Archive for Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Holiday sparks safety reminders for trick-or-treaters

Partygoers should use caution with food; costumes should properly fit children

October 29, 2003


I'm throwing a Halloween party for everyone in the neighborhood. How can I keep food safe to eat?

Make sure there is plenty of room in your refrigerator to store cold food before, during and after the party. The refrigerator should be 40 degrees or cooler to keep food as cold as necessary to prevent bacterial growth.

If the refrigerator is packed too tightly, cold air can't circulate and food will not get cold. If the refrigerator is too crowded, you might be able to free up space by storing and cooling drinks in coolers with ice.

During the party, make sure cold food is being switched with fresh, cold food every hour and a half or so. Make sure hot food is remaining hot at a safe temperature of 140 degrees or above while it is served. Food should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Serve food on small platters rather than on one large platter so it is easier to refresh. Replace empty platters with clean platters rather than add fresh food to a dish that has been sitting out. Use chafing dishes, crock pots or warming trays to keep food hot. Nest cold food in bowls of ice.

If you're having any food catered, first make sure you're working with a reputable caterer and make sure you know if you're expected to provide chafing dishes, or if the cater will bring them. Properly working chafing dishes keep hot food at 140 degrees or above. Will the food be delivered? If not, have a plan to keep hot food hot and cold food cold after you pick it up.

Food that has been at room temperature for at least two hours should be thrown away. Refrigerate leftovers and eat them within two to three days, or freeze them for longer storage.

In addition to food safety, here are some other safety rules to keep in mind on Halloween:

Basic trick-or-treat safety

  • Young children should always go trick-or-treating with an adult.
  • Children of any age should never trick-or-treat alone; they should have at least two buddies with them.
  • Stay in familiar neighborhoods. Trick-or-treaters should plan their route before leaving home and tell an adult what the route is. Adults should set a curfew. Send a cell phone along with older ghouls and goblins who go out by themselves. Make sure the battery is charged and make sure an adult is available if trick-or-treaters need to call home.
  • Trick-or-treaters should wait until they get home and their parents can check their candy before they indulge.
  • Adults going with trick-or-treaters should clearly point out a meeting place in case they get separated. Tell the child where you'll be. Will you walk with them to each door, or wait on the sidewalk in front of each home?
  • Discard homemade treats.

While trick-or-treating

  • Be cautious of strangers.
  • Never go into a house to accept a treat; stay in the door way or on the step.
  • Say thank you for the treats.
  • Don't play near jack-o'-lanterns; the candles inside may start a fire.
  • Only visit houses where the lights are on.
  • Walk on sidewalks and driveways.
  • Cross a street at the corner or crosswalk. Obey traffic signals.
  • Carry a flashlight.

Costume safety

  • Wear costumes with reflective tape or markings so the costume is easy for drivers to see.
  • Carry a white or reflective bag for treats.
  • Make sure costumes don't drag on the ground.
  • Wear shoes that fit -- even if they don't go with the costume.
  • Don't wear masks while walking from house to house.
  • Carry only flexible knives, swords and other props.
  • Buy costumes made of flame-retardant material.
  • Securely fasten whiskers and wigs. Wigs can fall into the child's line of vision.
  • Use Halloween makeup, colored hair spray and other costume products instead of masks, wigs, etc., when possible.
  • Don't decorate your face with things that aren't intended for your skin. Like soap, some things are OK on your skin, but not in your eyes. Some face paint or other makeup may say on the label that it is not for use near the eyes. Believe this, even if the label has a picture of people wearing it near their eyes. Be careful to keep makeup from getting into your eyes.
  • If you're decorating your skin with something you've never used before, you might try a dab of it on your arm for a couple of days to check for an allergic reaction before you put it on your face. This is an especially smart thing to do if you tend to have allergies.

Expecting trick-or-treaters

  • Make sure your yard is clear of items such as ladders, hoses, dog leashes and flower pots that can trip the young ones.
  • Use battery-operated jack-o'-lantern lights instead of candles to prevent fires.
  • If you use candles, make sure other decorations won't be blown into the flame.

What is the nutritional value of pumpkin?

The bright orange color of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta carotene. Beta carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body. In the conversion to vitamin A, beta carotene performs many important functions in overall health.

Current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and offers protection against heart disease.

Beta carotene offers protection against other diseases as well as some degenerative aspects of aging.

The nutrition facts for one serving, 1/2 cup, cooked, boiled and drained pumpkin without salt is: 25 calories, 1 gram protein, 6 grams carbohydrates, 1.5 grams dietary fiber, 18.5 milligrams calcium, 0.7 milligrams iron, 282 milligrams potassium, 132 REs vitamin A, 6 milligrams vitamin C, and 1.5 milligrams vitamin E.

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