Q. I have several holiday recipes that call for either meringues or using egg whites as a part of their preparation. Are these products safe?
A. It depends on the product and how it is prepared. Any time eggs are consumed raw or undercooked, there is a risk for illness. This is especially true for pregnant women, babies, young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems. As a rule, dry meringue shells, divinity candy and seven-minute frostings are safe because they are made by combining a hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites, so the egg whites are sufficiently heated. Meringue-topped pies and cookies will be safe when baked at 350 degrees for at least 15 minutes. Avoid icing recipes, chiffon pies or fruit whips made with raw, beaten egg whites. As an alternative, substitute pasteurized dried egg whites, whipped cream or a whipped topping. Any time you have a recipe that calls for uncooked eggs, make it safe by heating the eggs in one of the recipe’s other liquid ingredients over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 160 degrees, or by using pasteurized egg products. Another option is to look for an updated version of the recipe that has taken into account the necessary steps to prevent risk of food-borne illness.
Q. I bought a new house with several grape plants. Should I do anything with them right now?
A. In the fall, harvest the grapes and clean debris beneath the vine. Water the vines thoroughly so that the water in the soil provides a buffer around the roots to prevent cold damage. Wait until later in the winter to prune the vines.
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Q. What is the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) that has been in the agricultural news lately?
A. More strict federal rules will regulate how antibiotics, which are important for treating human diseases, can be administered to animals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will require oversight by a veterinarian whenever such antibiotics are administered to food animals via feed or water (even if the animals are not intended for food production). All of these antibiotics will require a VFD or prescription. The rules take effect Jan. 1. The main ideas behind the VFD is to reduce the chance for development of antibiotic resistance, foster responsible use of antibiotics, and protect human and animal health. For more details about how the VFD will affect your operation, contact your veterinarian.
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