence for processing of the starch granules which are intact and undamaged.” The more important question, however, is whether the premise that Paleolithic diets are more appropriate for human nutrition, because they have not changed much over millennia, is actually true. According to study lead author Karen Hardy, Ph.D., the evolution of salivary amylase — the enzyme modern humans use to break down starchy food — coincided with the development of cooking in prehistoric humans, so it’s clear that our species have made some adaptations since then. Still, it’s almost certainly true that human digestive systems aren’t equipped to eat highly processed fast foods, either; it’s unlikely that three generations — the amount of familial turnover there’s been since the first McDonald’s opened in 1940 — is enough time for new digestive functions to evolve.

Photos via Flickr / dollen

Famous Restaurant Copycat Recipes

Everyone is trying to save money these days, which means you're probably not eating out as much as you would like. However, you can make a number of the recipes you love at home, so you put more money in the monthly budget.

Here are some famous restaurant copycats recipes you may want to try, as well as the best sources for finding restaurant recipes that are easy to make at home.

If you love Mexican food, chances are you've visited a Don Pablo's for dinner if you have one in your city. One of the most famous restaurant recipes from the restaurant is the Burrito Grande, which is filled with fajita meat and vegetables.

To make this dish, you'll need marinated and grilled steak or chicken (you can add your own seasoning combination if you like) as well as pico de gallo and guacamole. A combination of cheeses, including sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, should be used in the dish for an authentic Mexican flavor, and you can use lettuce and tomato to add to the nutritional value of the burrito.

Side dishes include Mexican rice, and you can also add refried beans to the meal for a filling dinner that your whole family will love. The meal is served with chips and salsa, and you can garnish the plate with tortilla strips and a serving of sour cream so that you'll feel like you're having a meal at Don Pablo's.

If you like to take the family to Applebee's often, you may also want to try famous restaurant copycats recipes from this eatery, especially if you love dessert.

The Deadly Chocolate Sin is a cake that is rich and flavorful – and one that you probably have more times than you should. So, if you're making the cake at home, you can substitute the butter for margarine, as well as alternative forms of sugar that will be just as tasty.

You'll need ingredients like semisweet and bitter chocolate, as well as vanilla extract (vanilla bean extract will also add great flavor) and eggs to make the recipe come together, and red raspberries in heavy syrup (for topping).

Baking the cakes in small ramekins so that each member of the family will have their own dessert will also add a special touch that will make you feel as though you're dining out even when you're saving money.

Police blotter: Homeless women gets sick after eating raw food she allegedly stole; daughter threatens mom | Butte-Silver Bow Police Blotter

Butte resident Nova White, 19, was arrested and charged with partner-family member assault with reasonable apprehension at about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday. White threatened to kill her mother and burn the house down, police said. The victim is a 42-year-old female.

A Butte homeless woman, Michelle Pehringer, 47, ate raw hamburger and raw shrimp and chased it down with lemonade-flavored beer at Stokes Market at 1301 Harrison Avenue 8 p.m. Tuesday. Police arrived to arrest her for shoplifting. She was eating the food and drinking while still in the store. She also took a Bud Light Chelada and ate half of a deli sandwich. Police found Pehringer extremely intoxicated. She reported feeling sick. Pehringer faces shoplifting charges.

Butte police arrested Thayne Allen, 38, at about 4 p.m. Tuesday in the 200 block of West Silver Street for assault with a weapon. He got into an argument with his downstairs neighbor over the use of his car. When another male showed up, Allen went upstairs, took a rock being used as a doorstop and threw it at the female victim, who was still downstairs. The victim, 29, received an injury to her forehead and was transported to St. James Healthcare due to reports of dizziness.

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Butte police arrested Anaconda resident Joseph Fuller, 25, for DUI refusal at about 2 a.m. Wednesday at Utah and Front. Police spotted Fuller speeding in a white pickup truck in the 500 block of South Main St. Police followed Fuller for several blocks and saw the truck bounce off of snow piles and almost hit a parked car. Police gave him a field sobriety test but he refused to take a Breathalyzer. In addition to being charged with DUI refusal, he was also charged with an open container, speeding and changing lanes in an unsafe manner.

Police blotter: Homeless woman gets sick after eating raw food she allegedly stole; daughter threatens mom | Butte-Silver Bow Police Blotter

Butte resident Nova White, 19, was arrested and charged with partner-family member assault with reasonable apprehension at about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday. White threatened to kill her mother and burn the house down, police said. The victim is a 42-year-old female.

A Butte homeless woman, Michelle Pehringer, 47, ate raw hamburger and raw shrimp and chased it down with lemonade-flavored beer at Stokes Market at 1301 Harrison Avenue 8 p.m. Tuesday. Police arrived to arrest her for shoplifting. She was eating the food and drinking while still in the store. She also took a Bud Light Chelada and ate half of a deli sandwich. Police found Pehringer extremely intoxicated. She reported feeling sick. Pehringer faces shoplifting charges.

