COMMENTS FROM CHERYL
Sign-up or get additional information by contacting Cher yl Walker at the Milam County Extension Office, 100 E. 1st St. in Cameron, 254-697-7045. Information is also available on the County website and look under events, http://milam-tx.tamu. edu/.
FOOD SAFETY–During the holidays, sometimes we think about making the holiday shopping a little easier by ordering and sending friends and family gift boxes of cheese, meats or delicious desserts. These items, whether store bought or homemade, need to be handled properly. Planning is the key to having the food items arrive safely for the persons to enjoy.
• Meat, poultry, fish and other perishable foods need to be handled carefully and in a timely manner in order to prevent the growth of harmful bacterial which could cause foodborne illness. All foods should be handled safely, including food gifts.
• Perishable food gifts must arrive cold to be safe to eat. If you receive a gift that is not cold at the time of delivery, do not eat it! Instead, notify the sender. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Food gifts marked “perishable” or “keep refrigerated” need to be opened immediately and placed in the refrigerator or freezer.
• If you are ordering food gifts, specify overnight delivery and request a frozen gel pack or dry ice in the packaging. Transit time and product packaging–foam or heavy cardboard designed to keep them cold–are also vital.
• Foods prepared at home may also be shipped to friends and family, but care is required. First, be sure to follow proper food safety procedures such as hand washing and prevention of cross contamination when preparing foods. Visit www.fightbac.org for more information about basic food safety.
• Once you are ready to ship the foods, make sure items are frozen solid or refrigerator cold prior to shipping. Pack in an insulated cooler or heavy cardboard box with a frozen gel pack. Dry ice can also be used, but don’t let it touch your hands or the food. Let the recipient know the box contains dry ice. Wrap the box in two layers of brown paper and mark it “perishable” or “keep refrigerated”.
• Ship perishable food gifts by overnight mail and try not to send packages at the end of the week because delivery could be delayed over the weekend. Let the recipient know a food-bearing package is on its way so someone can be home to accept delivery and get the food under refrigeration immediately.
• It’s best to send food gifts to someone’s home, but confirm that someone will be home and send your surprise to their house.
For more information about mail order food safety contact the extension office, or visit www.fsis.usda. gov/Fact_Sheets/Mail_Order_Food_ Safety/index.asp.