Tips for the food hygiene and food safety

Discussion in 'Five Star Kitchen' started by sister herb, Apr 18, 2014.

  1. sister herb

    sister herb Official TTI Chef

    Nov 7, 2006
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    The riskiest foods
    Food poisoning is a horrible, even potentially life-threatening experience. But it's hard to determine if food is safe to eat, partly because problems are relatively rare.

    But knowing which foods are potentially risky can help. What helps even more is that the FDA-regulated foods most often linked to outbreaks tend to be the same year after year. (That list includes produce, seafood, egg, and dairy products, but not meat.)

    Be aware of the risk, but don't avoid these types of food. "They are everywhere and are part of a healthy diet," says Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) senior staff attorney, Sarah Klein.

    1. Leafy greens
    Yes, they're your favorite go-to salad greens—lettuce, escarole, endive, spinach, cabbage, kale, arugula, and chard.

    Greens can be contaminated by manure, dirty water rinses, or unwashed hands before you even purchase them. To avoid getting sick, wash produce and prevent cross-contamination (improper handling of meat in the kitchen can spread bacteria to other types of food, including greens) by washing hands and using separate cutting boards.

    2. Eggs
    This breakfast favorite has been linked to at least 138 outbreaks since 1998, most often due to Salmonella bacteria. The bacteria can lurk inside the egg, so proper cooking is key (which kills the germs). Avoid eating any products containing raw eggs, including cookie dough. And refrigerate eggs before using them.

    3. Meat
    Meat, which is regulated by the USDA not the FDA, caused at least 33,000 illnesses from 1998 to 2010, according to a CSPI report. Chicken was the top offender, with 455 outbreaks linked to almost 7,000 illnesses. Ground beef was second. In August 2013, 50,000 pounds of ground beef were recalled due to possible contamination with dangerous E. coli O157:H7. Raw food from animals—undercooked meat, raw eggs, raw milk, and raw shellfish—are the most likely foods to be contaminated, says the CDC. Treat uncooked meat and poultry as potentially contaminated, and make sure to cook them thoroughly. Clean any surfaces that meat has come into contact with, and follow FDA guidelines on food prep to avoid getting sick.

    4. Tuna
    This type of fish can be contaminated by scombrotoxin, which causes flushing, headaches, and cramps.
    If it is stored above 60° after being caught, fresh fish can release the toxin, which cannot be destroyed by cooking (and is unrelated to mercury contamination or other problems related to tuna and other fish).
    “You just can’t cook out all the things wrong with the food supply right now,” CSPI's Klein says.
    And with tuna and all seafood, "freshness is what's most important," she adds. "Seafood needs to be kept appropriately cold from the moment it comes out of the water to the time it hits your plate."

    5. Oysters
    Before being transformed into a pricey delicacy, oysters lurk on the ocean floor doing what they do best—filter feeding.

    And if the water they are filtering is contaminated, so are the oysters. (Or they can be contaminated during handling.)

    If served raw or undercooked, oysters can contain germs—mostly a gut-churner called norovirus and a bacterium known as Vibrio vulnificus—that can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

    6. Potatoes
    A freshly scrubbed spud that’s properly cooked is unlikely to cause illness. But watch out for potato salad, especially potato salad that's prepared at a restaurant or deli.

    Cross contamination—the transfer of germs from one type of food, usually meat, to another—can be the source of the problem and this can happen easily at the deli butcher case, says Klein.

    Potato-related outbreaks of illness have been traced to germs like Listeria (which can live on deli counters), Shigella, E. coli, and Salmonella.

    7. Cheese
    While restaurants are a key source of other food-related outbreaks, most people who get sick from cheese do so from products consumed at home.

    Cheese can be contaminated with bacteria like Salmonella or Listeria, which can cause miscarriages. (That’s why doctors warn pregnant women to avoid soft cheeses, such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, and Mexican style cheese.)

    8. Ice cream
    I scream, you scream. We all scream from ice cream? Ice cream has been linked to 75 outbreaks caused by bacteria like Salmonella and Staphylococcus between 1990 and 2006.

    One such outbreak occurred in 1994, when a batch of ice cream premix was transported in a truck that had carried nonpasteurized eggs, and then used to make ice cream without re-pasteurizing. In that instance, Salmonella sickened 224,000 people.

    Infection can also occur when people make ice cream at home using raw eggs.

    9. Tomatoes
    Although tomatoes were found “not guilty” in a 2008 outbreak that sickened thousands (the culprits were jalapeños and Serrano peppers), this summer favorite is a common cause of foodborne illness.
    “Lettuce or tomatoes may be contaminated, but once they enter a household, you can make sure that you don't allow the bacteria to grow and multiply,” says Hedberg.
    To do this: wash hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce; wash fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting, or cooking, even if you plan to peel it before eating; and keep fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw separate from other foods.

    10. Sprouts
    While sprouts are practically the poster child for healthy food, they are also highly vulnerable to bacterial contamination. "The seeds sprout in warm, moist conditions. It's like a spa for bacteria," says Klein.
    The FDA and CDC recommend that the elderly, young children, and those with weakened immune systems avoid eating raw sprouts.
    And healthy people should take an extra note of caution as well. "Raw sprouts are just too dangerous," says Klein. "If you're really committed to your sprouts, just saute them before adding them to anything."

