Penn State Cooperative Extension offers Nutrition Education to People of All Ages

Editor’s Note: The safety tip for the month of November is provided by Mifflin County Communities That Care (CTC). This is an ongoing monthly series provided by CTC to help inform the public about key areas of safety concerns. This month’s article was submitted by Helen Sangrey, Penn State Cooperative Extension Nutrition Education Advisor.

Penn State Cooperative Extension offers a program aimed at helping residents of Mifflin, Juniata, and Huntingdon counties live a healthier lifestyle. This program is called the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).

The EFNEP program focuses on the topics of nutrition for parents with young children, personal development and self sufficiency. This program offers the knowledge and practical skills related to changing eating behaviors and developing a healthier lifestyle – something we all say we NEED to do but may not know HOW to do.

The EFNEP program is offered in small-group settings and is open to residents with limited resources. The small groups allow the participants to get involved in hands-on activities; this encourages people to actually put into practice the skills needed to make positive changes.

The EFNEP program offers classes for pregnant teens. The teens and their partners actively participate in a series of lessons to help prepare them for the responsibility of raising healthy families.

Also offered in this program is a youth-development component that focuses on teaching young people what they need to establish healthy habits early in their lives. Nutrition education is provided to youth in after-school and summer programs.

Food Safety is one part of the EFNEP curriculum. With holiday parties and dinners coming up soon, it’s a good time to be aware of the safety of the food we buy, prepare, eat and store. Food-borne illness can strike anyone, but some people are at higher risk than others, such as pregnant women, young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

The following four simple steps are critical to keeping the food you eat safe and bacteria-free:

 

  • CLEAN– Wash hands and surfaces often
  1. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  2. Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counters tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item.
  3. Use paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces or if you use cloth towels wash them often.
  4. Rinse all fruits and vegetables under running tap water. For firm skin fruits and vegetables rub or clean with a vegetable brush while rinsing.
  • SEPARATE– Don’t cross-contaminate
  1. Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods in your grocery cart, grocery bags and in your refrigerator.
  2. Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood.
  3. Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
  • COOK- Cook to proper temperatures.
  1. Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of cooked foods. Foods must reach the correct internal temperature to kill any bacteria that is present.
  2. Visit www.fightbac.org for a table of proper internal temperatures of various types of foods and other safe food handling practices.
  • CHILL– Refrigerate promptly
  1. Refrigerate or freeze perishables as soon as you get home from the store.
  2. Never defrost food at room temperature.
  3. Always marinate food in the refrigerator.
  4. Use or discard refrigerated food on a regular basis. USDA cold storage recommendations are available at www.fightbac.org

 

For more information about food safety or any of the components of the EFNEP program, call Helen Sangrey, Nutrition Education Advisor at the Penn State Cooperative Extension office in Mifflin County, at 717-248-9618.