Nutrition and Health News

Food Safety

For more information on keeping food safe, please feel free to contact Janet Hackert at 660-425-6434 or If you have questions about food safety related to meat or poultry, you can also call the Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-MPHotline or 1-888-674-6854 any time of the day or night to listen to recorded messages about the most common food safety questions. You can also go to the MU Extension website. Your local extension office can also assist you on this or any other topic.

Seasonal and Simple

Seasonal and Simple is a guide to help you find, select, store and prepare fresh fruits and vegetables in Missouri.

2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

By Janet Hackert, Regional Nutrition and Health Education Specialist

Every five years the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services review the research and revise the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The 2015 – 2020 guidelines have a slightly different focus than in the past, looking more at the big picture of eating patterns rather than individual nutrients, and the importance of eating well wherever we are. The specific guidelines, in summary, are:

1.  Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Sample healthy eating patterns, such as a healthy Mediterranean-style eating pattern, can be found in the appendices of the Dietary Guidelines which can be found at There are also charts showing estimated calorie needs per day by age, sex, and physical activity level.

2.  Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts. A list of foods that are rich in certain nutrients, such as Calcium, vitamin D and fiber, can be found in the appendices of the guidelines.

3.  Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.

4.  Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.

5.  Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.

The recommendations, similar to past ones, now look at overall eating patterns rather than focusing on single nutrients and there has been a shift to consider the broader community in supporting healthy eating environments.

For more information on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, go to Or for information on any other topic, contact me, Janet Hackert, at 660-425-6434 or or your local University of Missouri Extension office. University of Missouri Extension - your one-stop source for practical education on almost anything.

Food Safety is Important - That's a Fact

By Janet Hackert, Regional Nutrition and Health Education Specialist

September is National Food Safety Month and here are a few myths and facts from Fight Bac!, the Partnership for Food Safety Education, about keeping food safe at home.

Myth: Cross-contamination does not happen in the refrigerator because it is too cold for germs to survive. Fact: Some microorganisms can survive, even in that moist environment at refrigerator temperatures. For example, listeria monocytogenes, that can be found in soft cheese, unpasteurized milk, hot dogs, deli meats, and other foods, can live and continue to grow even when it is as cold as 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That is 4.4 degrees colder than the warmest a refrigerator should be. Keep the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder and the freezer at 0 degrees or colder.

Myth: Leftovers are safe to eat until they smell bad. Fact: Smell is not an indication of whether a food is safe to eat or not since most contamination that can cause food poisoning does not affect the smell, taste or look of the food. Know how long to safely keep foods at these temperatures. For example, leftovers should only be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Make a plan to eat them within that timeframe, or if that is not possible or likely, freeze what would still be around beyond four days. Otherwise, toss them before they make anyone sick.

Myth: If I microwave a food, the microwaves kill the bacteria, so the food is safe. Fact: The microwaves themselves do not kill the bacteria or viruses that can cause illness; the heat generated in the food by the microwaves is what is effective. Follow package instructions carefully, including turning and wait periods. Or use a food thermometer to check that the internal temperature is what it needs to be in order to be safe.

Keeping food safe is important – that is a fact. Http:// has other food safety myths and facts along with information on what food-borne illness symptoms are and how to prevent them, on understanding food recalls and on other food safety topics. University of Missouri Extension has a series of guides on storing food safely in the cupboard, refrigerator and freezer, publications MP556, MP557 and MP558. These are available online and from your local MU Extension office.

Additional Resources:

Top Ten Home Food Safety Myths and Facts

Storing Food in the Refrigerator MP558

Storing Food in the Freezer MP556

Storing Food in the Cupboard MP557

Home Storage of Fruits and Vegetables in Root Cellars MP562

For more information on keeping food safe or any other topic, contact me, Janet Hackert, at 660-425-6434 or or your local University of Missouri Extension office. University of Missouri Extension - your one-stop source for practical education on almost anything.?

Be Prepared for the Next Big Storm

By Janet Hackert, Regional Nutrition and Health Education Specialist

It seems like there have quite a few serious storms roll through our area lately, and when the most recent sirens sounded and we headed for the basement, it was good to know we were ready. Be prepared for the next big storm BEFORE it happens in your area. That means having a safe place, with a supply of food, water and other items ready to use when and where you may need them.

As for the place, the Community Emergency Management Team with University of Missouri Extension recommends moving to a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement. If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor. Stay away from windows.

When you head for your shelter, you may be there for a while. Have enough food for everyone in the house for several days, even up to a week’s supply. The storm may only last for hours, but if power goes off, you will still need to eat. Choose ready-to-eat foods that store well in your shelter. Some suggested foods include canned meats, vegetables and fruits (with pop-tops or a manual can opener), peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola, nuts, dried fruit; cereal, fruit cups, juice boxes, and snack bars. If storing instant meals that require adding water, be sure to include enough water in the emergency kit to reconstitute them. Avoid very salty foods since these increase thirst. Mark food and replace and rotate into regular daily use every 6 months, or more often if “best if used by” dates indicate it. Include paper or plastic plates and cups, napkins and plasticware for in your shelter kit.

Store water for emergencies in clean, well-sealed plastic containers. Keep bottled water sealed in its original plastic containers. Or use plastic pop bottles that have been carefully washed out. Don’t use milk containers for storing water, because they are difficult to get clean and because they often do not have secure tops. Store one gallon of water per person per day for cooking and sanitation.

On the MU Extension website (at click on the Emergency Management tab at the top right), there are resources for learning more about preparing for storms, tornadoes and other emergencies. For example, MU Extension publication, EMW1011, Family Disaster Plan, is a fillable .pdf file that can be customized for your family’s particular needs. There is also a full list for a Disaster Supplies Kit, EMW1012, and EMW1001, Disaster Recovery Resources for Missouri Families, as well as other related topics such as storm shelters, protecting valuable papers, and selecting and safely using generators.

For more information on emergency preparedness, or any other topic, contact your local University of Missouri Extension office. University of Missouri Extension is your one-stop source for practical education on almost anything.