Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cooking 101-A

Keeping Foods Safe To Eat
Food borne illness is rampant in this country, which is amazing to me since we have refrigeration and ovens in every home. Years ago I visited a church and the priest told me of the church's main fundraising event, a picnic in July, complete with homemade potato salad, fried chicken, baked beans, you name it. It brought all of the locals out and everyone had a great time. He showed me decades of church records, all hand written. As I paged through the early 1900's I noted the funerals went up anywhere from 3-7 days after the picnic. Cause of death was all stomach issue related. Hmmm... I pointed this out to him and asked if he thought it maybe to food borne illness. His eyes widened, obviously surprised and shocked that indeed that was most likely the cause. That year they called in the health department to educate all the volunteers on how to properly handle food.
*If a can is bulging or leaking, throw it out.
*If a food has unusual color, appearance or odor, throw it out.
*Cook chicken to 160.
*Cook pork until it is no longer pink.
*Be aware rare beef, particularly hamburger, can make you sick.
*Marinate food in the refrigerator.
*Fresh fruits and vegetables should be rinsed thoroughly. The new vegetable washes are generally a form of citric acid (as in lemon juice) and are not all that effective. The pesticides have actually been absorbed into the food, so cleaning the surface won't help. Your goal should be to remove the surface dirt/bacteria.
*Food should be colder than 40 degrees or warmer than 160 degrees. Freezers should keep food at 0 degrees.
*Do not leave food out for more than 2 hours.
*Thaw food in the refrigerator, microwave or in cold water in waterproof container.
*Do not eat moldy food, throw it out.
*To safely remove mold from salami and hard cheese, cut 1" off.
*Keep refrigerator clean, wash it with 1 Tablespoon of baking soda and 1 quart of water.
*Wash kitchen counters with bleach solution. If granite or marble, wash with soapy water, then polish.
*Scour sinks frequently with chlorine bleach cleanser.
*Wash your hands frequently to avoid cross contamination between meat and fresh foods. Keep nails short and clean. If you have to sneeze or blow your nose, remove yourself from the kitchen and wash your hands before you return.
*Clean cutting boards by washing in dishwasher or if wood, sanitize with 1 Tablespoon of bleach with one quart of water, washing with a brush.
*Pet dishes should be washed in sanitation cycle of dishwasher on regular basis.

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