Saturday, September 17, 2011 Food Safety at Home

By now you've probably heard people are dying from cantaloupe. I feel just awful for the poor farmers who have been growing cantaloupes for generations. And, of course, I feel bad for those sickened and the families of those who've died. But one must wonder if a little common sense scrubbing would have prevented the illness from occurring. To be honest, I don't know - I'm just asking the question. In my sanitation class we learned about these things, but the average American probably has little knowledge of food safety. Way to go school system - who else can you blame?

But let's not play the blame game for now - let's get some knowledge into your head.

Cantaloupe is a TCS food - Time and Temperature Controlled for Safety. Click the link for the list and information.

Simply put the temperature danger zone is 40-140 (I know the link says 41-135, but 40-140 is easy to remember). TCS food should not be in that zone for more than 4 hours over the course if its life - and I'm gonna cut that number in half and declare two hours is enough.

This means you don't cut up lettuce and tomatoes for your grill party and let them sit out until your guests arrive. Same goes for melon - slice it up, cover it with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge until you're going to serve it. This may mean preparing smaller plates of it so you can refresh the supply - NEVER mix the old with the new because cross-contamination can occur.

ALWAYS wash the outside of the melon before you cut it. As it is produce should be washed with water that is slightly warmer than the produce itself (this from the Federal Government) but melons are grown on the ground, so get that sponge out and scrub that baby with hot soapy water. You don't want to contaminate the flesh with the knife - seeing as how it just sliced through the rind. Get it?

Wash everything, of course. Who knows what bird flew overhead and pooped on your produce, better to be safe than sorry.

I'll leave you with one more bit of information - I don't want you to overload - and I promise to continue on this topic. I don't want any of my peeps dying from food poisoning.

Garlic is grown in the ground, where all sorts of pathogens like to live, like botulism - never take garlic and throw it in a bottle with some oil and give it out as presents. Commercial garlic oil is treated with an enzyme that prevents the bacteria from growing - homemade obviously is not. Don't risk it. If you want to do it for yourself that may be okay, but use it within a week and keep it in the fridge. And, to be honest, I may not even risk the week. Food poisoning is serious business - go with the commercially bottled oil.

Stay tuned for more. If you have any specific questions leave me a comment and I will get you an answer!



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