Friday, March 28, 2008

Food Safety And You

Just for the heck of it, I wanted to post a little something about food safety for your reading pleasure (or displeasure).

First some statistics gleaned from wikipedia.

In the United States, there are approximately 76 million foodborne illnesses annually.
325,000 are hospitalized.
5,000 people die.
Major pathogens from food borne illness in the United States cost upwards of US $35 billion dollars in medical costs and lost productivity.

Most of these cases it is believed come not from restaurant food, but from home cooked meals. That last bit was quoted from Alton Brown not from wikipedia.

If I were to break that down by state that is 100 deaths per state annually on average. Obviously some states are more populated than others, but I am making a point. That equates to 100 deaths per year per state on average. I have 102 counties in my state so that pretty much equates to 1 death per county annually from foodborne illness.

If I do the same math with the number of hospitilized people, it equates to about 64 people per county.

OK, enough of my rant and the importance of food safety. If that doesn't get you to realise the importance then nothing will.

I am going to go over a few basics and rest assured this is not a complete list of food safety rules and regs by any means. The best thing you can do if wanting to SELL food is contact your local health department and sign up for a class. This is just some basic stuff for the home owner to provide a relatively safe food invironment for their family.

First thing to cover is the danger zone. The danger zone is temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees F. Cold foods need to be stored below 40 while hot foods need to be held above 140.

Meat needs to be cooked to a proper INTERNAL temperature. Not the outside surface, but a reading from the center of the object in question. A basic chart is as follows, but there are still degrees of variance from state to state on what some of these should be.
Fish 140
Whole pork 150
Ground beef 155
Ground pork 160
Poultry, game birds, stuffed meats 165
Ground turkey 170

About that holding over 140. If you are reheating an item it needs to be reheated to 165 and THEN held over 140.

Proper cooling is important as well. You need to get that temperature from 140 down to 70 within 2 hours and the rest of the way to below forty in another 4 hours.

Proper hand washing is a must. A good scrubbing with hot soapy water for 20 seconds while paying attention to areas between the fingers and around the finger nails. It also helps if you have a faucet that you can turn of with your elbow because, guess what? If you washed your hands and then turned the faucet off with those same hands you just contaminated them.

Disposable gloves go a long with with sanitation as well as ease of cleanup. I recommend them for every home kitchen.

Have a sponge in the sink? Throw it out! Get something that can be sanitized or use disposable items for cleaning. That sponge is full of cooties. The university of Arizona researchers tested household sponges that were being used in homes around the country and found that about two thirds of them contained salmonella, E. Colli, stapholycoccus AND other bacteria that can make a person extremely ill. Notice the word AND, and not the word OR. Go throw it away now. Seriously, stop reading and go throw it away. I'll wait for you to come back.

......................................................OK, now don't you feel better about throwing that nasty sponge away?

A spray bottle with a mixture of 1/4 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water is another execellent tool. Label it as sanitizer and use it all the time. One more thing that is important to mention here. It is fairly easy to poison someone by over contaminating them with sanitizer. Higher concentrations do not equate to better in this case.

Well those are some bare basics, but in my mind the two most important things about food safety is proper temperatures and cleanliness. To find out more I am sure there is a ton of on line infromation as well as from your county health department.

Oh, one last thing. You know that 5 second rule thing about dropping food on the floor or the ground and it being safe for 5 seconds? Forget it. Throw it away unless you JUST bleached the floor.


Anonymous said...

Good article, Son, Dad

Robyn said...

People should read this.