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asian-1239272_1920Food makes the holidays more festive. At this time of year you enjoy family dinners, church potlucks, office parties, buffet lunches, cookie exchanges, and cups of cheer. Gifts are exchanged, too, and food poisoning is the “gift” you don’t want.

Though it’s relatively rare in the US, food poisoning can happen to anyone, according to MedlinePlus. That doesn’t mean much if you’re the one who gets it. You may get food poisoning at home or while traveling. Each year 60-80 million (that’s MILLION) people around the globe get food poisoning.

If you’ve had food poisoning you know it’s awful, so awful you thought you were going to die. Some people do die. The FDA says food poisoning is especially threatening to kids five years old and younger, and the elderly. E.coli can cause hemolyptic uremic syndrome, which can lead to kidney damage and, in some cases, death.

The symptoms of food poisoning are nasty: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, headaches, and weakness. Food poisoning strikes within two-to-four hours after eating contaminated food and it can last as long as 10 days. Prevetion is the best defense against food poisoning.

Mayo Clinic, in an Internet article called “Serve it Up Safe: 8 Ways to Prevent Food-Bourne Illness,” lists some prevention tips, such as washing linens often and washing equipment, including your meat thermometer, in hot, soapy water. To be in the safe side, the article says you should reheat leftovers to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Practice safe food handling during the holidays. Unsure about what to do? The USDA Food and Safety Inspection Service has published a colorful booklet called “Cooking for Groups.” You’ll find the booklet on www.FoodSafety.gov. You’ll find additional information on www.fightingbac.org. And follow these tips to keep your tummy safe during the holidays.

AT HOME

1. Wash your hands well before handling food.

2. Use paper or cloth dishcloths, not sponges.

4. Separate raw foods from ready-to-eat foods.

5. Store washed produce in a different container, not the original.

6. Keep cold foods at 40 degrees or less.

7. Keep hot foods at 140 degrees or more.

8. Double-bag leaking meat and poultry packages or seal them in plastic wrap.

9. Thaw meat and poultry in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

10. NEVER eat frozen meat, poultry or fish that has been thawed and refrozen.

11. Check internal temperature of meat and poultry with a thermometer.

12. Use a clean spoon every time you taste food.

13. Clear leftover food quickly and refrigerate.

AT WORK

1. Ask a knowledgable person to be in charge.

2. Refrigerate donated food immediately.

3. Wash hands before handling food. (Buy several bottles of hand sanitizer.)

4. Label foods so people know what they’re eating.

5. Tell people if food contains nuts or soy.

6. Serve food in small batches, not all at once.

7. Keep mayonnaise-based foods icy cold.

8. Keep hot foods really hot.

9. Don’t leave food out for more than two hours.

10. Provide clean storage containers for leftovers. Write the food and date on all containers.

11. Discard food that hasn’t been refrigerated for more than four hours.

AT A RESTAURANT

1. Check to see if food handlers are wearing plastic gloves.

2. Find out if the food handlers are handling money. (Money is often contaiminaed with human feces.)

3. Is there a cough shield over the food table?

4. Skip the salad bar if the ingredients aren’t on ice.

5. Check to see if the restaurant has a clean plate policy for additional servings of salad.

6. Don’t eat salad dressing that’s in open bowls on the table.

7. Make sure hot food is kept in warming pans, kettles, and hot plates.

8. Each dish should have its own serving spoon or fork.

9. Servers should bring buffet foods out in small batches.

10. Does the menu say all beef will be cooked to medium temperature?

11. Hamburgers should be cooked until the internal temperature is 160 degrees.

12. Write the food and date on your doggie bag/box.

“Everyone is at risk for foodbourne illness,” according to the FDA’s Food Safety Education Website. That makes food safety your business. Call the local public health department if you see unsafe food practices. And follow the FDA’s advice during the holidays: When in doubt throw it out!

Copyright 2005 by Harriet Hodgson. To learn more about her work go to http://www.harriethodgson.com/.

