Tracy Turner

Technical Editor
Focus Areas: 
Chow Line, consumer news, food safety, nutrition.
  1. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Storing small holiday meals safely

    Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we plan to host only our immediate family for Thanksgiving this year, but I still anticipate having leftovers. How long after Thursday can we safely eat the leftovers? As COVID-19 safety restrictions tighten across the country, many families are changing their usual Thanksgiving plans, with many planning to put precautions in place at holiday gatherings such as social distancing and asking those with COVID-19 symptoms not to attend, according to a nationwide survey from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The survey found that 79% of respondents say they plan to celebrate only with household members, 73% plan to follow social distancing measures, 67% plan to wear masks, and 62% plan to celebrate with no more than 10 people in...
  2. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: How to thaw a frozen turkey safely

    I’m making a turkey for the first time because, this year, we’re staying home for Thanksgiving and avoiding our traditional large holiday gathering due to the pandemic. However, as a novice, I’m not sure how to thaw the turkey. What do I do? Good question! It’s very important that you thaw and cook your turkey safely to help avoid developing foodborne illnesses. Thawing a frozen turkey correctly helps minimize the growth of bacteria, which can cause foodborne illnesses. While frozen, a turkey is safe indefinitely. However, as soon as it begins to thaw, any bacteria that might have been present before freezing can begin to grow again, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. There are three safe ways to thaw a...
  3. Photo: Getty Images

    Advanced planning and budgeting: Key to keeping holiday spending in check

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—With all the expenses that typically occurs during the winter holiday season, avoiding overspending can be hard. In fact, many struggle to stay within normal spending limits during the holidays, often taking months into the next year to pay off the resulting debt. While this has become an annual issue for many consumers, the economic stress many are already dealing with now as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the issue to take on even more significance this year. Already, some 49 percent of consumers say the pandemic has negatively impacted their holiday budgets, according to the 2020 Holiday Outlook by PwC, formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers. The international accounting firm’s survey of more than 1,000 consumers found that total holiday...
  4. A young girl on a poultry farm in Busia, Kenya. Photo: courtesy of Barbara Kowalcyk

    CFAES food safety center to research food safety in Kenya

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—The Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention (CFI) at The Ohio State University has been awarded a $770,000 grant to improve food safety and prevent foodborne illnesses in Kenya. The initiative is one of four new research projects announced by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative. The 3.5-year project, “Chakula salama: a risk-based approach to reducing foodborne diseases and increasing production of safe foods in Kenya,” includes a team of researchers from The Ohio State University, the University of Florida, Kenya Medical Research Institute, and the University...
  5. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Tips to enjoy holiday meals without packing on the pounds

    I’m wondering if you can offer any tips to help me avoid gaining weight but still enjoy the fall and winter holidays? I’ve already gained several pounds while working from home due to COVID-19 and I’m worried that the holidays will cause me to gain even more. With the holidays approaching, many people are concerned about trying to stay healthy while also enjoying all the rich, delicious foods and traditions associated with the many celebrations that are or will be soon occurring through the end of the year. While the issue of maintaining your weight or avoiding weight gain over the holidays is something that many people focus on this time of year, the issue has taken on even more significance for many people this year who’ve already gained weight during the...
  6. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Safe holiday celebrations

    With the COVID-19 pandemic still a major issue in my area, how can I celebrate the holiday season while keeping myself and my family safe? The COVID-19 pandemic is still a major issue in many areas, with the nation reporting more than 100,000 new cases in a day this week. In Ohio, for example, 4,229 new COVID-19 cases were reported Tuesday. With that in mind, health experts have released guidance on how to have safe holiday celebrations in the midst of the pandemic. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has offered recommendations on what people need to know before traveling, hosting, attending parties, or gathering with family and friends during the holiday season. When planning to host a holiday celebration, the CDC says the most important thing is to assess...
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    Chow Line: Kale can be a crunchy, healthy snack

