Monday, December 19, 2016

Food Safety for the Latino Community During “Navidad” (Christmas) and “Fin de Año” (End of the Year)

The holidays are a time when Latinos celebrate religious, social, and family traditions passed down from generation to generation. Latinos celebrate Navidad and the farewell to the old year with joy and wishes for prosperity in the New Year. House parties and traditional foods are popular during this transition period. But it is also during this time of the year when you could make your family and guests sick if you don’t follow basic food safety steps.

While we’re sure you all have your favorite traditional recipes, we have a few recommendations to keep in mind while preparing those mouthwatering dishes passed down from our “abuelas” (grandmothers). Here are some tips to help hosts and guests eat safely at holiday parties.

Before you start, always wash your hands before you start preparing foods following these simple steps: wet your hands, lather with soap, scrub for at least 20 seconds, rinse with clean water, and dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry them; skipping this step is a top cause of foodborne illnesses.

Wash cutting surfaces, and utensils. Always serve food on clean plates and avoid using those previously holding raw meat and poultry. Otherwise, bacteria that may have been present in raw meat juices can cross contaminate the food to be served. Replace empty platters instead of adding fresh food to a dish that already had food in it. People's hands may have been touching the dish while taking food from it, or the dish could also has been sitting out at room temperature too long. Use clean utensils to serve food plates and not those used in preparation of the raw food.

Separate raw and cooked foods so you don't cause cross contamination. That is, transferring bacteria from raw food onto ready-to eat food. For example, if you are preparing a ham and raw veggies for a dip platter, don’t let the raw meat come in contact with the vegetables, or food that does not require further cooking such as sliced, cooked meat and cheese.

Use a food thermometer to make sure food reaches a safe 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. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.

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. And keep in mind: If you're transporting hot, cooked food from one location to another, keep it hot by carrying it in an insulated container. Need more information about food thermometers, visit

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. You never want to 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 in your food to make partygoers sick. Exceptions to the danger zone include ready-to-eat items like cookies, crackers, bread and whole fruit.

No one wants to end a family gathering or a “fiesta” in the emergency room of a hospital, but that’s what could happen if food isn’t handled, served, and store safely. Bacteria are party crashers, and the only holiday gift they bring is foodborne illness.

Handling ham: How can I store and prepare fully cooked ham?

There are two types of hams: fully cooked, which are ready-to-eat right out of the package and those that require cooking before eating. Fully cooked hams may be
eaten cold or reheated to 140 °F. When storing these hams, see the "best if used by" dates on the label. These are dates recommended by the manufacturer to indicate when a product will be of best flavor or quality. Use store-wrapped cooked ham portions within three to five days.

"Cook-before-eating" hams must be cooked to 145 °F and allowed to rest for at least three minutes to destroy harmful bacteria that may be present. Use within seven days.

Roasting holiday meats: Can I cook my holiday meats at temperatures less than 250 °F? Can I use an oven bag for roasting my turkey?

During the holidays, people tend to spend more money for specialty meats and roasting is a recommended method for cooking tender meats that will make a lasting impression on your guests. To keep the meat tender and minimize shrinkage due to the evaporation of moisture, an oven temperature of 325 °F should be used. It is not recommended to cook meat and poultry at oven temperatures lower than 325 °F because these foods could remain in the "Danger Zone" (temperatures of 40 to 140 °F) too long and allow bacteria to multiply rapidly and cause foodborne illness.

Turkey Roasting Chart Using Oven Bags


8-12 lb. turkey

1½ to 2 hours

12-16 lb. turkey

2 to 2½ hours

16-20 lb. turkey

2½ to 3 hours

20-24 lb. turkey

3 to 3½ hours

 When using an oven bag for your turkey, refer to the directions on the package for the manufacturer’s recommended cooking times. For whole, unstuffed turkeys in oven cooking bags, cook at 350 °F for the following approximate times. Add 30 minutes to the
times if you are stuffing the turkey.

