The Club Fit Blog

April 16, 2020 by Karen Ireton

Food Safety Tips from John Markell

Club Fit Nutritionist John Markell has some pointers to help keep your food safe and fresh

John Markell is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Master Trainer at Club Fit Briarcliff. He began baking for fun at the age of 12, which fostered a love of cooking or baking for others. His dual interests in food and fitness made becoming a nutritionist the perfect career choice for him. He firmly believes that understanding the role food plays in the body is key to unlocking one’s peak physical fitness. He has provided us with good tips and advice to observe in order to help reduce potential contaminants.

Though evidence suggests COVID-19 is not transmitted through food, it is especially important to practice good food safety hygiene at all times:

  • Wash hands before touching anything ready-to-eat and after handling uncooked foods
  • Cook all meats, fish, and eggs to their minimum safe internal temperatures
  • Do not “double-dip” with utensils or foods in communal foods (e.g., peanut butter, mustard, butter, etc.)
  • Avoid sharing meals
  • Wash all raw and unprocessed produce prior to consumption
  • Sanitize food preparation surfaces after cooking and before serving
  • Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw and ready-to-eat foods separate at all times

When stocking up on shelf-stable foods at the store:

  • Avoid salty canned or packaged foods and opt for low sodium options such as beans, vegetables, tuna, nuts, etc. (aim for < 140 mg sodium per serving) 
  • Check expiration dates before purchasing and always read the labels, nutrition facts, and ingredients lists to learn about calories, vitamins/minerals, and potential allergens 
  • Choose whole grain products for breads, pastas, tortillas, etc. (best if the product’s first listed ingredient is whole grain)
  • Feel free to get creative and experiment with cooking whole grains such as oats, barley, farro, quinoa, buckwheat, etc., all of which will last long periods of time if stored in air-tight containers kept in cool and dry places out of direct sunlight
  • Dried beans are a great way to avoid added salt or preservatives and will last virtually indefinitely if kept in air-tight containers in cool and dry places out of direct sunlight
  • Choose cereals with little to no added sugars that have at least two grams of fiber per serving and are fortified with vitamins and minerals like B-complex and iron
  • Shelf-stable dairy and alternatives (e.g., soymilk, almond milk, oat milk, etc.) are very versatile and will last for months if left unopened. You can also purchase shelf-stable dairy milk

When stocking up on frozen options:

  • Avoid ready-to-eat meals that are often high in added fats, salts, and sugars
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables are very versatile and will last for months in the freezer
  • Avoid seasoned frozen vegetable stir-fry or cooking mixes or frozen fruits with syrup or added sugars
  • Unseasoned frozen fish fillets, chicken breast strips, lean burger patties, and other animal-based proteins can last for months in the freezer and be thawed in the fridge as needed or cooked from frozen to their respective minimal safe internal cooking temperatures
  • Check expiration dates before purchasing and always read the labels, nutrition facts, and ingredients lists to learn about calories, vitamins/minerals, and potential allergens 
  • Breads can be kept in the freezer to extend their shelf-life and thawed as needed

Additional precautions to follow:

  • Wash your hands immediately after returning home
  • Wipe down groceries whenever possible before putting them away. Wash your hands again after doing this
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before use, including items you peel, such as bananas and citrus fruits

More Coronavirus food safety tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics can be found here: Follow These Tips to Help Keep Your Family Safe

Looking for some recipe ideas?

Here are some of our Club Fit heart-healthy favorites you can make at home. Want even more meal ideas? Below are full PDFs from our Club Fit Community Cookbook. This diverse collection of dishes was gathered from our members and staff in honor of our 45th anniversary in 2018. If you make any of these recipes, please tag us on Instagram or our Briarcliff or JV Facebook pages so we can see your results!
opens in a new windowStarters | opens in a new windowSalads | opens in a new windowEntrées | opens in a new windowDesserts

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