    I know that kale is healthy for you, but I’m having a hard time getting my kiddos to eat it. Got any tips? You are correct: Kale is a very nutritious food! It contains vitamins A, C, B6, and K in addition to manganese, calcium, potassium, and iron. Additionally, kale is a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food that is high in antioxidants and rich in brain-healthy nutrients such as lutein, folate, and beta carotene. Research suggests leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and collards can help slow cognitive decline. “Kale is a healthy fall vegetable that can keep growing deep into cold weather,” said Tim McDermott, an educator with Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (...
  8. Spinach under cover in January, ready to harvest. Photo: CFAES

    Chow Line: Grow your own produce year-round in Ohio

    The COVID-19 pandemic has caused me to rethink how I access food, including a push to grow my own food, kind of like a victory garden. Where can I find tips and information on how to grow my own food in Ohio, even in the winter? You aren’t alone in your desire to take more control over your food this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people to express a desire to grow their own food. In fact, more consumers nationwide are expected to plant gardens this year. For example, online searches for “growing vegetables from scraps” increased 4,650% in March compared the same time last year, according to Google Trends. The good thing about Ohio is that the Buckeye state is a four-season growing environment, said Tim McDermott, an educator with Ohio State...
  9. $100,000 gift to CFAES to support food safety

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—A new endowed fund to support food safety has been established thanks to a $100,000 gift from Bill Marler and Marler Clark LLP PS, The Food Safety Law Firm. The gift, presented to The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Oct. 1, brings the fund’s total to $169,863 and establishes it as a permanent endowment for The Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention (CFI).  Founded as a nonprofit organization in 2006, CFI brought its 14-year record of protecting public health to CFAES in September 2019. The center, which is now housed within the CFAES Department of Food Science and Technology, has a mission to advance a more scientific, risk-based food safety system that prevents foodborne...
  10. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Black licorice warnings and tips for safe Halloween celebrations

    I heard that eating too much black licorice can cause heart problems. Is that true? In some cases, for some people, yes. With Halloween coming in a couple of weeks and candy sales up 13% this year as compared to this same time last year, according to the National Confectioners Association, it’s a good time to revisit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s warning regarding black licorice. The FDA warns that people over 40 who eat 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could experience an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia that could land them in the hospital. As mentioned in a previous Chow Line, black licorice contains glycyrrhizin, which is the sweetening compound derived from licorice root. The problem is that glycyrrhizin can...
  11. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow line: Frozen food safety

    We bought some frozen chicken breasts that already have grill marks on them. The grill marks mean the chicken is already cooked, so I can just heat it up in the microwave, right? Not necessarily.  While some frozen foods have the appearance of grill marks, browned breading, or other signs that normally indicate that the foods have been cooked, they can still be raw and need to be fully cooked before eating. It’s best to read the packaging on frozen foods before eating them to make sure you prepare them correctly. Proper preparation is key to avoiding foodborne illnesses from eating raw or undercooked foods that need to be cooked before eating. However, a new study released last week from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service...
  12. Chow line: Juice or whole fruit?

    Does eating a piece of fruit or squeezing it into a juice to drink offer the same health benefits? No. Even if you take an orange and squeeze fresh orange juice, drinking the juice of the orange doesn’t offer the same health benefits of eating the orange. Fruit juice lacks fiber, an important nutrient found in whole fruit, writes Dan Remley, an educator in family and consumer sciences for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). “Fiber helps the digestive system, lowers cholesterol, promotes a healthy colon, and lowers blood sugar spikes, just to name a few benefits,” Remley writes in The Juice on Juice, a blog post at the Live Healthy...
  13. Fall produce. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow line: Fall a great time for apples, peaches, blueberries, in addition to pumpkins

    I know that autumn means pumpkins will be available in abundance, but what other produce is in season in the fall? You are correct: This is the time of year when you will start to see pumpkins, squash, and gourds—which are all part of the Cucurbitaceae family—for sale in grocery aisles, farmers markets, and farms. But fall is also a good time to buy grapes, apples, watermelons, potatoes, berries, zucchini, yellow squash, and peaches, among many other seasonal fruits and vegetables. In fact, those are some of the commodities that many grocery stores are now starting to promote heavily at discounted prices in their grocery aisles, according to the Sept. 4 edition of the National Retail Report, a weekly roundup of advertised retail pricing information compiled by...
  14. Farm Science Review will hold live online sessions September 22-24. Photo: Getty Images.

