Tuesday, June 22, 2010


It is rarely that consumers think that the foods they consume can be dangerous if not properly taken care of during handling or storage though these foods are self cooked with great care and caution. Every day foods may not pose much of a problem because of least time elapsing between preparation and cold storage. While uncovered food preparations can attract dust, insects and other vectors, and air borne microbes, many foods at ambient temperature and humidity conditions undergo chemical and physical changes which may not be desirable. The guidelines for keeping every day food preparations safe from the dangers of contamination are simple enough to follow by the house wives and food workers and making them a part of the daily chores can be quiet reassuring.

'Outdoor barbeques and picnics are traditional summer time activities and it's important to keep foods safe by following the food safety practices of Keep Food Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. Following these rules will help reduce your family's risk of foodborne illness. When packing coolers for on-the-go food, pack just before you hit the road. Meat and poultry could be packed frozen so it will stay cold longer. Pack your cooler so that the foods you will use first are on top. Pack with lots of ice and/or freezer packs to ensure a constant cold temperature. A full cooler will maintain a cold temperature longer than a partially filled one. Keep the cooler out of direct sunlight and avoid opening the lid too often. It's best to pack drinks in a separate cooler since the beverage cooler is often opened more frequently. Pack perishable foods in the smallest quantity needed. In hot weather (above 90 F) food should never sit out for more than 1 hour. Generally, any food left out more than 2 hours should be discarded and 1 hour under extreme heat. Fruits and vegetables that have not been refrigerated within 2 hours of cutting, peeling or cooking should be thrown out. When grilling meat and poultry, always use a separate, clean plate for taking food off the grill".

Probably some of the steps recommended may appear silly but it is indisputable that they are based on sound principles of food science. Though the guidelines are for handling foods during out door travels, they are equally relevant to every day cooking practices. There is also a mistaken impression amongst many house wives that once the food is shoved into a frig it can be safe indefinitely but even at low temperatures food is vulnerable to spoilage after some time. Each food has a definitive life from the sensory as well as safety angles and this scientific truth must be accepted for evolving sound storage practices. Generally factors such as moisture, salt, acid and sugar present in a food determine its preservability and these must be kept in mind while storing foods at home. Besides the dry products like flours stored under ambient conditions are easy prey to insects and pests after a couple of weeks unless pre-fumigated by the suppliers and infested foods, even if no visible signs are evident, can also pose safety problems. Thus foods purchased and consumed with least time lapse can be the safest ones while adequate precaution at home can extend their usability by a few days.


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