January 13th, 2011 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Go to the supermarket and start pulling products off the shelves and you’ll see everything has nutrition labels, even water! And now, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says starting in 2010, nutrition labels will be mandatory on many popular cuts of meat and poultry too.
Read More:Meat & Poultry to Get Nutrition Labels by 2012
September 15th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Cook enough chicken, and you’ll become an expert in safe handling of raw poultry and proper cooking times and temperatures.
But how much do you know about chicken colors—from bones, to skin, to cooked meat?
In today’s post, we unravel three common mysteries.
Read More:3 Chicken Mysteries Solved
June 5th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
June is National Dairy Month, a time to remind ourselves that the official Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend:
- 3 servings of dairy per day (adults and children 9 years and older)
- 2 servings of dairy per day (children ages 2 to 8 years)
A serving is defined as:
- 1 cup milk or yogurt
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup cottage or ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup shredded cheese
- 1.5 ounces hard cheese
- 1 cup pudding, frozen yogurt or ice cream (made from milk)
Our weekend recipe combines the classic flavors of sweet potato, chicken and pineapple, accented with reduced-fat Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses.
“This is a very easy month for me to celebrate,” says registered dietitian Regan Jones, who works with 91-year-old Cabot Creamery Cooperative in Montpelier, VT. “Cheese, yogurt and milk are three of my favorite foods and are great additions to almost any recipe. Even better, all three come in lighter varieties.
“Dairy products provide nine essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, protein, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and potassium,” Jones adds.
All of the ingredients in today’s recipe should be available at a well-stocked natural and organic food store. Enjoy!
Sweet Potato, Pineapple and Cheddar Salad
Makes 6 servings
6 small red or yellow onions
2 medium sweet potatoes (12 ounces)
4 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
12 cups mixed greens (16 ounces)
Nonfat raspberry salad dressing
1 cup cubed fresh pineapple
6 ounces cooked chicken breast, sliced
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
Fresh mint leaves for garnish
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Peel onions. Cut them lengthwise into 4 to 6 sections, leaving root intact.
- Cut sweet potatoes into 1” x 3” fingers.
- Spread onions, sweet potatoes and garlic on a baking sheet with sides. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with red pepper, tossing to combine. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 30 minutes, or until tender.
- Uncover and continue roasting until vegetables are well caramelized on the outside, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes longer.
- Toss greens with dressing, to taste. Divide among 6 plates, and top with roasted vegetables, pineapple and chicken.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Grate cheddar into ribbons on top of each salad, and garnish with mint.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Cabot Creamery Cooperative
Read More:Sweet Potato, Pineapple and Cheddar Salad
February 19th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Handle raw chicken properly, and you’ll reduce your risk of contracting a foodborne illness. Equally important is cook time.
You must cook chicken to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F, which should be measured with a meat thermometer. Test internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing, as well as the thickest part of the breast.
The color of cooked chicken is no reflection of safety. The pink color in safely cooked chicken may be a result of hemoglobin in tissues. Smoking or grilling may also cause this reaction, which occurs mostly in young birds. Only a food thermometer can accurately detect whether the minimum internal temperature has been reached.
Many of the new-generation meat thermometers are digital, including the CDN Proaccurate Stainless Digital Thermometer ($19.99) and Taylor Digital Cooking Thermometer ($15.99), which has a built-in programmable timer.
Our Chronological Coverage
- Most Chicken Producers’ Safeguards “Inadequate”
- Agriculture Department Slow on Campylobacter Test
- Handle Chicken Safely
Read More:Cook Chicken Safely
February 18th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
As our recent coverage shows, the raw chicken you buy has a high risk of bacterial contamination.
The most common culprits are:
- Salmonella enteritidis, which may live in livestock’s intestinal tracts
- Campylobacter jejuni, one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in humans
- Staphylococcus aureus, found in improperly handled, prepared and/or refrigerated foods (i.e., chicken salad)
- Listeria monocytogenes, which is destroyed in the cooking process; however, poor hygiene may lead to contamination
Food handlers are responsible for most foodborne illnesses. Sanitary handling, as well as proper cooking and refrigeration, should prevent illnesses.
