Anyone that knows me knows I’m a little obsessive about food safety, cross contamination, food temperature danger zones, food-borne illnesses and food etiquette.
In New York, spring is in full bloom and the outdoor cooking is coming, I’ve already had my first barbecue and know some of you have also. I feel compelled to share some of my views on food safety.
Food is precious, it gives sustenance, it gives you happiness. A full stomach is a good feeling and it should not come with the worry of being poisoned but as we as a society regularly seek the least expensive meal, certain levels of trust have eroded. Food that used to considered safe is questionable. Know where your food comes from for your own piece of mind.
For the latest on Food Recalls and Alerts visit the US government’s Food Safety site at www.foodsafety.gov/keep/recalls/index.html
It is common sense but I still hear stories of people doing what’s wrong. First of all, Do NOT eat recalled foods, Do NOT eat food you suspect has been recalled. Review the recall notice and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for disposing of the product safely.
This is one of my pet peeves when visiting someone else’s kitchen. My friends, please keep raw meat separate from cooked meat. Keep utensils, cutting boards and hands that have been exposed to raw meat away from cooked meat. Several years ago, I was at a friend’s barbecue party. The guest working the barbecue was having a good time, drinking and cooking. He had marinated some steak with some tasty juices. He grilled the steaks to a sizzling perfection, he didn’t want to waste the tasty juices so just before he served the steaks he poured his marinate over the meat. The flavor was magnificent but each guest that had eaten the steak was stricken with a case of bad diarrhea.
With the barbecue season just around the corner, it is wise to become cautious about the food you eat at outdoor gatherings.
- How long has that potato salad been sitting in the sun unrefrigerated?
- Are those hamburgers and hot dogs organic or the cheapest the host could afford?
- Is that chicken cooked all the way through?
- Are those pork chops cooked through?
- Do you trust the cook to prepare your meat properly?
Food Temperature Danger Zones
Most food-borne illnesses are easy to defend against just by keeping the food at proper temperatures. If you are the person responsible for cooking, take care to prevent your guests from suffering from food poisoning. There is a great chart of minimum temperatures at the US government Food Safety site www.foodsafety.gov/keep/types/index.html
Harmful bacteria is the usual culprit of food poisoning but other causes include viruses, parasites, toxins and contaminants. If you suspect have food poisoning or an allergic reaction to food, see your doctor. If it’s an emergency call 911, don’t take any chances.
I’m not talking about sticking your pinky up when your drink your tea, in this posting I’m referring to commonly overlooked faux pas like double dipping (sticking your chips into a dip after you’ve had a bite), not washing your hands, tasting the food with the spoon you use for stirring and serving different food with the same utensil (that one is more of a personal dislike).
This post is not meant to scare you, the outdoor party, barbecue and picnic season is upon us and I just want remind my friends to have a safe year.
- Refrigerate left-overs less than two hours after making them
- Dispose of mayonnaise based salads – do not re-use EVER!
- Always re-heat leftovers – NEVER eat cold left-overs.
- Do not add dressing to salad, keep the salad dressing on the side.
- Wash your hands regularly, use a different towel to dry your hands than you wipe the counter with.