Today, I took a “FOODSAFE” class; boy, did I ever learn things that part of me did not want to know but should have known since my school days! How to store, cook and cool food safely. I’m on overload!!!
Sometimes we ingest food that is already contaminated, thus swallowing the poison itself: that’s called a food intoxication. When we eat bad stuff that keeps growing inside us , that’s a food infection. And that’s not a picnic: Abdominal pain, diarrhea, chills, fever, nausea, vomiting… No thanks, i'll pass.
So I think to myself, “ok, I wash my hands, wash my hands, wash my hands, and that’ll take care of things”. NO NO and NO! What about work surfaces, utensils, insects, dishrags we use?
It matters what temperature the food is cooked at, kept warm at, how fast we can cool it down and the temperature it should stay at until the next reheating! Some food is safe when it’s dry but can become deadly once it’s cooked or re-hydrated. Did you know that melon and papaya are on the same “Potentially Hazardous Food” as poultry and eggs?
Bacteria gets killed when heated to the right temperature but some food produce toxins, which only go dormant as they are heated. Those toxins wake up once back to the danger zone between 40oF and 140oF. Leftovers must get warmed up to 165oF to be eligible to be safely on your plate again and kept to at least 140oF while you are eating so the bacteria does not multiply too rapidly!
OK – what next? I’ve got to make sure my fridge is at 40oF or lower and that the freezer is at 0oF or lower. When was the last time you checked up on your appliances? Do you know how to calibrate your thermometer to see if it’s giving an accurate reading?
Sneezing, sniffling, feverish? Stay away from food prep! Sore on your hand or long nails? Wear gloves and change them often! Did you know you should change your gloves as often as you would wash your hands? Did you think that being organized and preparing food days ahead of a big party is a good idea? Think again! Unless you have a walk-in fridge and/or freezer, you probably won’t be able to keep the food out of the danger zone temperature within the time it needs to be. Do you check your expiry dates? Do you buy from reputable merchants? Do you store your food in a proper container on the way home from grocery shopping on a hot summer day? Did you know you should keep any raw meat on the bottom shelf of your fridge because if the container should happen to leak, it won’t drip onto the lettuce or any ready -to - eat food that’s on the shelf below!
When conditions are right, bacteria can double every 20 minutes! When temperature hovers between 40 and 140oF,
one bacterium can become… **
· 2 after 20 minutes
· 4 after 40 minutes
· 8 after one hour
· 64 after two hours and
· 33,554,432 bacteria after 8 hours and 20 minutes! **
**info taken from FOODSAFE Level 1 workbook prepared by the British Columbia FOODSAFE Secretariat, Camosun College, Victoria, British Columbia.
Ouch! That’s too many little critters for my taste! What to do? Take a course! Purchase some thermometers and start using them when storing, heating and cooking your foodstuff. Be smart and stay healthy! I don’t want to lose my readership because microbes, bacteria and toxins have got one up on me.
No Siree Bob!
Salut to all the Health Inspectors and I tip my hat off (or my hairnet) and curtsy holding my protecting apron to you and will never forget that: “Better be Safe than Sorry”. Hopefully, when I meet you next it won’t be to ixnay my kitchen!
Better be a Little "S" than a Little Less! J