Observe these guidelines:
- When you’re shopping for chicken, make sure it feels cold to the touch.
- Always check the sell-by and use-by dates. (FYI: Dating is not a federal requirement, but most stores do it.)
- Place poultry packages in disposable plastic bags to contain any leakage.
- When you arrive home, immediately place chicken in a refrigerator that maintains a 40°F temperature. Cook chicken within 1 to 2 days, or freeze at 0°F. Keep chicken in its package until using.
- If you’re buying a cooked chicken, make sure it’s hot. If you’re not going to eat it within 2 hours, refrigerate it. Cooked chicken should be consumed within 3 to 4 days.
- Bacteria must be consumed to cause illness, but handle raw chicken carefully to avoid cross-contamination. This occurs when raw poultry or its juices come in contact with other raw or cooked foods. If, for example, you’re cutting raw chicken, you don’t want to chop veggies on the same cutting board.
- Always wash your hands before and after handling raw meat and poultry.
- Never defrost chicken on a countertop. Defrosting should occur in the refrigerator, in cold water or in a microwave oven. It’s best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. Boneless chicken breasts will usually defrost overnight. Bone-in parts and whole chickens may take 1 to 2 days or longer. Once the raw chicken defrosts, it can be kept in the refrigerator an additional 1 to 2 days before cooking.
- Chicken may be defrosted in cold water in its airtight packaging or in a leak-proof bag. Submerge the bird or cut-up parts in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes to be sure it stays cold. A whole (3- to 4-pound) chicken or package of parts should defrost in 2 to 3 hours. A 1-pound package of boneless breasts will defrost in an hour or less.
- Chicken defrosted in the microwave oven should be cooked immediately after thawing, as some areas may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving. Holding partially cooked food is not recommended because any bacteria present won’t be destroyed.
- Foods defrosted in the microwave or by the cold-water method should be cooked before refreezing.
- Don’t cook frozen chicken in a microwave oven or slow cooker. It can, however, be cooked from its frozen state in the oven or on the stove, but cook time may be about 50% longer.
- Chicken may marinate in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Discard any uncooked leftover marinade.
Our Chronological Coverage
- Most Chicken Producers’ Safeguard “Inadequate”
- Agriculture Department Slow on Campylobacter Test
Tune in tomorrow for Part 4 of this series: Cook Chicken Safely
Read More:Handle Chicken Safely
February 17th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
As noted yesterday in Most Chicken Producers’ Safeguards “Inadequate,” store-bought chicken is routinely contaminated with the pathogens salmonella and campylobacter.
“Our tests show that campylobacter is widespread in chicken, even in brands that control for salmonella,” says Urvashi Rangan, PhD, director of technical policy at Consumers Union (CU), the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. “While one name brand, Perdue, and most air-chilled [organic] chickens, were less contaminated than others, this is still a very dirty industry that needs better practices and tighter government oversight.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point requires companies to identify potential points of contamination and take measures to eliminate them. But while the USDA has a standard that requires chicken producers to test for salmonella, it first announced campylobacter performance standards on Dec. 31. They will not be implemented until July.
“USDA has been pondering new standards to cut the prevalence of bacteria in chicken for more than 5 years,” says Jean Halloran, CU’s director of food policy initiatives. “Consumers shouldn’t have to play roulette with poultry. The USDA must make chicken less risky to eat.”
Photo: Anna Bates/CDC
Tune in tomorrow for Part 3 of this article: Handle Chicken Safely
Read More:USDA Allows Contaminated Chicken in Stores
February 16th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Two-thirds of store-bought chickens tested by Consumer Reports harbored salmonella and/or campylobacter, the leading bacterial causes of foodborne disease.
The results, published in the January issue, involved 382 broilers purchased from more than 100 supermarkets, gourmet-food stores, natural-food stores and mass merchandisers across 22 states.
