The summer time brings into attention the question of foodborne pathogens. However terrifying they may seem, food poison can be avoided if a couple of precaution measures are taken.
Foodborne pathogens are more frequent in the summer and in environments that are close to water.
A recent example is a Michigan graduation party that resulted in six people getting food poisoning because of an altered ingredient in the catered food.
As a general rule, perishable food has to be kept out of the dangerous zone, which is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Not complying with the recommended temperature may lead to an increase in the number of bacteria. In just 20 minutes, the bacteria could double.
The advice is never to leave food out of the fridge for more than two hours, or even one hour if the outside temperature is over 90 degrees.
There is a difference between the food served cold and hot. The cold products should be kept in a refrigerator or an ice container, making sure the temperature is under the limit of 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
The food served hot should be kept in insulated containers, warming trays, or heated dishes, at temperatures of over 140 degrees. In case the food needs to be reheated, it should reach 165 degrees.
People should also be careful when cooking outside. Wet towelettes and clean cloths should be used to make sure that everything is kept as sanitized as possible.
Food should be returned to the fridge in maximum one hour. In case a person does not know how long a product was left outside, the food should be thrown out.
The large amounts of food should be divided into smaller pieces to make sure it will cool faster. Moreover, a thermometer should be placed inside the fridge to make sure that the temperature remains under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another method to protect from foodborne pathogens is to pack drinks in a separate cooler so not to open the food container too often.
A thermometer can also be used to verify the temperature inside meat, poultry, or seafood, in order to see if it was cooked correctly.
Meat should be marinated inside the fridge, and not on the kitchen table. In case the marinade needs to be further used, the food experts recommend boiling it first.
Leftovers must also be immediately deposited in the fridge, inside shallow containers that would permit quick cooling.
The United States Department of Agriculture has launched a new app with information concerning food storage that would help a person to set timelines for the food stored in refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, and to receive notifications on the date that signals the limit of the recommended storage period.
USDA wants to prevent people from being affected by foodborne pathogens and to avoid food waste, as more than 21% of the available food in the US remains unconsumed.
Image Source: Wikipedia
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