Author Archives: SC DHEC

DHEC in the News: Recycle your leftovers, changes in daily rain, childhood ear infections

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Don’t waste Thanksgiving: Recycle your leftovers, grease

No holiday is more associated with food and eating than Thanksgiving. While it’s not the “waist” issue you might think about, it can definitely be a “waste” problem.

Recycle your leftovers

This Thanksgiving don’t toss your leftovers. Food waste is the No. 1 item thrown away by Americans, and the Department of Health & Environmental Control is leading an effort to cut down on food waste across South Carolina.

Changes in daily rain, not flood or drought, might leave South Carolina dry

Less rain is falling day to day in South Carolina. That could mean bigger trouble for water users and the environment than extreme storms or drought.

The unsettling finding comes from a recent study of more than 3,000 weather stations across the country, including several in the Palmetto State. The study also concluded that differences in the rainfall varied too much from one locality to another for any one-size-fits-all solution to compensate for it.

General Interest

Ear Infections in Childhood

This week Bobbi Conner talks with Dr. David White about diagnosing and treating ear infections (and chronic ear infections) in children.  Dr. White is a Professor in the College of Medicine and Director of the Pediatric Ear, Nose and Throat Program at MUSC Children’s Health.

5 gallons of leftover peanut oil? How to properly dispose of your Thanksgiving grease

By Adrianna Bradley

Thanksgiving grease can cook up plumbing disasters if you don’t know how to dispose of it correctly. While it seems tempting it’s important that you don’t flush that pan full of oil down your sink! Grease, oils, and fats can cause clogging problems in sewage systems.

Did you know that recyclers can turn your old grease into biofuel to power vehicles? Yes, that’s right. New techniques are allowing researchers to make biodiesel entirely from waste grease more cheaply and efficiently. Biodiesel is a clean-burning fuel that is used in many types of motor vehicles. So let’s save our pipes and sewer systems and make fuel instead.

There are many recycling centers across our state. Click here to find the closest location to you where you can go to drop off your old grease.

Cooking Oil Disposal Don’ts

  1. Don’t pour oil down your drain or toilet: It can clog your pipes and/or the city sewer mains.
  2. Don’t dispose of oil in compost bins or piles: Fats in general are bad for compost, and cooking oil is nothing but fat.
  3. Don’t pour hot oil into the trash. 

What Will You Do With Your Thanksgiving Leftovers? Please Don’t Waste Food.

By Adrianna Bradley

Don’t toss your Thanksgiving leftovers!

Food waste is the No. 1 item thrown away by Americans, accounting for 21.6 percent of the nation’s waste in 2014, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  South Carolina produced over 600, 000 tons of food waste in fiscal year (FY) 2016 (July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016).

This Thanksgiving we want you to join the fight to cut down on food waste in our state. If you’ve tired yourself out from creating new recipes with your Turkey Day leftovers, try feeding people instead of our landfills. In case you didn’t know, one in eight Americans struggle with hunger — including nearly 800,000 South Carolinians — according to Feeding America. Food donation is a great way to provide surplus food to those who need it while recycling your Thanksgiving leftovers. Besides, isn’t this time of year also the season for giving?

If you cannot donate or reuse your leftover, try composting it. Sending food waste to a composting facility or composting at home can improve soil health and structure, increase water retention, support native plants and reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides.

As you can see, there are several options to avoid sending things to our state’s landfills. It’s important that we Don’t Waste Food SC.

