Experts available: Thanksgiving food safety, holiday budgeting … – Virginia Tech

The Virginia Tech media relations office has the following experts available for interviews this week surrounding issues in the news. To schedule an interview, please contact

Experts offer food safety tips for Thanksgiving and the holiday season

Meals at Thanksgiving serve as great social occasions for catching up with family and friends. The culinary delights on the table should be not just delicious and visually sumptuous, but also safe. “Measuring the internal temperature of cooked foods is an important part of food safety,”  said Melissa Wright, director of Virginia Tech’s Food Producer Technical Assistance Network. “Measurements should be taken with a food thermometer. You can order one from Amazon today and have it in time for Thanksgiving.” Wright and other food safety experts offered a smorgasbord of holiday food safety tips. Read more here.

History of Thanksgiving food

Foodies aren’t the only people who appreciate the significance of the Thanksgiving feast. For most, the holiday conjures visions of turkey dinners and pumpkin pies replete with all the fixings, such as mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and green bean casserole. But just as traditional Thanksgiving fare differs from foods served at the first Thanksgiving in Colonial America, the holiday’s modern spread is evolving to include global dishes that represent the diversity of today’s America. Anna Zeide, associate professor of history and director of the Food Studies Program at Virginia Tech, is available to share the history behind the day’s food. More here.

Tips for how to avoid family arguments at holiday gatherings 

The holidays are a great time for family and friends to reconnect. Unfortunately, it is also a time for feuds to brew and dinners to be ruined when controversial topics boil over. “Family members often do not agree on important issues such as climate change, immigration, election integrity, crime, and abortion,” says Virginia Tech expert Todd Schenk. “Being thoughtful in the when and how of approaching sensitive topics is key to having productive conversations. I would suggest explicitly seeking agreement among the parties that you are going to ‘go there’ and perhaps set aside a time for doing so.” Read more here.

Planning a holiday shopping budget is the best way to navigate the season

As the holiday season approaches, it is important to begin budgeting for your gift shopping ahead of time. Taking proactive steps now will help you manage expenses wisely and make the most of the festive season. Virginia Tech economist Jadrian Wooten and finance expert Jesse Lineberry share why. More here.

Cybercrime expert offers safety tips for online holiday shopping

The holiday shopping season is ramping up and unfortunately, so are criminals looking to take advantage of your urge to get discounted prices. Each year these scams seem to be more sophisticated, making them harder to sport. Virginia Tech cybercrime expert Katalin Parti shares these tips to help you avoid falling victim. More here.

Research Highlights

Are your Cyber Monday purchases legit? There’s (going to be) an app for that

Receiving a bogus designer handbag or imitation Wagyu beef might infuriate a Cyber Monday consumer, but a knock-off respirator or a fake pace-maker could imperil them.

Virginia Tech researcher Emma Meno is developing a mobile app to empower buyers to ensure their purchases are legitimate. In a study published for Micromachines earlier this fall, Meno and a team of researchers described their work to date.

“Counterfeiters put things on the market that look like authorized medical devices or they intercept a legitimate transaction,” said Emma Meno, a research associate at the Virginia Tech National Security Institute. “A fake biodevice is a huge health risk, and the growing number of people who are affected by this is worrisome.”

In the days leading up to Cyber Monday last year, law enforcement agencies took down almost 13,000 websites peddling phony luxury goods or pirated content. While there are steep legal ramifications for counterfeiting, they’re only enforceable if someone gets caught.

How certain media talk about AI may have everything to do with political ideology 

Even as artificial intelligence (AI) becomes embedded into every fabric of our daily lives — from language translation to virtual personal assistants — it continues to be a divisive issue. As its reach expands, Virginia Tech researchers are seeking to understand which sections of society might be more receptive to AI and which sections may be more averse to it.

In the recently published research “Partisan Media Sentiment Toward Artificial Intelligence,” authors from the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business Angela Yi, Shreyans Goenka, and Mario Pandelaere – examined the varied reactions to AI by analyzing partisan media sentiment. Their work was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

The researchers found that articles from liberal-leaning media have a more negative sentiment toward AI than articles from conservative media. In other words, liberal-leaning media tend to be more opposed to AI than conservative-leaning media.


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