Alexander County Center Newsletter
July, 2021
Green Thumb Gazette Newsletter

You should have received our latest newsletter produced by our new horticulture agent, Cari Mitchell.  If you would like to receive this newsletter by email please contact Julie Campbell at
julie_campbell@ncsu.eduIf you missed the email and would like to see July's edition click the following link: July Newsletter  

Unwanted Guest for the 4th: Salmonella & E.Coli

Summer is officially here and July 4th is right around the corner. With many COVID restrictions being lifted, one of my favorite thing to do during the holiday is a cook out. There are many things that we need to do for the perfect cookout which might include getting enough drinks or determining what side dish you should make. What you probably won’t be thinking about is whether you are properly storing your food and how to avoid food poisoning.

Perhaps salmonella or E. coli is not the first thing you think about when you are put the menu together. But to keep your event from being remembered for all the wrong reasons, it’s important to follow a few precautions. Foodborne illnesses tend to increase during the summer months for two reasons. One reason is that bacteria tend to multiply faster when it’s warm. Another reason is that people are cooking outside more, away from the refrigerators, thermometers, and washing facilities of a kitchen.

Stay healthy and safe during warmer months by following these food safety recommendations during your cookout:

When bringing food to a cookout, remember to use an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. A full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one. When using a cooler to store your food, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter and avoid opening the cooler repeatedly so that your food stays colder longer.

When cooking on the grill, remember to use separate cutting board and utensils for raw meat and ready to eat items like vegetable and bread. Use a food thermometer to make sure your meat and poultry are cooked thoroughly to their safe minimum internal temperature. Beef, pork, lamb and veal should reach an internal temperature of 145F with a 3 minutes rest time. Ground meats should reach an internal temperature of 160F and whole poultry, poultry breast, and ground poultry should be cooked to 165F.

When serving food outdoors, remember that perishable food should not sit out for more than two hours. In hot weather above 90F, food should NEVER sit out for more than one hour. Serve cold food in small portions and keep the rest in the cooler. After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served at a temperature of 140F or warmer.

For more information on food safety and correct cooking and holding temperature, please visit our website at or give us a call at 828-632-3125. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out. Check out this awesome infographic about summer grilling from the Centers for Disease and Control. 

Fire Ants are Here
There have been multiple reports of fire ants in Alexander County in the southern and eastern portion of the counties.   Fire ants are native of southern Brazil. Not only are the mounds unsightly but stings from a disturbed fire ant mound are painful.   Until recently Alexander County was one of the few counties considered to be fire ant free.  The majority of NC counties are quarantined for fire ants. Thus NCDA regulates the movement of certain items that might carry ant infestations to other uninfested parts of the state and country.   Contact the N.C. Cooperative Extension-Alexander County Center at 632-4451 for information on fire ant insecticides appropriate for use by the general public and by public health and pest management professionals.
4-H Update
The Alexander County 4-H Program has been holding Summer Opportunities for youth.  For a recap and to see what programs are coming up in July please click the following link:  July Newsletter
Alexander County Offices will be closed Monday, July 5th in observance of Independence Day.
NC State University and N.C. A&T State University work in tandem, along with federal, state and local governments, to form a strategic partnership called N.C. Cooperative Extension.

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