Wondering how to safely thaw frozen meat, how to detect food spoilage in canned goods or what cooking temperatures kill the harmful bacteria found in pork? Ask Karen!
AskKaren.gov is a consumer education site that “provides information for consumers about preventing foodborne illness, safe food handling and storage, and safe preparation of meat, poultry, and egg products”. It operates under the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. Visitors to the site can search the food safety knowledge base, chat live with a food safety expert or submit a question.
A particularly puzzling food safely incident lead me to the AskKaren site. After cutting open a roast chicken, we were horrified to discover a slight green tinge to the meat closest to the breast bone. Google search after google search yielded no definitive answer, only spectulation from other consumers in online forums about the cause and whether or not it was safe to consume.
Not exactly the information source you’re looking for when dealing with food safety. That’s when I stumbled across AskKaren.gov. A brief scan of the site showed page after page of definitive answers to food safety questions, but the mystery of the green chicken wasn’t covered in the knowledge base so I submitted a question as the live chat is only available during daytime hours.
The next morning, I received an email back with this answer:
This is a condition called, ‘ischemia.’ It happens when the breast area of a chicken or turkey grows too fast and the tissue dies. The rest of the chicken is just fine to eat, but of course you would not want to eat the green part. If you accidentally did eat some, it wouldn’t harm you as the cooking would kill anything there.
It is not possible to detect this condition during the slaughter and processing of chicken, but most grocers will refund your money if you end up with one of these chickens.
I hope this helps.
the Ask Karen Team
A more recent freezer left open crack accident left me wondering whether the contents were safe to consume so I asked Karen and was reassured that although the contents would lose quality, it was safe to refreeze them. And Karen was right, the ice cream was slightly worse, but still edible. The Ask Karen team saved me hundreds and hundreds of dollars in food that would have otherwise been discarded.
Now, Ask Karen is my go-to resource for food safety information. What isn’t covered in the knowledge base is promptly answered by members of the Ask Karen Team.