Family & Consumer Sciences
The UGA Extension Gwinnett County has a long tradition of helping individuals and families over their life span and strengthening communities through educational programs. Our goal is to improve the quality of life for individuals and families. We want to help Georgians meet new challenges in a changing environment. We focus on our clients' economic and social well-being through programs that help people extend their income, improve their health, and strengthen their personal and family relationships. Whether you are raising a family, making a living, trying to cook and eat nutritiously, or making important buying decisions, UGA Extension Gwinnett County has resources available.
Resource and educational materials are available for check out, free of charge, for use by schools and community groups. For information on availability and use of materials, contact us at 678.377.4010. The following types of materials are available: *Educational Materials: Brochure Series and packets related to food safety and sanitation, food preservation, money management, living with diabetes, and parenting information for infants, toddlers and adolescents. *Educational Videos: Ready-to-go programs on food preservation, food safety, parenting, nutrition, how to pay for college, and communication skills. *Exhibits: "Less Sugar" and "Rank the Fat" exhibits for use with health fairs, school programs, and community events.
Turkey Help Lines and Websites
Preferred choice, especially for cooking temperatures and consumer food safety information:
Call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at:
Hearing impaired (TTY) is 1-800-256-7072
A food safety specialist is available to speak to you — in English or Spanish — from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern time on weekdays year round. There is also an extensive menu of recorded food safety messages that may be heard 24 hours a day.
Or send Email to: MPHotline.firstname.lastname@example.org
Homemade Gifts this time of Year are Wonderful but...
You look at the pretty relish, salsa or preserve in the glass jar your friend or co-worker gave you. Then the wondering begins; is the canned food gift safe to eat? While it is not possible to guarantee safety with homemade food items, there are some pointers to keep in mind as you look at that gift and decide how – or even if – to enjoy it.
The following tips from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension will help you with some first-line decision making.
- Because of their acidity, lower risk foods include fruit jams and jellies and whole fruits like peaches, cherries, plums, and cranberries, or cranberry sauce. The high sugar content of traditional fruit jams, jellies and preserves add an extra measure of safety and barriers to even spoilage.
- Low-acid vegetables and vegetable mixes are higher risk foods because, if improperly processed, they could cause botulism. Botulism is a potentially deadly food poisoning. Improperly canned vegetables have caused botulism in just the past few years, as well as historically. If someone gives you a jar of their home canned vegetables, or soup mixes, it is extremely important to know they followed properly tested canning processes and procedures for preparing the food as well as operating the pressure canner.
- Mixtures of acid and low-acid ingredients like in tomato-vegetable salsas, other vegetables salsas, and some pickled foods, are also a potential risk for botulism. If the home canner processed them in boiling water, as if they are an acid food, then the ratio or proportion of acid to low-acid ingredients is very important. In addition, the style and thickness of the mixture, size of food pieces, and preparation steps can influence what the process time should be. It is best to use properly tested recipes. Do not estimate or make up a canning process for your own recipe.
- There are no properly tested home canning processes to recommend for canning pestos, thickened stews or soups, creamed soups, and pumpkin or other vegetable butters.
- Now you know the rules, but you still need to know that the gift giver carried out the recommended procedures correctly. A recipe does not tell you that all steps were followed in carrying out the processing and this can have a great effect on safety, not just the ingredients and food preparation methods.
Turkey Talk-Line® 1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-8372)
Additional features for information are mobile tools, text messages, social network site, email newsletter, and podcasts.
And if for any reason you need even more information on turkeys:
National Turkey Federation
Revised October 2017 by Carolyn Ainslie
UGA Extension, The University of Georgia, Athens.
Released by Elizabeth L. Andress
It is best to make sure the person who canned the foods at home used recipes, and procedures, from trusted sources to know the science behind the canning. Tested or scientifically evaluated processes can be found in the University of Georgia's So Easy to Preserve book (the current version is the 6th edition), the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning (2015 is the latest version), or on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.
It may not be easy to ask these questions of your gift-giver. But important things to think about include, where the recipe and canning instructions came from, when it was canned, and how it was made. If the food looks suspicious, it would be better to toss it out than risk getting sick.
Pieces of food should be covered with liquid with no discoloration or drying out at the top of the jar. In addition, there should not be unnatural discoloration in the food throughout the jar. Throw out anything with mold growing on it. Before opening the jar, look for signs of spoilage such as cloudy and/or bubbling liquid.
Make sure the jar has a vacuum seal when you receive the jar, and again when you open the jar. When you open the jar, make sure the vacuum seal is intact and no liquid is spurting indicating pressure inside the jar forcing it out. Also, notice if there are unusual odors coming from the food in the jar.
Botulism toxin can still be in sealed jars of low-acid foods without any visible signs or off-odors. It is critical to know how these foods were processed and to trust the giver.
These tips from UGA Extension are not meant to take the fun out of the holidays or the creative side away from gift-giving, but to keep people safe. More about observing home-canned foods for spoilage and storing them can be found at http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/store/store_home_canned.
(Elizabeth L. Andress is a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension food safety specialist with the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.)
Deadly Gases in Your Home: Carbon Monoxide and Radon
Dangerous gases may be lurking inside your home. Most people are familiar with carbon monoxide (CO). This deadly gas is colorless, tasteless, and odorless. Each year, unintentional CO poisoning results in over 400 deaths in the U.S. There are several sources of CO in your home. These include fuel-burning appliances like water heaters, heating systems, space heaters, generators, and fumes from vehicles idling in an attached garage. The most common warning signs of CO poisoning are headache, fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath and confusion. If someone is displaying these symptoms, get them outside the house immediately then call 911. There are several simple things you can do to prevent CO poisoning. One of the most important things is to install a battery operated CO detector or one with battery backup near sleeping areas. You should also have your heating system inspected annually by trained service technicians.
Another deadly gas that may be in your home is radon. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, and second leading cause behind smoking. Each year approximately 21,000 deaths in the U.S. occur because of radon. Like CO, radon is invisible, tasteless, and odorless. Unlike CO, the effects of exposure to radon take longer to see. Over time some people can develop lung cancer as a result of exposure to radon; whereas the effects of exposure to CO occur much sooner. Because of this, radon is often overlooked.
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that comes from the decay of uranium found in most rocks and soil. It enters your home through cracks in the foundation, exposed soil in basements and crawlspaces, and well water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 1 in 15 homes in the United States has a high radon level (over 4.0 picocuries per liter). Breathing high levels of radon over time can cause lung cancer.
If you have a CO detector it will not tell you if there is a high level of radon in your home. It only detects the presence of carbon monoxide. The only way to know if your home has a high level of radon is to test it. This is an easy DIY project. Radon test kits are available from several sources including local retailers, some county extension offices, and by ordering online from UGA Extension (www.UGAradon.com). Kits purchased online cost $13, and this includes the kit, shipping, lab analysis, and results. If the radon level in your home is high, you can have a radon reduction system installed. If you think there may be radon in your well water, you may want to have the water tested.
January is National Radon Action Month, so take action and test your home. Delaying testing can cause you and your loved ones to continue to breathe dangerous levels of radon. Reduce the dangerous gases in your home. For more information go to www.ugaradon.org.