Butte police arrested Thayne Allen, 38, at about 4 p.m. Tuesday in the 200 block of West Silver Street for assault with a weapon. He got into an argument with his downstairs neighbor over the use of his car. When another male showed up, Allen went upstairs, took a rock being used as a doorstop and threw it at the female victim, who was still downstairs. The victim, 29, received an injury to her forehead and was transported to St. James Healthcare due to reports of dizziness.

Get breaking news sent instantly to your inbox

Butte police arrested Anaconda resident Joseph Fuller, 25, for DUI refusal at about 2 a.m. Wednesday at Utah and Front. Police spotted Fuller speeding in a white pickup truck in the 500 block of South Main St. Police followed Fuller for several blocks and saw the truck bounce off of snow piles and almost hit a parked car. Police gave him a field sobriety test but he refused to take a Breathalyzer. In addition to being charged with DUI refusal, he was also charged with an open container, speeding and changing lanes in an unsafe manner.

Dental Plaque Reveals Earliest Humans Didn’t Cook

What's Cookin'? Nothing, If You Were an Early Human

Archaeologists (not the ones involved in the new study) excavate Sima del Elefante (Pit of the Elephant) in Spain’s Atapuerca Mountains in 2015. The pit contains remains of human relatives who lived in Europe about 1.2 million years ago.

Credit: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez | Getty Images

About a million years before steak tartare came into fashion, Europe’s earliest humans were eating raw meat and uncooked plants. But their raw cuisine wasn’t a trendy diet; rather, they had yet to use fire for cooking, a new study finds.

The finding is based on a dental plaque analysis from a 1.2-million-year-old hominin, an early human, excavated from Sima del Elefante (Pit of the Elephant) in northern Spain. In 2007, the Atapuerca research team took samples of the dental plaque from a hominin molar, and later a team of archaeologists extracted microfossils from the plaque so they could learn more about the diet of early humans.

The microfossils included traces of raw animal tissue, uncooked starch granules (suggesting that the hominin ate grasses and a species of pine), insect fragments and a possible toothpick sliver, the researchers said. [In Photos: Hominin Skulls with Mixed Traits Discovered]

All of the fibers in the plaque were uncharred, and researchers found no evidence of microcharcoal inhalation, usually a sign that an individual was near a fire, they said.

“Obtaining evidence for any aspect of hominin life at this extremely early date is very challenging,” the study’s lead author, Karen Hardy, an honorary research associate at the University of York in England, said in a statement. “Here, we have been able to demonstrate that these earliest Europeans understood and exploited their forested environment to obtain a balanced diet 1.2 million years ago, by eating a range of different foods and combining starchy plant food with meat,” added Hardy, who is also a research professor at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain.

It’s not entirely clear when human ancestors first used fire for cooking. Some researchers say that early humans were regularly tending fires about 1.8 million years ago, but others say habitual use of fire didn’t begin until about 300,000 to 400,000 years ago, according to excavations showing concentrated ash and charcoal, sediments reddened by heat, rocks scarred by heat and burned bones, Live Science reported in 2011.

There is suggestive evidence of fire at early human sites in Africa, according to a 2013 study in the journal Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, but that knowledge apparently wasn’t transmitted to Europe (or, at least, Sima del Elefante) when the earliest humans left Africa, said the researchers of the new study.

The earliest evidence for human-tended fires in Europe dates to 800,000 years ago at Cueva Negra (in Spain) and a short time later at Gesher Benot Ya’aqov (in Israel).

Given that the early humans at Sima del Elefante likely didn’t have fire 1.2 million years ago, awareness of fire technology probably occurred sometime between 1.2 million and 800,000 years ago in Europe, the researchers said. 

“This new timeline has significant implications in helping us to understand this period of human evolution,” Hardy said. “Cooked food provides greater energy, and cooking may be linked to the rapid increases in brain size that occurred from 800,000 years ago onwards.”

In addition, the new timeline fits with research suggesting that cooking with fire is linked to the development of salivary amylase, which breaks down starch, Hardy said. “Starchy food was an essential element in facilitating brain development, and contrary to popular belief about the ‘Paleodiet,’ the role of starchy food in the Palaeolithic diet was significant,” she said. [Top 10 Mysteries of the First Humans]

The findings are “exciting,” said study co-author Anita Radini, a doctoral student of archaeology at the University of York.

“They highlight the potential of dental calculus to store dietary and environmental information from deep in the human evolutionary past,” Radini said. “It is also interesting to see that pollen remains are preserved often in better conditions than in the soil of the same age.”

The study was published online Dec. 15 in the journal The Science of Nature.

Original article on Live Science.