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Why have chicken breasts increased in size so much in the past years? Is it due to hormone use?

Poultry genetics and production practices have improved dramatically in the past years, which have caused poultry breast size to increase. Breeders select their stock based on growth rate and breast size. Also, poultry nutrition and raising practices have improved, so that the poultry can grow faster and larger.

What type of cutting board is best?

Consumers can choose a cutting board made of either wood or a nonporous surface such as plastic, marble or glass. However, these nonporous surfaces are easier to clean than wood. Bamboo boards are more resistant to bacteria than other woods.

The most important thing with cutting boards is to keep them clean and discard them if they develop hard-to-clean grooves. Also, be sure to use separate cutting boards or clean well in between when preparing raw meats and ready-to-eat foods. Clean cutting boards with hot soapy water after use, then rinse with clear water.

Is it safe to cook an entire chicken or large piece of meat in a slow cooker?

USDA recently revised their recommendations and they now say that it is safe to cook an entire chicken or whole pieces of meat in a slow cooker. However, they do specify that you should check the slow cooker instruction booklet to find out the maximum size of meat that would be safe in your particular slow cooker. One of the most important food safety considerations for cooking meat in a slow cooker is to be sure that the meat is thawed before cooking. More information is available in USDA's slow cooker fact sheet (updated in 2012).

Is it safe to cook in unlined copper pots? How about using copper cookie cutters for cookies?

Copper cookie cutters should be safe and not toxic, particularly if the dough is not too acidic (which is not common in cookie dough). Recent research is looking at the antimicrobial properties of copper as a food contact surface.

However, cooking in unlined copper pots, particularly if the food is acidic, can cause copper toxicity. Unlined copper can be relatively easily dissolved by acidic foods, which may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea with sufficient quantities. Copper pots lined with tin or stainless steel are safe.

What is the best way to freeze oranges?

I just bought a big box of fresh oranges and they are very moist and sweet so I would like to freeze some of them. I do not want to add more sugar and do not want to add ascorbic acid. Can I just wash, peel, slice and put in freezer bags for use later?

You can freeze oranges. They are best frozen with added sugar. Directions can be found at the National Center for Home Preservation website.

It is important to note that unsweetened packs may result in a product that does not have the same texture or color as those frozen with sugar. In your case, you specifically mention the moist texture. There's nothing wrong with experimenting, but be aware your oranges may not have the same texture or taste when frozen (with or without sugar).

Can I get swine flu (H1N1 virus) from eating pork?

No. The virus that causes swine flu is not spread by food. You can't get swine flu by eating pork or pork products. However, you should always be sure to handle pork products safely. Cook pork to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill viruses and bacteria.

Can you freeze food that has been prepared after the original frozen food has been thawed, prepared, cooked and cooled?

Yes, you can freeze food that has been prepared from frozen food. The United States Department of Agriculture's website explains that foods can be thawed in the refrigerator or cooked and then placed back in the freezer. As the site mentions, the quality of the food may not be as good, but it is safe. A good example of this would be making lasagna from scratch, using frozen ground beef or cheese, cooking it and then freezing leftovers. Do note that foods that have not been properly thawed are not safe to refreeze.

What should I consider when sending perishable items as gifts?

Everyone loves getting packages in the mail. Whether you are giving or receiving mail order foods, there are some safety tips you need to keep in mind.

Check with the mail order company. If it is a perishable item like meat or poultry, how will the gift be packaged? When will the perishable item be delivered and will the package be labeled "Keep Refrigerated" to alert the recipient?

Some mail order items are of an unusual nature and some consumers may not know how to handle or prepare them. Will the item come with instructions on storage and preparation?

Will it be better to send the item to the workplace or the home address? Tell the recipient if the company has promised a delivery date.

If you receive a food item marked "keep refrigerated," open it immediately and check its temperature. Optimally, the food should arrive frozen or partially frozen. Refrigerate or freeze perishable items immediately.

What is the correct temperature for a refrigerator?

Keep refrigerators between 34 and 40 degrees F. Above 40 degrees, foods spoil rapidly. Check the temperature with a thermometer.

Should fresh eggs be kept in the carton in the refrigerator?

Store fresh eggs in the carton, large end up. Don't remove eggs from the carton and store in the refrigerator door. This causes loss of quality and the eggs may absorb odors.

Community on 11/09/2017

Print Headline: Food Safety Quick Answers

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