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Spring Celebrations: What’s on Your Menu?

matzoUSDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline gets extra busy this time of year with brisket, baked ham, and egg questions. Here are some Spring food safety tips based on questions our Hotline Food Safety Specialists have received from callers.

 

How long can I keep a ham in the refrigerator before cooking it? 

 

To answer your question, we need to know what type of ham you’re buying and how it’s packaged. What does the label advise? The label is the best guide for determining storage time. It gives the product name, whether it’s smoked or cured, and whether you must refrigerate it. While USDA doesn’t require manufacturers to list the freshness date on products, many do. Look for the instructions on the label that tell you how long you can keep the product. For example: “Best if used by April 15.”

Are Eggs Dyed for Easter Safe to Eat?

Dyed Easter EggsYes, if the answers to all the following questions are “Yes.”

 

Is the dye safe to ingest?  Check the package.  Most dyes in children’s kits are vegetable dyes and are safe.  However, some kits are meant to be used on blown-out eggs, and the decorative materials (such as sprinkles) aren’t intended for consumption. If you use food coloring, of course, that’s also edible. If the dye is edible, it’s okay to eat the eggs even if, when peeled, you note that  some color has leaked unto the egg white.

Alcoholic Beverages: What You Should Know

Be honest now.  When alcoholic beverages are involved, what type of drinker are you--a teetotaler, a moderate drinker, a heavy drinker, or (I hope not) an excessive drinker? Let's see what research can tell us about the various categories.

Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day Without Cabbage Stink

CabbageWhat’s the best way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? With corned beef, cabbage, and beer, of course.  BUT, you reply, the smell of cooked cabbage can ruin the holiday for all.  Cheer up.  That tell-tale scent can be avoided.  Here’s a little-known fact that may help you a lot:  cabbage develops an unpleasant smell only when it’s overcooked.  Why?  Cabbage contains substances that, when broken down, turn into smelly sulfur compounds.  The longer the cabbage is cooked, the worse the odor.

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