September is Food Safety Education Month

September is Food Safety Education Month

Keeping your family’s food safe is critical for our health – that’s why September is designated as Food Safety Education Month.

Foodborne illness can occur when we eat contaminated food. In order to keep our food safe, we must follow safe food handling methods when storing and cooking foods.

Following proper food handling principles helps keep our foods safe from the contaminants that can cause foodborne illness. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends these 4 steps to protect your family from foodborne illness: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.

woman washing handsClean: Wash Hands, Utensils, and Surfaces Frequently

  • Wash your hands and kitchen surfaces before you prepare any food. Always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, using soap and warm water.
  • Remember: Germs can survive on surfaces in your kitchen, including on your hands, counters, utensils, and on cutting boards.

Separate: Avoid Cross-contamination

  • Cross contamination is common in the kitchen. Cross contamination is caused by transferring dangerous bacteria from raw foods to other foods and surfaces.  
  • Remember: Separate any raw meat, along with poultry, seafood, and eggs and use separate, individual cutting boards. Make sure to wash cutting boards with hot soapy water in between uses.

Cook: Make Sure to Cook All Foods to the Right Temperature

  • Cook food to the proper internal temperature to eliminate germs and bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Use a calibrated food thermometer to get an accurate temperature reading.
  • Bacteria can rapidly multiply when food is held at room temperature.
  • Remember: The Temperature Danger Zone is between 40°F and 140°F. This is the temperature range that best supports the growth of microorganisms like bacteria.

Chill: Properly Refrigerate and Freeze Foods

  • Keep your refrigerator at 39°F or below and your freezer at or below 0˚F.
  • Perishable foods, especially frozen meat, should never be thawed on the countertop or in hot water. Leaving meat out on the counter or in the sink while it defrosts allows the meat to reach temperatures higher than 40 degrees, the Danger Zone.
  • Remember: It is important to refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours, or within 1 hour if food has been held at 90˚F or higher.

Anyone can get foodborne illness; however, older adults, children younger than 5, pregnant women, and those with a weakened immune system may be more likely to get sick from a foodborne illness.

To learn more about food safety, visit the Centers for Disease Control’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/keep-food-safe.html.

The UF/IFAS Electronic Data Information Set or EDIS is a great place to find more information about food safety: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/entity/topic/food_safety.

Meet Your FCS Agent: Laurie Osgood

Meet Your FCS Agent: Laurie Osgood

Laurie Osgood, UF/IFAS Extension Gadsden County

Hello, I am Laurie Osgood, the UF/IFAS Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Extension Agent in Gadsden County. I have worked in Extension for over 8 years, with seven of those years in the Gadsden County office. My FCS program areas include health and wellness and financial capability.

I hold a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and have recently completed my master’s degree in Family, Youth and Community Sciences from the University of Florida.

As an Extension Agent, I enjoy working with families and youth across the state of Florida and in Gadsden County.  It is very rewarding to be able to offer health and wellness programs that benefit families in my community. Working as an Extension Agent has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my career.

I have been married to my husband, Gary, for over 25 years and we have three children, which includes a set of twins. All three of my children are currently seeking their college degrees. We have two rescue dogs that are as much work as children.

My hobbies include working in my garden, traveling, and visiting Florida breweries.

Laurie Osgood on a trip to Paris.

April is Fair Housing Month

April is Fair Housing Month

National Fair Housing Month supports affordable housing by helping make affordable housing a reality for many working families, representing many backgrounds, races, and colors. The Fair Housing Act was enacted into law in 1968 to protect Americans from discrimination when selling or buying houses, including rental properties and mortgage financing, based on color, race, and even gender. According to the Fair Housing Amendments Act, it is illegal to discriminate against any person because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.

The Fair Housing Act protects consumers from following unlawful, discriminatory housing practices in:

The Fair Housing Act protects buyers and renters from discriminatory housing practices. Photo Credit: Pam Tribue, UF/IFAS Extension Gadsden County.

  • the rental or sale of housing properties, including residential lots
  • the establishment of real estate brokerage services
  • the marketing or advertisement of properties for sale or rent
  • the appraisal process of housing properties
  • the housing finance process

Marcia L. Fudge, Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), states that “Fair Housing Month is a time to recommit to our nation’s obligation to ensure that everyone has equal access to safe, affordable housing. Unfortunately, housing discrimination still exists, from individuals and families being denied a place to call home because of the color of their skin or where they come from, to landlords refusing to allow persons with disabilities to keep assistance animals, to individuals being denied a place to live because of who they love.”

Are you a victim of unlawful housing discrimination?

Anyone who believes they have suffered unfair housing practices or discrimination can file a complaint with HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777.  You can also report housing discrimination online by using the following link: https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/online-complaint#_How_to_File

To learn more about Fair Housing, contact UF/IFAS Extension Gadsden County at (850) 875-7255.

Source:

HUD Commemorates National Fair Housing Month 2022 | HUD.gov / U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

April is National Financial Literacy Month

April is National Financial Literacy Month

paper bills and changeApril is designated as National Financial Literacy Month to increase awareness about financial literacy, especially with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) causing economic worry for families across the United States. When it comes to financial literacy, knowledge is power!

Consumer debt has become a major challenge for families. If you owe money to multiple creditors, managing this debt can be overwhelming. Many Americans have more debt than they can afford to pay. Developing strategies for overcoming this challenge is essential. These strategies should include building financial knowledge, developing a budget, and setting savings goals to improve your financial outlook.

Financial literacy means understanding how to save, borrow, invest, and care for your money, leading to greater financial well-being. Research has shown that our physical health and well-being are directly linked to our financial health and well-being.

Florida Saves is a statewide initiative that helps inspire Florida families to set savings goals, lower debt, and build personal wealth. The Florida Saves pledge, located on the Florida Saves website, can help us establish personal financial goals. With this pledge, you’re making a commitment to work toward a savings goal, such as college tuition, an emergency fund, or down payment on your first home. Visit the Florida Saves Initiative website to learn more about financial literacy.

Whatever your savings goals are, becoming financially literate can help you achieve those goals. For more information about financial literacy and management, please contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Agent.

Extension classes are open to everyone regardless of race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions, or affiliations.

 

Beware of Scams!

Beware of Scams!

Lately, scammers have gotten more sophisticated. So it’s worth reminding everyone that if you receive an unsolicited email, text, or phone call, DO NOT give out any of your personal information! Scammers often update their tactics, using any way they can to trick you into handing over your precious personal information.

Earlier this week, I received an email (see below) telling me I had successfully set up a mobile wallet using my bank account. Since I had not signed up for this service, I was tempted to call the phone number listed in the email to dispute it. I hesitated, and for good reason. If I had contacted them, they would have tried to get my personal identification information, and then used that information to steal my identity or bank funds. I called my bank directly and learned this scam was recently perpetrated against 40,000 debit card users.

Phishing emails and text messages often appear to be legitimate and from a company you know or trust (like my own bank). These phishing emails and text messages often describe a problem with your billing, to trick you into clicking on a link or an attachment.

REMEMBER, if you receive this kind of message, by email or text, do not click on any attachments or call the phone number that is listed.

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Information page offers these tips for consumers to recognize and avoid phishing scams. View their website for more information. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/privacy-identity-online-security.

  1. Protect your computer by using security software.
  2. Protect your mobile phone by setting software to update automatically
  3. Protect your accounts by using multi-factor authentication
  4. Protect your data by backing it up

Lesson learned? Protect yourself and don’t believe anything that doesn’t feel right!

 

 

For more information about protecting yourself and your finances, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Agent.

Extension classes are open to everyone regardless of race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations.