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Nutrition News: Food Safety Update

Charlyn Fargo on

Whether you are a college student heading to begin a new adventure or the parents left to adjust to an empty nest, food safety can never be ignored.

For students, college life includes living in a dorm, preparing their own food and eating meals on-the-go. Whether packing a lunch to eat between class, road tripping with perishables or gearing up for a tailgate, you are sure to have to transport perishable foods at some point during your college years. Make sure your food isn't traveling with a case of food poisoning.

Students usually are lucky if they can grab a quick meal between classes, and food safety may not always be on the radar. Here are a few tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Association for preparing food-on-the-go:

--If you are bringing your lunch to eat between classes, use an insulated lunch box or bag to keep perishable food cold.

--If there is a refrigerator in your dorm room or apartment, ensure it maintains a temperature below 40 degrees fahrenheit by keeping a refrigerator thermometer inside. Clean up any spills immediately and minimize the amount of time the refrigerator door is open.

--When tailgating, pack food in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice.

Here are some other common food safety mistakes that college students and parents make:

--Never taste your food to check if it has spoiled. You can't taste, see or even smell all bacteria that causes food poisoning, and tasting just a tiny bit of contaminated food can cause serious illness. Throw away all expired food before harmful bacteria grows. Consider composting expired plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, bread and vegetarian leftovers.

-- Never let raw meat, poultry or seafood touch cooked meat or any ready-to-eat foods, as this can cause cross-contamination. Foodborne pathogens from raw meat can easily spread to ready-to-eat foods and cause food poisoning. Always use separate plates, cutting boards and utensils to keep raw meats, poultry and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods.

-- Never thaw food on the counter. Harmful foodborne pathogens multiply rapidly when foods are in the danger zone between 41 degrees and 135 degrees. Instead, always thaw foods in the refrigerator, cold water or in the microwave.

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