    11. Berries
    Another common source of food poisoning is berries, including strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

    The CDC traced an outbreak of hepatitis A in 2013 to a frozen berry mix. A 1997 outbreak that sickened thousands of children via school lunches was also traced to hepatitis A-contaminated frozen strawberries (possibly from a farm worker in Baja California, Mexico).

    Other cases—linked to imported raspberries from Chile and Guatemala—have been caused by a germ called Cyclospora, which causes severe diarrhea, dehydrations, and cramps.

    12. Peanut Butter
    Who can forget the Great Peanut Butter Recall of 2012 (USA)?

    Hundreds of products around the nation were recalled after 42 people in 20 states were sickened from peanut butter tainted with Salmonella. All products originated from a processing plant in New Mexico.

    In 2008 and 2009, more than 700 people got sick, again after eating peanut butter contaminated with Salmonella. This type of contamination occurs during processing so the best consumers can do to protect themselves is to watch closely for recall notices. Or consider shopping at retailers who notify you if you buy a product that is later subject to a recall, Klein says.

    13. Melons
    There's nothing inherently dangerous about melons but the CDC has recorded several recent outbreaks related to cantaloupes, a member of the melon family.

    In 2012, 261 people were infected with Salmonella after eating cantaloupe grown on a farm in Indiana. Three of those people died. The year before, 147 people were sickened and 33 died, after eating cantaloupe contaminated with Listeria. Another 20 got Salmonella from this fruit.

    "Consumers should be scrubbing the surface of their melons just like potato using a stiff brush and running water," says Klein. "It's like trying to scrub off an English muffin . . . [but] when you're cutting the melons you're not bringing stuff from the outside right down into the interior."

    14. Kitchen Hygiene and How to Cook Cleanly
    At the first: wash your hands!

    One of my major pet peeves is seeing someone cook while wearing jewellery.

    Why anyone would (for example) mix ingredients with their hands, without first removing their rings, is totally beyond me! Your jewellery may be beautiful, but the microscopic germs lurking on and under its surfaces could put you out of action for days!

    It should go without saying, but it’s really essential that the rules of good hygiene must be closely followed in the kitchen.

    The germs that can cause food poisoning are usually controlled by heating (cooking) and/or chilling (refrigerating) our food, but given half a chance, they can easily spread around the kitchen — via hands, chopping boards, cloths, knives and other utensils.

    Here Are some Basic Hygiene Rules You Should Follow in the Kitchen

    Rule 1: Clean kitchen surfaces after every stage of preparing your recipe. Try to ‘clean as you go’. This may sound a little obsessive, but it’s not.

    Raw meat, poultry, fish, eggs and many other raw foods are the most common sources of germs, but they can easily cross-contaminate other foods. After handling these foods, always wash your hands, utensils and surfaces thoroughly before you touch anything else.

    Rule 2: One important way of stopping cross-infection is to make sure that you always use a different chopping-board for your raw meat and everything else. If you keep one for raw meat and fish, and another for all your other chopping, you will be making a major contribution to your health and kitchen safety.

    Rule 3:
    After use, wash all your dishes and utensils with hot water and dish washing liquid. (Don’t just run them under the water faucet!) Change the water regularly, then rinse in clean, hot water. When possible, leave every thing to drain until dry.

    Rule 4: Use paper towels whenever possible, if you can afford to buy them. Dish towels can be a source of cross-contamination so use them sparingly and change them regularly. Be sure to wash them in a hot-wash cycle.

    Rule 5: Use the “sani-rinse” cycle on your dishwasher if anyone in your household has a cold or the flu. This is a REALLY hot cycle that totally annihilates germs and bacteria.

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  2. sister herb

    sister herb Official TTI Chef

    Nov 7, 2006
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    Always serve food on clean platters:
    Now, you are probably thinking - "I know that! Why is she saying that to me?" But think? Have you every taken raw meat to the barbecue on a plate and then put the cooked meat back on the same plate to serve? Don't do this unless you have washed the dish in between. Raw meat has bacteria that will spread to the cooked meat.

    Keep hot food hot and cold foods cold:

    Hot Foods
    - 140 degrees F. and above (60 C)
    Cold Foods - 40 degrees F. or below (4 C)

    The temperatures between those degrees (140 F/60 C to 40 F/4 C) is the optimal for living and increasing to the bacterials!

    If you have hot food/foods in the oven, put an accurate cooking or meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat or center of your casserole. Adjust the oven temperature so that the food stays at an internal temperature of 140 degrees F (60 C). or above. An oven temperature of 200 to 250 degrees F. should be sufficient to hold the food. Cover the dishes or wrap with aluminum foil to prevent dryness.

    Do not leave food at room temperature longer than 2 hours (1 hour when summer room temperatures are hot).

    Thaw foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Also make sure that meat juices can't drip onto other foods.
    To store hot foods, refrigerate immediately in shallow containers to cool them more quickly.

    Prevent Food Poisoning - When in doubt, throw it out!
    Put food away as soon as you are done with it. Be sure to discard any food that has an off-color or order, or food that has warmed to room temperature for an unknown period of time.

    If you have any question in your mind about the freshness or safety of eating a food product, throw it out. Don't guess; just don't eat something that you're not sure about. It is better to be safe than sorry!

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