Harriet Hodgson has been a nonfiction writer for 27 years and is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Before she became a health writer she was a food writer for the former “Rochester Magazine,” in her hometown of Rochester, MN. Her 24th book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief,” written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from http://www.amazon.com. A five-star review of the book is also posted on Amazon. The book is packed with Healing Steps – 114 in all – that lead readers to their own healing path.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Harriet_Hodgson

Food poisoning is something that is becoming more and more commonplace. Sadly, we are seeing more and more news items about salmonella, staphylococcus and similar harmful bacteria, and the havoc they can cause.

To say that encountering this complaint would spoil your whole day would be a gross understatement. In fact you’re likely to spend several days recovering from it. In extreme cases it can be fatal.

So is there any way to make sure you never succumb to food poisoning? Well, there may be no infallible approach, but you can certainly act in such a way that your chances of becoming a victim are drastically reduced.

Personal hygiene is a good starting point. This question is perhaps a trifle taboo, but I’m going to ask it anyway – do YOU wash your hands after going to the toilet? If you don’t, you will after reading this. This is to me the most basic and essential step in keeping even a reasonable level of personal cleanliness. Yet so many people neglect to do this. To me, that’s just asking for trouble sooner or later, and is in any event a betrayal of everyone else you come into contact with.

Who do you think really wants to share with you the myriad of germs and microbes that you have on your hands immediately after attending to the bodily functions that we all have to attend to several times a day? And you will share them with everyone who touches almost anything fairly soon after you’ve touched it, or with whom you shake hands. It’s the reason why most PC keyboards are as rife with germs as a toilet seat.

I still see people coming out of public lavatories without so much as a glance at the wash basins. Yet they’ve been in a place rife with both air borne and surface bound germs and microbes. The very smell of them broadcasts their nature. Until such people actually DO wash their hands everything they touch will be contaminated with the harmful bacteria and shigella that is without doubt increasing and multiplying on their hands.

For this reason I always wash my hands carefully every time I return home from a trip out, even if I’ve only been to the corner shop. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

If all the doctors and nurses, patients and visitors, hospital workers and porters and everyone else to be found in hospitals simply washed their hands after doing what we all have to do a few times a day, then all the so-called hospital super-bugs, the MRSA and everything else that we spend millions of pounds or dollars trying to fight each year, all of it would simply disappear.

However, don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

Always make a point of washing your hands thoroughly before preparing food. If the ingredients of the meal include meat, fish, fowl or eggs then wash after each time you’ve handled them.

The next point is to never eat raw food that comprises meat, fish, fowl, milk or eggs. Sea food is especially prone to harbour harmful bacteria, so be particularly careful when eating this. Wash all food under the cold tap before cooking or eating.

Above 65.5 or below 4.5. Those are the figures to remember concerning the temperatures in degrees Celsius or Centigrade in which bacteria cannot multiply. That’s why raw food has to be kept chilled until it is ready for cooking, when it should be heated to at least the temperature required to kill bacteria.

To be sure of this, meat should be cooked until there is no more pink left in it, fowl until none of the joints are red and fish should be flaking by the time it’s taken out of the oven.

If using a microwave oven you should use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. Keep meat gravy or juice away from other food. Use separate utensils, chopping board, etc for meat and other animal products on the one hand and everything else on the other. Wash them with bleach or lathered water afterwards. In fact wash the whole kitchen work top area regularly and always after preparing dishes containing animal products. Replace sponges regularly and use paper kitchen towels for wiping down.

Food that’s been left at room temperature for 2 hours or more can be contaminated, especially if it is high in protein, eg meat, eggs, chips.

Be careful when defrosting meat or poultry, as the surface will defreeze more quickly than the inside. Bacteria may therefore be growing on the outside by the time the inside is unfrozen. Defreeze it in the refrigerator to avoid this problem. If keeping anything for another meal, replace it in the refrigerator immediately. And never keep meat or poultry, or fish, above vegetables or other kinds of non-meat food in the refrigerator in case anything falls down to cause contamination.

Trust your instincts. If food doesn’t somehow look right then it usually isn’t. A quick test with your nose should detect any tell-tale smell of decay or contamination.

Finally, eat your food slowly, relish it and allow your body and digestive system ample time and optimum conditions for digesting it. Bon appetit!

