By MADDY ROHR
K-State Research and Extension news service
MANHATTAN, Kan – Inflation has increased 13% in the last year, so it is no shock to shoppers that groceries have become more expensive. But Kansas State University food scientist Karen Blakeslee said that the outbreak of avian influenza in the U.S. also is partly responsible for increased holiday food costs.
“As of Nov. 16, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 50,371,760 birds have been affected, and this includes commercial and backyard flocks. It has been found in 46 states and there are 623 reported outbreaks,” said Blakeslee, who also is director of K-State’s Rapid Response Center for Food Science.
Poultry deaths have resulted in meat and egg shortages leading to increased prices of meat and eggs. To save on grocery costs, Blakeslee said consumers can look for stores that may offer a free turkey when buying a certain number of other groceries.
“As a guideline (for buying a turkey), plan about one pound of turkey per person. Try buying a smaller turkey, and supplement with another favorite meat if you are having a large gathering,” Blakeslee said, adding that hosts can share the time and expense with guests by having them bring a favorite food.
Other tips to save on food costs include using coupons, buying only what you need, trying store brands instead of name brands and making a list before you go to the store to reduce impulse shopping.
To guard against poultry that may have been infected by avian influenza, “it is important to handle the meat safely, wash your hands, and cook the poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This is true for healthy poultry, also,” Blakeslee said.
Avian influenza can be transferred to humans by close contact with infected birds, Blakeslee said. It is important to not handle birds that appear ill or have died.
Blakeslee publishes a monthly newsletter called You Asked It! that provides numerous tips on being safe and healthy. More information is also available from local extension offices in Kansas.