Category Archives: Food safety

Thanksgiving resources for Michigan residents

Table with Thanksgiving dishes and beverages.

Once again, as November rolls around, we begin to get questions about preparing Thanksgiving dinner and ensuring food safety. Our educators have done a great job of creating resources on our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension website. A year ago, I blogged about their work, and it was my most-read November post, so I thought it would be helpful to post it again this year in case you get calls to your offices or questions from loved ones.

In “Be Thankful for Food Safety This Thanksgiving,” Michigan State University (MSU) Extension health and nutrition educator Jane Hart guides us through all of our favorite foods – turkey, stuffing, relish and pumpkin pie – and tells us how to make sure that they are safe to eat.

Jeannie Nichols, health and nutrition educator, writes about two U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations for preparing and cooking your Thanksgiving turkey, or any poultry for that matter. In her article, Jeannie explains why the USDA recommends that you do not rinse it before cooking it and that you do make sure it is cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. She also explains how to most effectively measure it.

Need some help with thawing times for turkey? Laurie Messing, health and nutrition educator, shares the safe ways to thaw food in her article “Thawing the Thanksgiving Turkey.”

If you won’t have time to thaw your turkey, Jeannie writes about how to safely roast a frozen one in her “Frozen Turkey for Thanksgiving” article.

Learn from health and nutrition educator Beth Waitrovich why the USDA recommends cooking stuffing outside of your turkey.

After the last forkful of pumpkin pie, many of us have leftovers to save – another important moment in food safety. Laurie explains how to properly store and use leftover turkey.

Need help in a pinch on Thanksgiving Day? Thankfully, Laurie shares with us that the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, staffed by food safety specialists, will be answering food safety questions on Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Eastern Time. The phone number is 1-888-674-6854.

Lastly, to refer people to safe food and water experts in their area, visit our MSU Extension website.  

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Filed under Food, Food safety, health, Health and Nutrition, Nutrition, Resources

Pumpkin everything

Giant wooden bins filled with pumpkins, trees in the background.

You can tell it’s fall when you start seeing pumpkin everything: pumpkin lattes, pie, muffins, soups, cookies, cakes, coffee creamer, ice cream and Cheerios – what? Today, I thought I’d point out some great resources that our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educators have created to help us get into the pumpkin spirit.

First, we’ll need to know how to pick the perfect pumpkin. Good thing we have the “How to Choose the Right Pumpkin” resource by MSU Extension educator Jeannie Nichols with information on finding fully mature and delicious pumpkins.

Once we’ve found the right pumpkin, we turn to MSU Extension educator Lisa Treiber who prepared a great Michigan Fresh bulletin on using, storing and preserving pumpkins with detailed instructions and recommendations.

In case you’d like to dive deeper into pumpkin preservation, MSU Extension educator Stephanie Ostrenga has some important information in her “Pumpkin Preservation Safety Tips” article.

MSU Extension educator Stephanie Marino also has great advice on “Incorporating Pumpkin Into Your Diet This Season” with recipes included.

To fully immerse ourselves in all things pumpkin, the MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center in Novi is hosting their annual Pumpkinfest Oct.7–8, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. that draws about 6,000 visitors. This will be a fantastic event for the whole family with a children’s straw maze, educational exhibits, music, pumpkin bowling, antique tractors, the MSU Bug House and more. On Sept. 27, we received MSU Extension educator Alan Jaros’ email encouraging us all to attend, represent our program areas at the event and bring interactive elements to engage the crowd. This is a great opportunity to show off what we do and celebrate all things pumpkin. If you have questions or if you would like to sign up, contact Aba Holmes at holme146@anr.msu.edu. Hope you can make it.

Happy pumpkin season, everyone!

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Thanksgiving resources for Michigan residents

A pumpkin pie with a piece cut out and sitting on a dish.

Photo by alcinoe at Morguefile.com

I don’t know about your offices, but here in the Director’s office, we get a lot of calls in November with questions about preparing for Thanksgiving dinner and food safety. Our educators have done a great job of getting out that information and resources on our website. I thought I’d mention some here in case you get any questions in your office or even from friends and family.

In “Be Thankful for Food Safety This Thanksgiving,” Michigan State University (MSU) Extension health and nutrition educator Jane Hart guides us through all of our favorite foods – turkey, stuffing, relish and pumpkin pie – and tells us how to make sure that they are safe to eat.

Jeannie Nichols, health and nutrition educator, writes about two U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations for preparing and cooking your Thanksgiving turkey, or any poultry for that matter. In her article, Jeannie explains why the USDA recommends that you do not rinse it before cooking it and that you do make sure it is cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. She also explains how to most effectively measure it.

Need some help with thawing times for turkey? Laurie Messing, health and nutrition educator, shares the safe ways to thaw food in her article “Thawing the Thanksgiving Turkey.”

If you won’t have time to thaw your turkey, Jeannie writes about how to safely roast a frozen one in her “Frozen Turkey for Thanksgiving” article.

Learn from health and nutrition educator Beth Waitrovich why the USDA recommends cooking stuffing outside of your turkey.

After the last forkful of pumpkin pie, many of us have leftovers to save – another important moment in food safety. Laurie explains how to properly store and use leftover turkey.