    Supply chain, U.S. trade policy, COVID-19 to be discussed during Farm Science Review

    LONDON, Ohio—The U.S. trade policy, labor and immigration issues, agricultural commodity markets, and the food supply chain will be among the topics addressed at a panel discussion during the 59th annual Farm Science Review Sept. 22–24 at fsr.osu.edu.  The previously titled Tobin Talk, now The Talk on Friday Avenue, “Value Chains in Food and Agriculture,” on Sept. 22 at 10 a.m. at fsr.osu.edu, will feature comments from a panel of agricultural economists from The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).  The Talk on Friday Avenue is among a series of presentations at Farm Science Review to address topics relevant to the agricultural industry, from controlling weeds and managing beef cattle to...
  15. Nymphal and adult forms of the lone star tick. Clockwise, from bottom left: unfed nymph, engorged nymph, adult male, unfed adult female, and engorged adult female. For size reference, the center dot is approximately 0.8 mm diameter. Photo by Jeffery Alfred, used with permission from Iowa State University Extension.

    Chow Line: Tick that causes meat allergies found in Ohio

    Is there a tick that causes people to develop an allergy to red meat, and can it be found it Ohio? Yes, to both of your questions. The tick you are referring to is called the lone star tick, which, in certain cases, in some people, can cause an allergy to red meat after being bitten by the tick.  This species of tick entered Ohio over the last decade or so. It has since spread throughout the state, although it is more common in southern Ohio, said Tim McDermott, an educator with Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).  While the lone star tick prefers a wooded habitat, in many cases, it can also be found along the perimeter of pasture and hay fields that extend...
  16. Photo: CFAES

    Ohio 4-H blog brings STEM education to you virtually

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Interested in experiencing the COSI sensory playground virtually through the 360-degree lens of a 9-year-old? Want to learn how to conduct a field trip around the world through the use of virtual reality? Have you ever wondered how to make your own lava lamp?  A new website offered by the Ohio 4-H STEM program can show you all that and more.  The Ohio 4-H STEM blog provides youths, teachers, youth development professionals, volunteers, and parents with hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math ideas that are applicable to students of all ages.  The blog, which is organized by subject areas and categorized by grades K–12, offers engaging STEM programming that promotes and excites exploration and learning, said Mark...
  17. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow line: Peaches recalled due to salmonella

    Last week it was onions, and now this week peaches have been recalled due to salmonella. What is salmonella, and how do fruits and vegetables get contaminated with it? Good question. First, let’s look at the current recall that was linked to loose or bagged peaches packed or supplied by Prima Wawona or Wawona Packing Company LLC, according to an Aug. 27 alert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The peaches, which were sold in many large retailers, including Aldi, Target, Walmart, and Kroger, were recalled due to potential contamination with salmonella enteritidis. A list of the impacted fruit can be found here. The peaches recall occurs as a nationwide onion recall—also due to salmonella contamination—was expanded Aug. 18 ...
  18. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow line: Tips to save money on groceries

    My grocery bill has risen by almost $80 a month since March and it’s becoming harder to keep spending so much more than we used to. Do you have any tips on how we can cut our food costs? You aren’t alone in noticing the increase in the price of some foods. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices increased some 5.6% in June as compared to the same time last year. Additionally, between March and June, the cost of poultry and eggs have increased more than 7%, while the costs of veal and meat has increased more than 20%.  Much of the increase, experts say, has been attributed to several reason, including the increased demand for groceries with more people buying food to eat at home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as issues...
  19. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Some onions, ready-to-eat meat, and poultry products recalled

