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Food Safety Is Not Going Away

April 7, 2015
Remember that greens and veggies, as well as chicken, can carry pathogens.

Remember that greens and veggies, as well as chicken, can carry pathogens.

Food safety is no joke. It’s not a joke to those who get sick, it’s not a joke to those trying to prevent consumers getting sick, from production to plate. Farmers, processors and the government inspections do not come into your home kitchen, the last stop to consumption. Can we do better? Some say yes.

Some say emphatically yes! Recently Ms. Christine Bruhn made some comments to – some may dismiss this as a “big food” thing. Don’t. For the safety of your family, your kids, those joining you for dinner, don’t dismiss that last link. This is not, as some think, a blame the consumer thing. This is a reality that food is not sterile, and keep the consumer from getting sick is good for everyone thing.

Many can tell who won last season’s Dancing With the Stars or what the latest box office movie is, or the latest from the Kardashian gossip, but miss on what’s in their own home.

What we consistently found is people have heard of salmonella, they know chicken is one of the sources of salmonella, and they know salmonella can make you really sick. And some say they have had salmonella. But seldom do they believe it is what happens at home. They believe it happens at a restaurant or at someone else’s house, but not at their house. There is a time delay. People generally believe what they ate in the last day or so is what made them sick. Salmonella takes more time. It’s not just what you ate yesterday, but what you ate three or four days ago. With some pathogens, such as listeria, it can take more than a month to manifest. – Christine Bruhn, director of the Center for Consumer Research, Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis

These pathogens are everywhere. They’re on bulk food and organic food alike. After all, in a strict sense, they are naturally occurring and organic. That doesn’t mean that it’s something we want on our plate! Proper cooking, proper handling, proper serving is important.

Undercooking is a larger problem than I had realized. We stuck the thermometer in and found 40 percent of our participants undercooked their chicken. It looks white and they think it is done.

Fifty-two percent of the people who barbecued or grilled their chicken were below 165 (degrees Fahrenheit). And the average was 18 degrees below. Even people who were frying or stir frying, 41 percent was undercooked, and it was undercooked by 14 degrees.

Even people using thermometers to verify doneness were undercooking. They are using dial thermometers, and some are as much as 40 degrees off. They did not realize that the thermometer needs to be calibrated. The recommended practice is you fill up a cup with ice and water. It should read 32 degrees Fahrenheit. There is a knob, and you use pliers and twist. You have to do that periodically. – Christine Bruhn

Many of these little things used to be taught in high school home economics classes. Times change, and such things are no longer considered important, until it affects your home. It should be much more important than celebrities and reality television!

Thanksgiving_ChickenThe good news is it’s not too late. If you’ve never had a home ec class, start ‘homeschooling’ and learning now! Proper kitchen habits can be learned! If you’re not sure, take a refresher and learn about safe kitchen habits. It’s too important of an issue to put off, and unlike that passing interest, it will affect you every day.

Learn about your food. Learn about preparation. Practice. Good nutrition, healthy food and safe habits don’t happen by accident, but food safety problems sure do.

Recently at a meeting of farmers market members, the point was made that while many are tired of talking about food safety, food safety is an issue that is not going away. We strive to do better, and need consumers to keep up!

Pssst. Guys…grill commandos…weekend warriors…make sure your skills are tip top before grilling season gets in full swing!

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