Philip Gegan is a writer and practitioner of Acupressure. He challenges you to read his advice and NOT be able to press away at least 10 kinds of pain, including headaches, colds, flu, hangovers, asthma, heartburn, and even… acne(!) at… http://www.pressawaypain.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Philip_Gegan

noodles-187050_1920Human beings have always needed packaging in one form or another. Some of the earliest types of packaging are still around today, for example reed baskets. Initially all packaging was made from natural materials, because it had to be.

Woven bags and wooden boxes were among the first. As more materials were developed and processed they too became of use as packaging.

During the 19th century, and as a result of the industrial revolution, packaging became far more advanced. Tin cans and the first cardboard boxes emerged. Later still, in the early 20th century, plastics and aluminium were incorporated into packaging, around the same time we were becoming more and more aware of food safety and food hygiene.

We have made huge advances in both packaging and food safety.

Today packaging is a highly scientific field, it also requires technological and artistic understanding, as well as in-depth product knowledge. There are hundreds of high profile careers within the industry, including ‘Packaging Engineering’. Subjects studied for this qualification are varied, basic engineering, basic science, and business, food safety, recycling, even robotics! It is an industry that is always advancing.

Some functions of packaging;

Containment of product
Protection of product (physically and hygienically)
Product control- e.g. tamper evident opening
Product information
Marketing and branding of product/retailer
Provides controlled sized portions/amounts of product

As our global awareness of the environment increases, our priorities and requirements of what packaging should be changes. A now commonly used phrase – ‘Reduce, Re-use, Recycle’ is of great importance where packaging is concerned. Sustainable packaging is an area in which experts are particularly keen to develop.

Packaging has become more than just a means of easily transporting or containing products and is currently categorised into packaging types;

Primary – usually in direct contact with product e.g. brown kraft paper bags
Secondary- contains primary packaging and product, e.g. a multi-pack of crisp packets
Tertiary- involves warehouse storage and transport of bulk products, e.g. pallets

Within these types of packaging are more type-specific fields, e.g. drugs or food.

Food packaging is a specialist subject within the packaging industry, and works closely with the U.K’s governing body for all food legislation and safety, ‘The UK Food Standards Agency’. Food safety entails scientifically researched rulings on all aspects of food to prevent food borne illnesses.

We all expect there to be specific rules and guidelines in place for Dental Surgery Assistants, or Hospital Nurses to prevent illness or disease through the spreading of bacteria and viruses, but would you expect such rules to be in place for food? Well they are!

The UK Food Standards Agency provides the food industry and the general public with well researched, easy to access information regarding food and food safety, it also enforces laws on, for example, required standards on food packaging materials.

A great deal of scientific research is undertaken to ensure all materials which contact food at any stage of its handling is safe, from food containers, to the ink used in food product labelling. It is their responsibility to ensure the public is kept safe from harmful chemicals through related materials. There are specific rules in place for specific materials, plastics, for example have a whole list of laws for themselves.

On the UK Food Standards Agency website there are notes on ‘Guidance on the Plastic Materials and Articles in Contact with Food (England) Regulations 2009, available for associated businesses to read. It also provides information on which legal body represents particular materials, so you know who you are legally required to obey.

In 2004 a new European Regulation was introduced regarding food contact materials, and the UK Food Standards Agency was responsible for representing our countries interests. Their primary goal was ensuring UK citizens are still kept safe from risk of harmful chemicals in food contact materials when on holiday in Europe. This is also available to read on their website.

The development, research, and governance of food packaging both for supermarket food and for home-prepared food is vital not only for our convenience, but also for our safety. The next time you put your sandwiches into ‘food safe polythene bags’ or your children come home with sweets in’ candy stripe paper bags’ think how many experts have made it safe enough for us all to use.

Many thanks to the team at http://www.onlinepackagingshop.co.uk for helping with the article. When it comes to retail packaging supplies, all you need to do is visit them.