Consumer Reports has been measuring contamination in store-bought chickens since 1998. The most recent test shows a modest improvement since January 2007, when the magazine found these pathogens in 80% of broilers. But the numbers are still far too high, and the results suggest most companies’ safeguards are inadequate.
Among the findings:
- Campylobacter was in 62% of the chickens, salmonella was in 14%, and both bacteria were in 9%. Only 34% of the birds were clear of both pathogens. That’s double the percentage of clean birds Consumer Reports found in its 2007 report, but far less than the 51% in its 2003 report.
- Among the cleanest overall were organic “air-chilled” broilers (a process in which carcasses are refrigerated and may be misted, rather than dunked in cold chlorinated water). About 60% were free of the two pathogens.
- Store-brand organic chickens had no salmonella at all, but only 43% of these birds were also free of campylobacter.
- Perdue was found to be the cleanest of the brand-name chicken, with 56% free of both pathogens. This is the first time since Consumer Reports began testing chicken that one major brand has fared significantly better than others across the board.
- Tyson and Foster Farms chickens were found to be the most contaminated. Less than 20% were free of either pathogen.
- Among all brands and types of broilers tested, 68% of the salmonella and 60% of the campylobacter organisms analyzed showed resistance to one or more antibiotics. All of the antibiotics were effective against 32% of salmonella samples and 40% of campylobacter samples, as compared to just 16% and 33%, respectively, in 2007.
- Although Perdue chickens were cleaner than other big brands in the tests, and most “air-chilled” organic birds were especially clean, Consumer Reports’ tests are a snapshot in time, and no type has been consistently low enough in pathogens to recommend over all others. Buying cleaner chicken may improve your odds if you fail to prepare chicken carefully.
Each year, salmonella and campylobacter from chicken and other food sources infect at least 3.4 million Americans, send 25,500 to hospitals and kill about 500, according to CDC estimates. While both pathogens are known to cause intestinal distress, campylobacter can lead to meningitis, arthritis and Guillain-Barré syndrome (a severe neurological disorder).
Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of this article: Agriculture Department Slow on Campylobacter Test
Read More:Most Chicken Producers’ Safeguards “Inadequate”
February 5th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
There are two types of moms: those whose meat loaf became your ultimate comfort food and those who served scary bricks of incinerated beef.
As San Francisco Chronicle reporter Amanda Gold points out, meat loaf “has both staunch supporters and fervent detractors. But no matter whether it’s considered jail food or the stuff of happy childhood memories, it has made a definite resurgence in recent years, especially in local restaurants.”
These days, many of us substitute ground chicken or turkey for the traditional ground beef in an effort to reduce consumption of red meat. Baking single-serving mini meat loaves is another culinary trend—one that allows us to control portion size.
Today’s recipe comes from The New American Plate Cookbook, published by the American Institute for Cancer Research. Lean ground chicken is the base, with onion, carrots, mushrooms, parsley and marjoram adding substantial nutritional value, texture and subtle flavors. All of the ingredients should be available at your local natural and organic food store.
Round out your meal by filling the remaining two-thirds of your plate with almost any vegetable (try kid-pleasing Spicy Nutmeg Carrots) and a whole grain like Quinoa Pilaf.
Chicken Mini Meat Loaves
Makes 6 servings (two mini loaves per serving)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 pound ground chicken breast
1 tablespoon chopped marjoram or 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup dried whole-wheat breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
1 egg, lightly beaten
Vegetable cooking spray
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
Fresh parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- In medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, mushrooms and poultry seasoning. Cook for about 5 minutes. Turn off and set aside. Let cool until no longer hot to touch.
- In large bowl, use fork to combine ground chicken with onion mixture, marjoram, parsley and breadcrumbs. Add Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and egg. Mix well.
- Coat 12-pan muffin tin (3-inch cups) with cooking spray. Spoon mixture into muffin pans, filling each about half full. Spread thin layer of tomato paste on top of each loaf.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Use external meat thermometer to ensure internal temperature of mini loaves reaches 170°F. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh parsley.