EPA Announces 2016 Annual Environmental Enforcement Results

EPA Announces 2016 Annual Environmental Enforcement Results WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced its 2016 annual enforcement and compliance results, highlighted by a series of high-impact cases that are delivering environmental and public health benefits to communities across the country. During EPA’s 2016 fiscal year—which spanned October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016—EPA enforcement actions secured $13.7 billion in investments by companies for projects to control pollution. EPA also secured enforceable commitments that ensure the proper treatment, storage and disposal of an estimated 62 billion pounds of hazardous waste, the majority coming through a settlement with Mosaic Fertilizer for their eight facilities across Florida and Louisiana. Two recent landmark settlements—one with BP and one with Volkswagen—are among the most comprehensive and impactful environmental cases in U.S. history. On April 4, 2016, the court entered an agreement with BP for a $20.8 billion settlement to resolve Clean Water Act violations stemming from the Deepwater Horizon blowout and resulting oil spill, with more than $20 billion going to restore impacted communities and the environment. In a case that was lodged in fiscal year 2015 but not entered by the court until October 25, 2016, Volkswagen agreed to spend up to $14.7 billion on projects to reduce air pollution, remedy environmental damage and buy back 2.0 liter diesel vehicles to settle allegations of using illegal software to cheat emissions tests and deceive customers. “EPA’s enforcement work continues to hold violators accountable and deliver investments to reduce pollution in our communities,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The American public depends on EPA to enforce the law, protect our communities from pollution and help ensure a level playing field for responsible companies.” To view an interactive map showing the location of EPA’s 2016 enforcement actions, click here EPA’s 2016 enforcement efforts also secured: • More than $1 billion in commitments from responsible parties to clean up Superfund sites, and return $55 million to the Superfund trust. • Commitments from companies to reduce, treat or eliminate releases of pollution by an estimated 324 million pounds per year. • Clean up of an estimated 174 million cubic yards of contaminated water or aquifers and 17 million cubic yards of contaminated soil. • A combined $6 billion in federal administrative, civil judicial penalties and criminal penalties. • $207 million in criminal fines and restitution, and a combined 93 years of incarceration for criminal violations of federal environmental laws. EPA continued to pursue high impact cases to drive compliance and tackle the biggest pollution problems across industries: • Tesoro Corp., one of the largest fuel refiners in the U.S., and Par Hawaii Refining will improve public health protections by spending $403 million on advanced pollution control equipment to reduce air pollution at six refineries and $12 million on projects to improve public health in local communities previously impacted by pollution. • Enbridge, which owns and operates one of the world’s largest oil pipeline systems, will spend at least $110 million on implementing a series of state-of-the-art leak detection and monitoring measures to prevent spills, improve operations and protect communities across nearly 2,000 miles of its pipeline system in the Great Lakes region, following oil spills in Michigan and Illinois in 2010. Enbridge is also paying $62 million in penalties. • In a settlement with Marathon Petroleum Company, the company will spend $319 million to install state-of-the-art air pollution controls at refineries in five different states, protecting the health of low-income and other vulnerable communities across the Southeast and Midwest. • Sears will implement a comprehensive, corporate-wide program to ensure its contractors minimize lead dust from home renovation activities to protect the health of children and other vulnerable communities from exposure to lead-based paint. • A settlement with Southern Coal Corporation and its affiliates requires the companies to comprehensively upgrade their coal mining and processing operations, at an estimated cost of $5 million, to prevent polluted wastewater from threatening rivers and streams and overburdened communities across Appalachia. • A settlement with national grocery store chain Trader Joe’s Company will reduce potent greenhouse gas emissions from refrigeration equipment at 453 stores nationwide and sets a high standard for the grocery industry for detecting and fixing coolant leaks. • EPA is working closely with local governments and utilities in communities such as Salt Lake County, Utah, Greenville, Miss. and the city of Rockford, Ill. to cut discharges of raw sewage and contaminated stormwater through integrated planning, green infrastructure and other innovative approaches. More information about EPA’s fiscal year 2016 enforcement results: R205

Updated NMSU publication on Water Quality for Livestock and Poultry

Guide M-112: Water Quality for Livestock and Poultry Revised by Rossana Sallenave (Extension Aquatic Ecology Specialist, Dept. of Extension Animal Sciences and Natural Resources)

The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas (In New Mexico Is) By Woods E. Houghton, et. al. Twas the night before Christmas, In New Mexico you know, Way out on the prairie, without any snow. Asleep in their cabin, were Buddy and Sue, A dreaming of Christmas, like me and like you. Not stockings but boots, at the foot of their beds, For this was New Mexico, What more need be said? When all of a sudden from out the still night, There came such a ruckus, it gave me a fright! And I saw cross the prairie, like the shot from a gun, A loaded up buckboard, Come on at a run. The driver was "whistling" and "shouting" with a will, The "Horses" (not reindeer) he drove with such skill. "Come on there Buck, Poncho, and Prince, to the right" There'll be plenty of travelin' for you-all tonight.. The driver in his Levis, and a shirt that was red, Had a 10 gallon stetson on the top of his head. As he stepped from the buckboard, he was really a sight, with his beard and mustacho,,so curly and white. As he burst in the casa, the children awoke, And both so astonished, that neither one spoke. And he filled up their boots with such presents galore, That neither could think of a single thing more. When Buddy recovered the use of his jaws, He asked in a whisper "Are you really Santa Claus?" "Am I the real Santa? Well, what do you think? And he smiled as he gave his mysterious wink. Then he left in his buckboard, and called back in a drawl, TO ALL CHILDREN OF NEW MEXICO - FELIZ NAVIDAD