Looking for a new recipe to try with your turkey leftovers? Beth has a quick and easy turkey soup with vegetables that will be perfect for those chilly couple of days after the holiday.

Need help in a pinch on Thanksgiving Day? Thankfully, Laurie shares with us that the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, staffed by food safety specialists, will be answering food safety questions on Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Eastern Time. The phone number is 1-888-674-6854.

Lastly, to refer people to safe food and water experts in their area, visit our MSU Extension website.

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Great Thanksgiving and Holiday advice … From all of YOU!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving and no one should be checking their email, I thought I would make this week’s Spotlight a little shorter and send it today, so that you can all get to your families and celebrations.

You are all amazing, and the following highlighted articles are receiving tremendous hits – 1,403 in the last 30 days! This is just a small sampling, and many others have had a lot of success as well. A lot of you have used this holiday as a launching point to create informative and timely articles on the Michigan State University Extension website. Here’s a sampling of the articles I’ve seen!

To make sure you’re safe in the kitchen while preparing such a huge meal, make sure you follow these tips to keep safe from kitchen fires. And if you haven’t properly thawed your turkey yet, you might want to cook it frozen. Also, did you know that cooking stuffing inside the turkey might not be the safest way to cook it? Learn more in the video below:

You may have kids home this week that are very excited about Thanksgiving and the holiday season beginning, and you can help them appreciate it more by explaining why we eat cranberries at Thanksgiving, or by teaching them to appreciate the science behind mashed potatoes and gravy.

I know that some of you will be starting your holiday shopping this weekend, so look to your colleagues for advice on choosing the right Christmas tree and keeping that tree fresh through the holiday season. You might also want to create a budget for your Christmas presents so that you don’t break the bank and learn more about the return policies for stores where you’ll be buying presents before you camp out for Black Friday deals.

After this weekend is over, don’t forget about food safety. Throw out any remaining leftovers to keep your family safe. You may also consider inviting friends and neighbors to partake in your festivities while the food is still fresh, to help those struggling with hunger in your community.

I am thankful for all of you and the excellent education and service you provide for the people of the state of Michigan. Have safe travels and food preparation! Happy Thanksgiving!

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Without power? Follow expert advice

Sunday night’s storm left many of us without power. An article Michigan State University Extension educator Lisa Treiber wrote back in April contains advice still relevant today. “Don’t Open the Freezer When the Power Is Out” gives helpful information to help you decide whether you need to discard that food or not. It also gives tips on being better prepared the next time the power goes out.

The United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service put out the guide A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes. Page 3 has some helpful advice about what’s safe to eat in your refrigerator after a power outage. Check out the tables on pages 8 through 11 for a list of common foods – what you can save and what you shouldn’t save after the power goes out.

Another MSU Extension article “Planning and Preparing for a Power Outage” by MSU Extension educator Jodi Schulz gives resources to help prepare for a power outage and ideas to keep your children busy until the power comes back on. I know that some of you have heard you will be without power until Saturday so I know these ideas may come in handy.

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Cottage Food Law Food Safety training available online

Michigan State University Extension Health and Nutrition Food Safety team developed a new Michigan Cottage Food Law: Food Safety Training now available online at http://msue.anr.msu.edu/programs/cottage_food_law. The interactive webinar provides food safety training to Michigan residents who want to operate their own cottage food business. Besides educating Michigan residents about the Cottage Food Law, it also provides food safety training so that business owners sell safe food products to customers.

 After viewing the webinar, users will take a short quiz and then receive a certificate they can display when selling cottage foods at farmers markets, festivals and other sales locations. Although not required to sell cottage foods, the certificate is evidence that business owners have participated in food safety training related to cottage foods. Look at farmers markets and you’ll find vendors displaying their certificates as one more reason to buy their home-made products.

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Extension educator gives tips on holiday food safety on WJR

Thanksgiving is a week away. Wait, is that right?  Oh my, I am SO far behind in preparing for that! Anyway, it is a great time to focus on the things we are thankful for, and let’s face it, it’s a great time to eat! Have you ever wondered if those turkey pop-up timers are really accurate? Heck, I have two meat thermometers because I don’t believe them and I’m afraid I’ll get one of them too close to a hot bone. And after a delicious and sometimes sleep-inducing holiday meal, how long can you safely leave the food sitting out until someone musters enough energy or wakes up enough to start putting it away? Learn those answers and more when you listen to Michigan State University Extension educator Jeannie Nichols’ conversation with Kirk Heinze on “Greening of the Great Lakes” on WJR 760 AM.

 Jeannie will share her holiday food safety expertise at 2:08 p.m. this Sunday, Nov. 20. The second part of the conversation will air the following Sunday, Nov. 27, at 7:08 p.m. when she’ll discuss what to do with your food in the freezer in case of a power outage and other food safety issues. If you don’t want to wait till then, you can listen online to both segments combined at MLive.com at http://goo.gl/MDFVe, or visit the “Greening of the Great Lakes” Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/GOTGL. It’s great to have this kind of visibility for our expertise, and Jeannie does a great job of making it clear that food safety isn’t something to take lightly.

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