Food safety is another important point once shopping is done; the question is how to store and handle food safely in order to prevent food poisoning.
All products that require refrigeration have to be kept cold and should be brought home to be stored in the refrigerator at 4 degrees celsius. In warmer weather this may involve carrying a cold pack and an insulated bag. This is not exaggerating safety: the critical time limit is 2 hours. Once this is exceeded, bacterial growth and consequently spoilage is the result. Keeping a package of deli meats in a warm car during a day long shopping trip translates very quickly into food-borne illness for those eating the meat (food poisoning). Bacteria and bacteria toxin are odourless and cannot be tasted, yet they can be extremely dangerous.
Deep frozen foods have to be brought home and stored in the freezer at -18 °C (= 0°F).Previously frozen or defrosted items cannot be refrozen!
In the food preparation area be meticulous about cleaning and sanitizing cutting areas that have been in contact with meat. Wooden cutting boards are inferior to glass cutting surfaces which can be cleaned a lot more effectively with bleach and water.
All meats have to be cooked that they are no longer pink, and special care has to be taken with ground meats. Once meat has been cooked, it has to be kept hot till consumption, or if it was prepared ahead of time, it must be cooled down quickly and refrigerated. Never leave perishable foods like meat, eggs, cheese, or cooked meals at room temperature!Bacteria love room temperature, will multiply rapidly and serious food-borne illness can be a consequence. Hamburger disease is not just an inconvenience with frequent bathroom visits. It can kill. The same goes for preparations containing egg, like mayonaise , egg salad sandwiches,salads with mayo-based dressings,or desserts made with egg whites. Keep them cold! It is no joke to get sick after a picnic: the culprit would be most likely the bacterium salmonella. Given a chance to multiply, it also can land you in hospital.
At this point it is important to realize that vegetables that have residues of earth can enter soil in food, which is hazardous as well, as it can lead to botulism, a highly dangerous form of food-borne illness. Never infuse garlic in oil and let it sit around at room temperature on your kitchen counter, as this can be a culture medium for botulism spores! Keep it refrigerated and discard it after one week.
Finally there are a few simple rules to prevent trouble:
A few basic food safety rules
1. Keep hot foods hot (65°C, which is 150°F, or over)
2. Keep cold foods cold (fridge temperature of 4°C or 40°F).
3. Clean and sanitize the surfaces where food is cut and prepared.
4. Observe good personal hygiene when you work with food (Wash your hands!)
If you want to gain more insight into safe food handling, enrol in a Food Safe Course, which is very likely offered in your community under continuing education.
Food is not only there to sustain us. It is just as important that it satisfies all our senses.
It can be a source of pleasure and creativity and allows us to explore foods of other nations. Coming back to Hippocrates, food can be like a powerful prescription medicine and can make the difference between feeling energetic and vital or feeling sluggish and blue. It can be nutritional disaster or a foundation for well being and top performance.
The choice is up to us. Happy balanced cooking and eating!
1. B. Sears: “The age-free zone”.Regan Books, Harper Collins, 2000. Also see Dr. Sears’ site.
2. B. Sears: “Zone perfect meals in minutes”. Regan Books, Harper Also see Dr. Sears’ site.
3. B.J. Wilcox, D.C. Willcox and M. Suzuki: “The Okinawa Program.” Clarkson Potter,2001, N.Y., U.S.A.
4. E.L. Rossi: The psychobiology of mind-body healing. Norton &Co., 1986, N.Y., U.S.A.
5. Vitamins and Foods. Audio-Digest Family Practice Vol 49, Issue 29, Aug.7, 2001.
6. P.C. McGraw: Life strategies. 1999, Simon&Schuster Source, N.Y., U.S.A.
7. B. Sears: “The top 100 zone foods”. Regan Books, Harper Collins, 2001. Also see Dr. Sears’ site.