Let the click of the mouse steer you to the best place to buy Food Safe Packaging on the Internet. They have got your food safe packaging needs covered.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Christian_Schulze

child-818432_1920By: Mila Sidman
So your baby is ready for solids! It’s always exciting when your baby reaches a new milestone, but when it comes to feeding babies it’s safe to say most parents are a little nervous. If you’re planning on making your own homemade baby food, here are a few simple tips.

First of all, relax… making baby food is simple. You don’t need many ingredients, special equipment (except a blender or food processor) or much time.

Apart from saving you money, making your own baby food provides fantastic nutrition for your little one and gives you peace of mind. After all you know exactly what’s gone into your baby’s food, how it was prepared and the quality of ingredients used.

Most pediatricians advice babies should be be between 4 and 6 months before starting solids. Rice cereal is usually the first food of choice as it doesn’t contain wheat (which can be harder for babies to digest) and most babies can easily tolerate it.
If you’re not sure if your baby is ready for solids always ask your pediatrician first.

It’s always best to introduce one new food at a time just in case your baby has an allergic reaction to a certain food. This will make it easier to pinpoint which foods caused it.

Here’s an easy step-by-step guide to making baby food.

Hygiene:

There’s no need to sterilize feeding equipment as you would baby bottles and teats, but you should wash everything you’ll be using in hot soapy water before starting. It’s also smart to wipe down the counter top and work area before starting.

As with regular cooking, it’s important to use a separate chopping board for meat to avoid cross contamination. And do not let raw food come into contact with cooked food.

Always thaw frozen baby food in the refrigerator. Thawing the food at room temperature may breed bacteria which can cause illness.

Equipment:

A food processor, blender or hand-held blender is ideal for a very smooth consistency. Once your baby is used to solids you can simply mash the food with a fork.

Preferably your baby should sit in a high chair or other upright child safety seat. Baby should be upright at all times to help food digestion and avoid choking.

To feed baby a few simple plastic bowls and spoons without rough edges will do. And don’t forget to get a few packs of baby bibs and have plenty of cleaning cloths handy!

Preparation:

Scrub and peel fruits and vegetables well.

Remove all fat, skin, and bones from fresh meat. Always check to make sure the meat is fresh. If you have any doubts as to the freshness of the meat, it’s best not to use it as it’s just not worth your baby getting sick.

Use only a small amount of water when cooking to avoid loosing valuable nutrients. Many vegetables can be steamed to preserve nutrients.

Never add any seasonings, salt, sugar, or other sweeteners. This will make the food too strong for your baby’s taste buds and can actually make him ill.

Transfer cooked food to a food processor and process until smooth (adding a little of the cooking water if necessary) or use a hand-held blender.

For a thicker consistency, simply mash the food using a fork. You can always add a little breast milk or formula to make it smoother.

* Medical literature advices egg whites, strawberries, honey and peanut products should be avoided until 12 months of age as they have been known to cause allergies in young children.

Storage:

As baby’s only eat a small amount of food, freezing is ideal for baby food. There are several ways you can do this.

One of the easiest ways is to fill up an ice cube tray with any unused baby food (do not save any leftover food from your baby’s bowl or that has been contaminated by your baby’s saliva). Once the food is frozen immediately transfer to individual plastic bags. Depending on how much your baby eats, place a few cubes of baby food in each bag. Don’t forget to label and date it.

Advice varies on how long you should freeze baby food for. Most experts agree frozen baby food should not be kept longer than 3 months. Ideally, try not to keep the food longer than one month as it may loose some of its nutritional content as time passes. Remember your baby doesn’t eat very much at first so make smaller batches.

You can also place small amounts of food in individual plastic containers with lids, and stick labelling tape to the top of the lid.

Reheating:

Easily reheat frozen food by placing it in a heat-proof bowl. Place the bowl in or over a pan of simmering water. Gently reheat while stirring occasionally.

You can also reheat the food in the microwave. This will save you time, but be extra careful as the food will be hotter in some places more than others. Always stir the food and taste it before serving to make sure it’s not too hot. Always, let the food sit for a minute or two before serving to baby. Stir again just before serving.

Always thaw frozen baby food in the refrigerator. Do not thaw baby food at room temperate as it can breed bacteria.

