During my career, I have been fortunate to work alongside many fantastic peers within academia and the poultry and allied poultry industries who have all contributed to my poultry education in some way, shape, or form. The Braswell Distinguished Professor position at North Carolina State University in the Prestage Department of Poultry Science provides me an opportunity to continue my poultry education and work alongside individuals within the North Carolina layer industry. It will also allow me to learn about the challenges the state and the industry are facing, develop problem solving strategies for those challenges, and provide outcomes that help to continue to provide nutritious products to consumers in North Carolina, the United States, and the world.
I initially became interested in animal science during college, thanks to my microbiology professor. Specifically, I have been interested in the relationship bacteria had with animals. The combination of my microbiology professor vibrantly describing how animals need bacteria to survive, and my time working on the West Virginia University farm where I observed professors pulling rumen fluid for experiments in their artificial rumen, led me to my career in poultry science and food safety.
What is Food Safety?
Food safety has different meanings to many different people. Per USDA, food safety is the conditions and practices that preserve the quality of food to prevent contamination and food-borne illnesses. The World Health Organization states that unsafe food contains harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, and chemicals substances that can cause more than 200 different diseases. To you, food safety probably means washing your hands before and after handling meats and eggs.
My contribution to food safety has been in the area of microbiology. For over 20 years now, I have worked with partners within the poultry industry to understand the relationship bacteria have with poultry in an attempt to find ways to prevent the bad ones from entering the food chain. My research program has evaluated the ways harmful organisms move through a poultry company, starting with the breeders and ending in the processing plant.
How Can Consumers Contribute to Food Safety?
Overall, my goal has always been to provide the poultry industry with the most up-to-date information and tools necessary to prevent harmful bacteria from causing disease within their flocks and preventing contamination in their products. However, I also realize that I, and everyone else who enjoy poultry meat and eggs, have a role to play in protecting ourselves from foodborne illness. By ensuring that food purchased directly from an egg supplier or a grocery store is stored, handled, and cooked properly is an essential part to ensuring we do not become ill from the eggs and poultry products we eat.
Storing poultry products and eggs at the correct temperature is a necessary step to guarantee bacteria are not capable of multiplying. Here are a few steps you can take to prevent bacterial grown on poultry meat and eggs:
- Make sure proper temperatures are maintained in your personal refrigerator.
- Properly handle all food items while preparing a meal to prevent cross contamination between food items.
- Frequently wash your hands and sanitize work spaces while preparing a meal, especially when the meal contains non-cooked items.
- Cooking your food appropriately is probably the most important step for ensuring a safe meal. Poultry meat should reach an internal temperature of 165°F and eggs should be cooked to 160°F.
To ensure the food we consume is safe, we must be aware of the risks associated with the improper handling of food we consume. By understanding the risks and taking the proper precautions to store, handle, and prepare our food correctly, there should be very little concern for us when it comes to worrying about foodborne illnesses, because our food is safe. Learn more about safe food handling and preparation from USDA.
Aaron’s Favorite Beet Pickled Eggs Recipe
My grandmother, and later my mother, would make these for me and my sisters around Easter time. I still crave them every spring and stole the recipe from her.
2 (15oz) cans of whole or sliced beets (I also like to substitute pickled beets for regular beets)
12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
1 cup of cider vinegar
- Drain beets, reserving 1 cup of the beet juice
- Place beets and eggs into a glass jar or plastic container (2qt should be enough
- In a pan bring the sugar, water, vinegar, and 1 cup of beet juice to a boil
- Pour the mixture over the beets and eggs
- Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours (longer periods of time allows for deeper penetration of the beet juice into the egg whites)
The beet pickled eggs will last for 2 weeks in the refrigerator if the jar or container is kept