Living Well With Diabetes

Diabetes can be an overwhelming experience both physically and mentally. It is common to feel overwhelmed, sad, or angry when you are living with diabetes. You may know the steps you should take to stay healthy, but have trouble sticking with your plan over time.  That’s why it is so important to manage your diabetes every day.  Below are tips on how to cope with your diabetes, eat well, and be active:

  • Reduce your level of stress – Too much stress can cause a rise in your blood sugar. Try deep breathing, gardening, taking a walk, meditating, working on a hobby, or listening to your favorite music. Ask for help if you feel down. A mental health counselor, support group, member of the clergy, friend, or family member who will listen to your concerns may help you feel better.
  • Eat well – Make a diabetes meal plan with help from your health care team that has food choices that are lower in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt and higher in fiber. Choose foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, bread and cereals, and low-fat or skim milk and cheese. Drink water instead of juice and regular soda.
  • Be active – Set a goal to be more active most days of the week. Start slow by taking 10-minute walks, three times a day. Twice a week, work to increase your muscle strength. Use stretch bands, do yoga, heavy gardening (digging and planting with tools), or try push-ups. Stay at or get to a healthy weight by using your meal plan and moving more.
  • Find a diabetes education class – Take classes to learn more about living with diabetes. There may be a diabetes self-management education (DSME) class in your area that can introduce you to new tools and give you support with managing your diabetes. To find a class, check with your health care team, hospital, or the DHEC office in your area. You can also search online.

To learn more about your risk for diabetes, click here to take an online risk assessment.  For more information on how to prevent or manage diabetes in SC, please email ndpp@dhec.sc.gov or call 803-898-1934 to speak with someone in DHEC’s Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity and School Health Division.

 Additional Resources to Help You Prevent and Manage Diabetes

Safe Food Handling for Thanksgiving

By Adrianna Bradley

While Thanksgiving Day is full of family get-togethers, giving thanks, and lots of food, we want to make sure you avoid any food-handling issues that could potentially result in your family and friends becoming ill.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food-handling errors and inadequate cooking are the most common problems that lead to poultry-associated foodborne disease outbreaks in our country.

There are several things to remember before, during and after you fry your turkey this holiday.

Don’t buy the bird too early

If you bought your turkey fresh, keep it in the refrigerator (40° F or less) and cook it within one to two days. If you bought your turkey frozen, to thaw it safely in the refrigerator, allow for a thaw rate of 4-5 pounds per day. For example, for a 12-pound bird it will take 2.5 to 3 days in the refrigerator to thaw. It should then be cooked within one to two days.

You can thaw your turkey in the refrigerator, a sink of cold water that is changed every 30 minutes, or in the microwave. Never thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter. A frozen turkey is safe indefinitely, but a thawing turkey must defrost at a safe temperature. When the turkey is left out at room temperature for more than two hours, its temperature becomes unsafe as it moves into the danger zone between 40° F and 140° F, where bacteria can grow rapidly.

Safely Cook Your Turkey

Set the oven temperature to at least 325° F. Place the completely thawed turkey with the breast side up in a roasting pan that is 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep. Cooking times will vary depending on the weight of the turkey. To make sure the turkey has reached a safe internal temperature of 165° F, check by inserting a food thermometer into the center of the stuffing and the thickest portions of the breast, thigh, and wing joint. Let the turkey stand 20 minutes before removing all stuffing from the cavity and carving the meat.

Turkey Frying  

When working with large amounts of hot oil, select a cooking vessel large enough to completely submerge the turkey without it spilling over. The oil should cover the turkey by 1 to 2 inches. Select a safe location outdoors for deep frying a turkey. Heat the cooking oil to 350° F. Very slowly and carefully lower the turkey into the hot oil. Monitor the temperature of the oil with a thermometer during cooking. Never leave the hot oil unattended.

Allow approximately 3 to 5 minutes of cook time per pound. When reaching approximate time needed, check to see if the turkey is safely cooked by removing the turkey from the oil, draining the oil from the cavity and with a food thermometer, check the internal temperature of bird. DO NOT test the temperature while the turkey is submerged in oil.

Monitor Your Leftovers

After dinner, remember to follow the two-hour rule. For safety, do not leave the turkey or other perishable foods sitting out at room temperature longer than two hours. Refrigerate your leftovers at 40° F or colder as soon as possible to prevent food poisoning.

If you have any questions about keeping your leftovers safe, you can check out the USDA’s FoodKeeper app. It’s available on Android and Apple devices. The app provides storage timelines for the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, for more than 500 products.