Thursday, January 4, 2018

Food Handler’s Course

Foodborne illnesses can be prevented by following simple food safety practices. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension - Wise County provides a Food Protection Management Training Program that seeks to reduce the risk of food borne illness. 
The “Texas Food Establishment Rules (TFER)” was revised and updated and became effective October 11, 2015.  A major change in the revision now requires all food employees to complete an accredited food handlers training program within 60 days of employment.  The Texas Cottage Food Law also requires that anyone who operates a cottage food business have a food handler card. 
Food service employees and those who operate a cottage food business can attend a two hour Food Handler’s Class, accredited by the Texas Department of State Health Services, on Wednesday, January 17 from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension - Wise County office located at 206 S. State Street in Decatur. 
This 2 hour course will now be required for all food service employees to help promote the service of safe food.  The certificate is good for 2 years and is valid anywhere in the State of Texas. Participants will learn about good personal hygiene, cross contamination and time and temperature abuse.
Contact the Extension office at 940/627-3341 to sign up.  The registration fee is $20.00 and covers course materials and an official food handler card.  Registration deadline for the Food Handler certification course is Tuesday, January 16, 2018.  Space is limited. 
Individuals with disabilities who require auxiliary aide service or accommodation in order to participate in the event are encouraged to contact our office within 5 working days prior to the program.  Educational programs of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, national origin or genetic information or veteran status.
The class is taught in English, but Spanish handouts are available if requested in advance.
The Food Protection Management (FPM) Training Program is brought to you by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in cooperation with the Texas Department of State Health Services, and the County Commissioners Court Cooperating.

Winter Fire Ant Control

           Winter in Texas means cooler temperatures and less time out of doors. This does not always mean fewer insects however. Fire ants are generally less active during the winter months, but with our urban environments providing warmer pockets of habitat, these pesky insects continue to mound up in very annoying locations.
            The fire ants’ food needs change through the year. In temperatures below 75 degrees F the queen slows down her egg production thus the nutritional needs of the colony are changed. In colder weather conditions the ants do not seek out the high protein oily foods as they don in warm weather. Because of this change in food choice the ants will not feed on the typical fire ant bait formulated products (Amdro, Spectracide,  & Logic) which significantly reduces the effectiveness of these products. Neither broadcasting bait nor individually treating one mound at a time with bait, will produce satisfactory results in cold weather.
          Individual mound treatments are more effective fire ant control methods under these conditions. There are over 100 different products labeled for individual mound treatments of fire ants. Products for individual mound treatments vary in their formulations and active ingredients.

Success with Individual Mound Treatments for Fire Ant Control
·         Most dry formulations should be followed by 1-2 gallons of water, as directed.
·         Do not disturb the mound unnecessarily.
·         Do not create runoff when watering in the product
·         Mix liquid products according to their label instructions.
·         Apply products on warm, sunny afternoons. The ants will be closer to the surface and you will achieve better control.
·         When purchasing materials, note warnings about non-target organisms and apply as directed on the label.
·         Never dispose of unused chemicals down the drain as this introduces pollutants which the treatments plants are not equipped to remove and this harms the environment.

            Effective cool season fire ant treatments focus on individual mound treatments using the properly labeled materials. Bait formulated products are not effective in these temperatures because the ants will not feed on the baits. We will not be able to completely eradicate fire ants. However, with persistent treatment and the cooperation of neighbors we can greatly reduce the impact fire ants have on our daily lives.

Step Up & Scale Down With New 12-Week Program

          As the time draws closer to setting those New Year’s resolutions (or maybe a better term, ‘goals for the year’) you may want to consider our online Step Up & Scale Down, A Healthy You 2018; which is a12-week weight management program to help with your efforts.
Facilitated by our Healthy Texas office the online course starts January 8th, 2018. The program is based on the USDA Dietary Guidelines and covers a wide range of topics that address barriers most people face when trying to lose weight: proper goal setting, reading nutrition labels, meal planning, motivation, socializing and more. Lessons are self paced and feature new interactive lessons each week. The online course also includes discussion boards and group support.
Step Up Scale Down, A Healthy You 2018 will teach you how to eat healthy and incorporate physical activity into your daily life to help you lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. Cost for the 12-week program is $40.  To register, visit the website at You may also contact the Wise County Extension office at (940)627-3341 for further details.