culinary lesson, food poisoning, health, safety, sanitizer
Culinary Lesson #15 - Preventing Foodborne IllnessesThursday, March 07, 2013
Q13: A few weeks ago after eating at a local restaurant, I began to show signs of food poisoning. What types of things cause someone to get food poisoning?
|Image from wisegeek.com.|
- Time-Temperature Abuse.
- Food is at risk anytime it is left at temperatures between 41°F and 135°F for too long. This range of temperatures is called the danger zone. Within this range, try and avoid temperatures between 70°F to 125°F in particular.
- When cooling food, cool from 135°F to 70°F within two hours, and then from 70°F to 41°F or lower within the next four hours. The best way to do this is to transfer food to a shallow pan in an ice bath and to stir often before transferring into the refrigerator or freezer. The last thing you want to do is transfer your hot dish directly to the refrigerator before being cooled.
- When reheating food, heat to 165°F within two hours and then keep at 135°F or higher.
- When thawing food, never do so at room temperature. The best way is to thaw in a refrigerator several days in advance, but another acceptable method is to submerge food under running water that's 70°F or lower. Never let the temperature of the food go above 41°F for more than four hours.
- To avoid time-temperature abuse, every home cook should own a bimetallic stemmed thermometer. Costing next to nothing, it's a very important tool that takes all the guess work out and keeps everyone safe.
- This one seems pretty easy to prevent, but after reading an article about the subject, a recent investigation proved that even when being watched, many home cooks cross-contaminate. When going between cooked and raw meat and poultry, either have separate utensils and trays or make sure to clean and sanitize in between uses. To minimize confusion, consider having separate, color-coded cutting boards (one for raw poultry, one for raw meats, and one for everything else). As far as storage goes in your refrigerator, store ready-to-eat foods at the top, followed by seafood, whole cuts of beef and pork, ground meat and ground fish, and then whole and ground poultry at the bottom.
- As silly as it might sound, most of us were actually taught how to wash our hands properly back in kindergarten. But now as adults, very few of us take the proper steps - even when working with food. Any time you handle raw meat or seafood, handle chemicals, go to the restroom, etc., take the time to wash your hands properly. A proper hand washing should use water that's at least 100°F, should use a lather of soap, and should take 20 seconds from start to finish. Also note that hand antiseptics (aka hand sanitizers) are not a replacement for washing your hands!
- Poor cleaning and sanitizing usually results from wiping down utensils and work surfaces, rather than actually washing, rinsing, and sanitizing them. Proper cleaning should consist of removing food bits from the surface, washing the surface, rinsing the surface, sanitizing the surface, and allowing it to air-dry.
As you might have guessed, the previous list is just a condensed version of some of the main points. For more specifics, consider the following sites:
The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC)
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
*Facts used throughout this response come from the National Restaurant Association's ServSafe resources.