I’ve always felt like some foodies are way too protective when it comes to food safety. I subscribed to the theory that a few germs help build immunities.
I remember back in the olden days, my grandmother used to leave a pot of stock on the back burner for days as she added bits of this and that to make vegetable soup. She lived to the ripe old age of 93.
As a new bride, I would often leave a package of chicken to thaw on the counter. I would come home eight hours later and cook it up. Somehow we survived.
While I’m on the subject, please ignore my suggestion that you bypass a flu shot and just put an onion by your bed (posted yesterday). My neighbor, who is a poultry expert, said the information was seriously flawed since the story about a chemist examining an onion filled with viruses was not possible because there were no microscopes in those days and viruses had yet to be discovered.
To make up for my lapse in checking facts, here is the latest information on food safety worth heeding:
Poultry and meat: Raw poultry and meat, including skinless chicken breast and turkey and lean cuts of pork and beef, can harbor dangerous bacteria that may cause serious illness or even death if not handled properly. Always use a dedicated cutting board to prepare raw meat and thoroughly wash all surfaces and utensils that have come into contact with the meat. In addition, make sure you carefully wash your hands before touching any other foods, utensils, or surfaces.
Eggs: Raw eggs have been associated with salmonella poisoning on and off over the years. Salmonella may be found on the outside of the eggshell before the egg is washed or it may be found inside the egg if the hen was infected. However, eggs contain natural antimicrobial substances in the egg white, and all eggs are washed and sanitized before they are packed. Factors that contribute to disease outbreaks are inadequate refrigeration, improper handling, and insufficient cooking (salmonella is destroyed by heat). Egg recipes properly prepared and promptly eaten are rarely a problem. Remember to always keep your eggs refrigerated and make sure you use them immediately after cracking.
Fruits and vegetables: The surfaces of some fruits and veggies may be contaminated with bacteria or coated with pesticides. Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before eating. This goes for the inedible skins of fruits and veggies, like cantaloupe and avocados. Also, keep fruits and veggies separated in the fridge from raw meats, seafood, and eggs. Cooking vegetables at 160°F will kill E. coli bacteria, but washing, even in warm water, may not be enough to eliminate all the bacteria that may become embedded in plant tissues when stalks or leaves are broken. If you hear that produce has been contaminated (as bagged spinach was at one time), it’s better to stop eating it for a while until the issue is resolved.
Seafood: Always look for freshness when choosing seafood. In some cases, when the catch has been left out in the sun too long or the fish haven’t been transported under the proper refrigeration, toxins known as scombrotoxin, or histamine, can develop. When it comes to purchasing fresh fish, make sure it doesn’t smell overly fishy or sour. Fresh fillets should have a shiny flesh — steer clear of fillets that look dry or dull. Keep fresh fish refrigerated for up to two days, or freeze it if you can’t cook it within that time. If you’re buying frozen fish, make sure the package isn’t torn and that there are no signs of frost or ice crystals, which could indicate that the fish was thawed and refrozen. Be sure to thoroughly clean all surfaces and utensils after preparation.