Source: Partly Adapted from:
Bottom Line’s Breakthroughs in Health and Healing
Robert B. Gravani, PhD, CFS, is professor emeritus of food science at Cornell University, Ithica, New York. He is past president of the Institute of Food Technologists.
Fact Checked by Sally Feltner, PhD, MS, Publisher Food Facts and Fads
How can food make us sick? Food-borne illness is any illness that is related to the consumption of food or contaminants or toxins in food. The harm caused by contaminants in the food supply can occur where it is grown or produced, during processing, storage, or even in the home kitchen. The harm caused depends on the type of toxin, the dose, the length of time over which it is consumed, and the size and health status of the consumer. The more we know about how to prevent these illnesses, the better and food safety becomes imperative and even life-saving.
You may have become familiar with the following rules of food safety. For example: True or False?
Freezing causes most bacteria to cease multiplying, but does not kill them.
Smell is not a foolproof indicator of contamination. Bacteria that most commonly cause food-borne illnesses may not change the smell, taste, or appearance of foods.
Both of these statements are true. However, there may be other food safety practices to follow that are not as familiar for self protection.
- Melons and other fruits with thick skin (cantaloupe, mango, papaya and avocado. The risk for illness may occur as you cut into the fruit that can transfer the bacteria from the skin to the flesh. There have been several outbreaks blamed on cantaloupe. What to do? Wash fruits using water and a brush to get at nooks and crannies – soap is not necessary.
- Raw flour – who likes cookie dough or cake batter off the spoon? “Recently, there were dozens of the people in the U.S. that became ill by eating raw dough from flour contaminated with the E. coli bacterium. About 10 million pounds of flour were recalled because of these outbreaks.
3 .”Cooked packaged Meat A GENERAL RULE – TOSS ANYTHING THAT REMAINS FIVE DAYS AFTER YOU OPENED THE PACKAGE. For unopened packages, use the “Best Buy” date as a rule of thumb of when to toss.
Note: A bacteria called Listeria is particularly dangerous for any one with a compromised immune system (diabetes or cancer) or pregnant women. To be extra careful, heat deli meats and smoked food until they are steaming. Listeria is a troublesome bacteria in that it can grow on equipment in the kitchen and at refrigerator temps. Keep your fridge at less than 40 degrees F,
For rare or even medium-rare hamburgers a reliable meat thermometer should register greater than 160 degrees F. Also avoid burgers that appear pinkish – they are not fully cooked. Ground Meats especially should be cooked until there is no red seen and the juices run clear.
4.”Bagged Salad Greens have been the cause of many outbreaks – especially romaine lettuce for some reason? It is best to buy the whole head of lettuce and rinse thoroughly. No need for soap, but dry and refrigerate.”
Organic may make no difference. Look for brands that claim that it is harvested by “hands-free cultivation and appears to be locally grown. This may be the best – however, sometimes contamination occurs in the field that has been invaded by animals (prone to carry E. coli). Sprouts of any kind should not be eaten raw. If you see some on your salad or sandwich, politely discard them.