Per serving: 200 calories, 8 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 15 g carbohydrate, 19 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 460 mg sodium
Recipe and photo courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research
Read More:Chicken Mini Meat Loaves
January 21st, 2010 - Laura Klein
Because of the rising demand for drug free meat and poultry, it looks like big food producers are turning to deceitful tactics to trick consumers into thinking their products are drug free.
Tyson Foods has been marketing their chickens as being raised without antibiotics. However Tyson uses a poultry feed additive known as ionophores, that the U.S. Department of Agriculture classifies as an antibiotic. Ionophores are given to poultry to control the parasitic disease coccidiosis. It is also used as a growth promoter for cattle.
Because ionophores have been shown not to be harmful to humans (and are supposedly not a threat to antibiotic resistance) , Tyson wanted to advertise its chicken as being “without harmful antibiotics.” In December 2007, the USDA approved the phrase for marketing purposes, but competitors Perdue Farms and Sanderson Farms filed lawsuits one month later. Consumers followed with a class-action suit.
A federal judge has signed off on a preliminary agreement that could net consumers $5 million in refunds and coupons from the nation’s largest poultry producer. Individuals who bought Tyson chicken products labeled as having been raised without antibiotics from mid-June 2007 through April 2009 would be entitled to refunds. This settlement also includes Tyson’s fresh, frozen or deli chicken along with Cornish hens or tenders during the same time period.
Concerns about antibiotic resistance has European regulators concerned enough that they have banned several in-feed antibiotics for their animals. Legislators in the United States are considering a similar action with The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, which would prohibit the use of many non-therapeutic antibiotics in animal feed.1
Feeding animals a daily dose of antibiotics also has an environmental impact. Colorado State University researchers showed that ionophore drugs are getting into public waterways.2 In the study, the ionophore monensin was found at sample sites near agricultural regions. Additionally, ionophore drugs were found in surrounding streams with higher concentrations in the sediment vs. the overlaying water. Researchers concluded this study raises questions about whether antibiotics can accumulate in sediment and impact stream health.
I can’t help but ask, do we really need to feed our animals a constant, steady supply of antibiotics in their food and water when they are not sick? We will have a severe problem on our hands if we continue this practice.
In case you missed it, ABC News ran a story about one farmer who fought for his life after becoming infected with an antibiotic resistant form of strep after being gored in the knee by a bore. After two months of unsuccessful antibiotic treatments, Kremer’s doctors were baffled. The answer was found in the bore. A drug resistant strain of strep ran through the boars veins after being fed a steady, daily supply of penicillin.
Antibiotics save lives when used properly. Do we really want to continue to risk human lives by feeding our livestock a steady supply of drugs when they aren’t needed? The conditions of animals that are raised in Big Ag (Big Agriculture) are atrocious and disgusting. Something has got to change.
You can make a difference buy buying more certified organic foods and continue to raise the demand for truly healthy foods. The American dollar is the most important voting tool we as consumers have.
Read More:Tyson Foods Lied To Consumers About Drugs Used To Raise Their Chickens
June 10th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Hot dogs get a bad reputation, and deservedly so. They’re high in saturated fat, sodium, nitrates, cancer-causing compounds and pig parts I have no desire to eat.
But summer isn’t the same without a juicy, grilled frankfurter on a toasted bun. Fortunately, there are healthier, lower-fat natural, organic and vegetarian cures for your hot-dog cravings.
The Great Organic Uncured Hot Dog from Applegate Farms is made from organic grass-fed beef, as are Niman Ranch’s Fearless Franks and Organic Prairie’s Uncured Hot Dogs. Organic Prairie also offers chicken dogs and turkey dogs.
If you’re a vegetarian, check out the Lightlife line of Smart Dogs, Tofu Pups, Veggie Dogs and Pretzel Dogs. Another meatless option is the Yves line of Hot Dogs, Good Dogs, Tofu Dogs and Jumbo Hot Dogs.
Be sure to top your dog with organic condiments. I’ll show you some of my favorites tomorrow.
Read More:Hot Dog Stand