Don’t grill it: healthy eating tips for fall harvest in US

Heads up, the Boston Duck Boats may be enjoying a renaissance on US rivers but those who might be planning to attend a fall harvest or backyard barbecue with some barbecues have been warned to take common sense precautions when cooking outdoors this autumn.

According to a joint report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration, an estimated 1,500 Americans die from foodborne illness every year and another 2.5 million are sickened, mostly from contaminated hot dogs and deli meats.

Freezing food increases our risk of foodborne illness Read more

While antibiotic-resistant salmonella from farms contaminating chicken and turkey is often blamed for the outbreak, one reason the number of foodborne illness deaths has dropped is because of changes in the traditional, carry-in and carry-out cookout food, said Anne Haddad, a physician and senior advisor for food safety at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a medical and public policy organization.

“Foods coming from our own kitchens and our own farms need to be prepared – typically that means we need to cook or bake them to precook points,” she said. “This means you need to add the necessary water, salt and flavorings to ensure that the food is safe to eat.”

Health experts say consuming common, stuffy-funk season fruits and vegetables will cause you to develop a certain swelling that may signal you are at risk of foodborne illness. Some of the most common late-season vegetables include carrots, celery, potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, kale, and Brussels sprouts. With each of these, look for green, firm spots that don’t ripen when frozen.

While consumption of these foods may lead to gastrointestinal symptoms, like vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps, they also appear to have less of an effect on a person’s overall health, said Haddad.

“We know that if your microbiome [bacteria] is intact, your immune system has a better chance of defending itself and you won’t get sick from eating these types of foods,” she said.

Other popular fall comfort foods include pumpkin, apple, pecan and walnut casseroles, but there is still a need for caution, said Haddad.

“These foods can leave behind a higher or stronger pH levels, which can leave a pathogen in the meal and still be able to survive without being killed by boiling water,” she said.

The CDC recommends for preparing fresh foods, storing them on a “high” or “medium” shelf in your kitchen. They also suggest removing serving glasses from a bowl and placing it on a shelf, rather than serving them out onto the table. Also, avoid using table linens or rugs to wipe your hands, as these could cross your food, said Haddad.

Cheese, wine and bread are popular holiday holiday foods in the US, but experts warn against frying or toasting it.

“Frying can emit heat that has low-temperature damage in the dairy butter or cheese, which can make your cheese, yogurt, sour cream, or cottage cheese unappetizing,” said Haddad.

Instead, move the food along to a secondary, cooler location in the kitchen to preserve it.

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