    How do I know if the onions or other food products in my pantry or fridge are part of a recall I just heard about? There are currently two recalls to which you might be referring. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning recently about onions that have been recalled by Thomson International Inc. of Bakersfield, Calif., due to concerns that the products might be contaminated with salmonella Newport. Likewise, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a public health alert this week for ready-to-eat meat and poultry products containing onions that were a part of the FDA warning. According to the FDA, the onions, recalled on Aug. 1, include all of Thompson International’s red, white, yellow, and sweet...
  20. Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention

    Chow Line: CFAES center offers food safety resources, information

    Is there a local source that I can use to find information and resources on food recalls?  While there are several online sources of information on food recalls, the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention (CFI) at The Ohio State University not only publishes information on the latest food recalls, it also provides multiple food safety resources, training, education, and information. Founded as a nonprofit organization in 2006, CFI brought its 14-year record of protecting public health to Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) in September 2019.  The center, which is now housed within the CFAES Department of Food Science and Technology, has a mission to advance a more scientific, risk-...
  21. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Meat thermometer is the best option to ensure food safety when grilling meat

    Why should I use a meat thermometer while barbecuing steak on the grill? Can’t you just look at the steak to determine if it’s done by the color of the meat? Although many people use color as an indicator of doneness when grilling meats, to lessen your chance of developing a foodborne illness, it’s best to use a meat thermometer to ensure that your meat is cooked to the correct internal temperature.  Your question is very timely, considering that July is National Grilling Month, with July 4th generally accepted as the most popular U.S. holiday for grilling, surveys have shown. And because your question is very similar to one that was asked in a previous “Chow Line” column, it’s best answered by reissuing that column here. According to...
  22. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Avoid hand sanitizers that contain methanol alcohol

    I’ve been searching for hand sanitizer and finally found a large bottle at a nearby store. The problem is, when I got home, I found out that it has methanol alcohol in it. Is it safe to use, and is it effective against COVID-19? No, it’s not safe to use, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In a series of advisories posted over the past several days, the FDA has issued warnings about several hand sanitizers that contain methanol alcohol, because methanol can cause serious side effects when absorbed through the skin and can cause blindness or death when swallowed. In fact, the FDA has published a list of hand sanitizers that it is advising consumers not to use because of potential methanol contamination. The federal agency said consumers should “...
  23. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Don’t bleach your food to protect against COVID-19

    I’m really worried about COVID-19 and want to keep my family safe, so lately, I’ve been rinsing my fresh fruits and vegetables with a mixture of bleach and water. That’s safe, right? No, that is not safe. You should NEVER wash or rinse ANY food product with any form of bleach, disinfectant, or any other household cleaning chemicals. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a notice to consumers alerting them to the dangers of rinsing, soaking, or washing any food products with bleach or disinfectant, after a significant number of consumers have been doing just that. Calls to poison centers around the country regarding exposures to cleaners and disinfectants have increased sharply since the beginning of the COVID-19...
  24. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow line: Salad recall prompts questions of parasite

    I read something about a salad recall due to cyclospora, but I’ve not really heard about cyclospora before – what is it? Cyclospora cayetanensis is a microscopic parasite that can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and fatigue. When people eat food or drink water that’s contaminated with cyclospora, they can develop an intestinal illness called cyclosporiasis. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced June 19 that they are investigating a multistate outbreak of cyclospora potentially linked to ALDI Little Salad Bar Brand Garden Salad from ALDI grocery stores, Hy-Vee Brand Garden Salad from Hy-Vee grocery stores, and Signature Farms Brand Garden Salad from Jewel-Osco.  As of now, the recalled...
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    Chow Line: First day of Summer? A look at what fruits and vegetables are in season now 

    Summer is finally here and I’m craving fresh cherries, sweet corn and delicious ripe tomatoes fresh off the vine. What other fruits and vegetables are in season during the summer? With tomorrow, June 20, being the first day of summer this year, now seems like a good time to revisit what fruits and vegetables are in season now. As published in a previous “Chow Line,” summer heat and long days make it a good time to indulge in a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables like berries, melons, sweet corn and tomatoes, among a wide range of plentiful produce. Not only are these items extremely fresh and flavorful because they’re in season, they’re also widely discounted because of the abundance of supply based on the time of year. Improved technology and...

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