Monday, December 12, 2016

Safe Toys and Gifts

Many children receive toys during the holidays. Make sure to check that the toys are safe by looking at these great resources:

December is National Egg Nog Month

Beware of drinking eggnog made with raw eggs during the holidays! Many older classic holiday recipes call for raw eggs. This cooking practice is not considered safe because of possible Salmonella infection. Here are some resources if you want to drink eggnog:

Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamin A. Pumpkin pie is a great way to get vitamin A into your diet.
Try these delicious recipes:
Additional pumpkin recipes:

Oatmeal Muffin Recipes

Adding oatmeal to your muffins gives them a nutritional boost! Oatmeal is classified as a whole grain and can help reduce blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and obesity. Grabbing an oatmeal muffin makes a perfect on-the-go breakfast option. Make sure to add a glass of low-fat or nonfat milk on your way out. The best way to celebrate Oatmeal Muffin Day is to try one of these recipes:

Upside-Down Strawberries and Ice Cream: Cut the Calories, Keep the Flavor

If you're watching your weight and have put ice cream on your "don't eat" list, think again ...
Instead of a big dish of ice cream TOPPED by a handful of strawberries, enjoy a bowl of berries capped with a small scoop (about 1/2 cup) of ice cream.
ONE cup of strawberries provides about 50 calories and a generous amount of fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants. A half cup of a light ice cream adds about 100 calories, as well as calcium. Or, substitute ONE sliced medium-sized peach (2-1/2 diameter) for the strawberries for about 40 calories.
With a total of around 150 calories for the fruit plus ice cream, your taste buds AND your waistline can be happy!
Source of calorie information: USDA National Nutrient Database 

Resources for Sending Food to the Mililtary

Want to send a food gift to someone in the military? Here are some links to help you.

Food safety rules include holiday pies

Pies are traditionally served at holiday feasts, but some need to be treated carefully, according to Beth Reames, a nutritionist with the LSU AgCenter.
To prevent foodborne illness, pumpkin, custard and cream pies and others containing eggs and milk and pecan pies made with eggs should be refrigerated within two hours of preparation, Reames says. And they shouldn’t be left at room temperature for more than two hours when they’re being served.
Holiday cakes, cookies and breads with perishable fillings or frosting also should be refrigerated.
“Eggs and milk have high protein and moisture content,” she says. “Bacteria can multiply rapidly when foods containing these perishable items are left at room temperature. Refrigerate perishables, prepared foods and leftovers within two hours.”
Pies containing eggs and milk should be baked to at least 160 degrees, cooled quickly and refrigerated until they’re served, Reames says. Leftovers should be returned to the refrigerator.
“Commercial pumpkin pies have preservatives and other ingredients added to make them shelf-stable,” Reames says. “They may be displayed and stored at room temperature, but once cut, they should be refrigerated. Check the label on commercially baked pies for storage requirements.”
Leftover fruit pie, which typically is prepared without eggs, can be covered and stored unrefrigerated for up to two days. To maintain best quality, however, refrigerate them. The nutritionist recommends storing fruit pies in the refrigerator during warm weather. 

Traveling with Food to Gatherings of Family and Friends

It's a time-honored tradition for many people to bring food to gatherings, such as holiday meals. How do you decide who brings what or how to travel with food if you're asked to bring something?
When assigning foods or deciding what to take, consider type of food and distance to travel. Remember the 2-hour rule: Avoid leaving perishable foods at room temperature longer than 2 hours (1 hour in warmer seasons when the temperature is over 90 F). The 2 hours includes preparation time for foods that aren't cooked or foods that need more preparation steps after cooking.
People traveling a long distance might bring non-perishables such as rolls, breads and cookies. Those traveling about a half hour or less can more safely bring perishable foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products or foods containing these items. Nearer relatives also are a better choice for providing salads, relishes and vegetables.
When traveling with food, keep HOT foods hot (140 F or higher) by wrapping them in foil, and then in heavy towels. Or, carry them in insulated wrappers or containers designed to keep food hot.
Place COLD foods in a cooler with ice or freezer packs or an insulated container with a cold pack so they remain at 40 F or lower, especially if traveling over a half hour.
On arrival, place cold foods in the refrigerator. Place hot foods in an oven hot enough to keep the food at an internal temperature of 140 F or above; use a food thermometer to assure the food stays at a safe internal temperature. Plan to serve foods shortly after guests have arrived.
Another possibility is to carry all perishable food in an ice chest and come early. Then prepare the food after you arrive.
Remember: If you travel with food, take a detour around the "danger zone." Keep hot foods hot (140 F or higher) and cold foods cold (40 F or lower).