By Diane Wright Hirsch
The late fall, early winter holidays can be a busy time for home cooks. Whether you are preparing a traditional holiday turkey, a favorite side dish of greens from your garden, or attempting something new like a goose or Connecticut oysters, the food safety implications of your food creations can be daunting. So, seek out some help with the questions you might have.
- How long do I cook a 25 pound turkey?
- Where can I find information about egg safety?
- Is that corn I froze over a year ago still safe?
- How do I handle the leftovers from a restaurant meal?
- What kind of food thermometer should I have?
On the home page you will find several key features. On the right there is a “widget” that brings us updated recalls and tips from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS). On the bottom is a link to a current newsworthy topic. Right now we have featured information on cooking turkey—it will help those preparing for December holiday dinners. This article will be changed regularly (we hope!). At the top of the page you will find links to the UConn home page, as well as other College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources pages, including Extension.
On left is the main menu for the page. It will direct you to topic pages for consumers and home cooks, farmers and growers, processors and specialty foods manufacturers, and food service and retail sectors. Each of these will send you to a set of pages with information particular to that group. Farmers, growers, and processors will find resources that can inform them about regulations they must adhere to; how to develop food safety plans and procedures for their operations; and where to send water samples or food products for microbiological testing.
Consumers will be directed to “Food Safety in Connecticut for Consumers and Home Cooks.” This page is a treasure trove of food safety facts, hints and how-tos. Articles will help you prepare everything from eggs to zucchini safely, find information on home canning, how to pack a safe lunch, and grow safe food in your garden. Do you think you have a foodborne illness? How do you know? What should you do? On the right side of the consumer page there is a link to resources to help you know what to do if you suspect that you are suffering from food poisoning or infection.
If you don’t know a spore from a virus, the food safety dictionary will help you figure it out. Food safety is a topic full of references to scientific terms such as bacteria, toxins, pathogens, sanitizing, etc. Find a clear description here that will help you do decipher this confusing jargon.
A click back to the home page will help you to find additional resources.
Looking for a workshop? Any food safety programs, short courses or workshops will be listed here.
If you have always wondered about the regulators who inspect or make laws about our food and how to contact them with questions or concerns, you will find all the contact info you need when you click on, “Who regulates our food.” Local, state, and federal agencies are all listed here.
If you cannot find what you are looking for, you have two options. Go to the list of Helpful Websites on the bottom left of the home page. Or, on the Consumers and Home Cooks page, there is an opportunity to email questions you may have. Of course a phone call works as well! You will find a list of food safety contacts at the University of Connecticut College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources on the home page as well. Contact information is listed there, along with the topics that folks are most able to address.