That’s it… a few simple steps to making your own baby food. Homemade baby food will save you money but best of all you’ll be giving your baby the most nutritious foods possible.

For tons of delicious family-friendly recipes, nutrition articles, tips, resources and free recipe newsletter, visit http://www.easy-kid-recipes.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Mila_Sidman

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Seeing your child choking on a piece of hotdog, carrot or anything else for that matter is a very stressful experience for any parent. Here’s a few tip on how to avoid child choking. The subject of food safety also includes how we prepare food for specific groups who may encounter problems swallowing the food correctly if it’s presented to them in the wrong way.

Never feed a child anything that is hard and round always cut into strips lengthwise. Cutting this way will in no way disturb training your child how to chew corectly. This is particularly important if your child was born with a weakness of the jaw muscles or any other type of bucal cavity disorder, tongue disorder or other disorders of the oesophagus, larynx or pyloric stenitis. Some problematic types of food which demand special attention for toddlers include: hotdogs, sausages, carrots, cellery, cucumbers, olives, cheries, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, small beets, small Parisienne potatoes, melon balls, large whole beans, etc. Children may also encounter food which is difficult to swallow such as peanut butter on bread, boiled egg sandwiches and the like, so always have a glass of water on hand to help to wash those pasty dry foods down should the need arise.

Do not feed your children hard candies, boiled sweets, jelly beans, toffee, mentos, gob stoppers, wine gums, chewing gum or any tye of peanut, hazel nut, almond, macademia nut or pistachio until they are at least 7 years old. Prefer fudge, jelly babies, marsh mallows or any other soft and non round sweet.
Do not feed your children buscuits made out of fine corn starch because this can form a glue like mass that can clog the back of the throat. Likewise do not allow your child to eat any fruit with large pips and/or seeds before you take the pip or seed out.

It is also not advisable to feed children any type of fish that may contain bones until they are at least ten years old. All fish products for small children should be ground into a paste.

Common sense is the rule of thumb in preparing food for toddlers. It is not enough to think how to cut food so that it will be small enough to chew, it is also necessary to think of how to cut food so that it will not cause an obstruction of the wind pipe. A responsible attitude and forward thinking work to prevent unnecessary stress for both parent and child and can even prevent what amount to unnecessary tragedies in quite a few cases. Keep food safety in mind when preparing food for your children.

NB. Round objects in a childs mouth can be mistaken for a bolus of food which can cause the mouth’s sensory organs to become confused and to send the object to the throat cavity. By being too large to swallow the epiglottis tries to eject the foreign object from the larynx which leaves the object hovering over the open trachea. The natural instinct to take a deep breath can cause the object in question to be drawn into the wind pipe where it causes an obstruction to air flow. In the following educational film clip you will be shown how to perform safe rescue techniques on children and infants. Every parent should become familiar with these techniques.

traditional-chinese-898567_1920Add to Technorati FavoritesMost people around the world have heard about the medicinal benefits of Chinese herbal remedies. These time tested traditional potions have maintained the one of the worlds largest and indeed greatest cultures for thousands of years. Today, few would dispute the benefits of herbal medicines in the hands of experienced and reputable practitioners.

In the advent of the computer age Chinese traditional medicine has gained a great deal of exposure through the Internet. Now there are a great many companies which sell herbal medicines over the Internet. Herbs, like all other organic substances are susceptible to all sorts of microbial infestations which can greatly compromise the quality of the plant and hence the product which you buy. Herbs infested with moulds, viruses or any of the many types of bacteria can loose most if not all of their beneficial medicinal properties and can even become dangerous to consume.

Herbs which are used in traditional Chinese medicine, like any other other cash crop are grown in fields or collected from the wild, they are then harvested, graded,cut to size,dehydrated, checked by quality control (hopefully), packed, stored in warehouses and finally shipped to the store where you buy them or sent directly to you if you buy via direct marketing routes. As you can see, plants used in traditional medicine go through many handling processes before they become the final product which you but. Every time the plant is handled, something of it’s original integrity and quality is lost. This is inevitable in any industry and each stage presents opportunities for cross contamination if the product is handled improperly. As with any product good manufacturing procedures (GMP) are an absolute necessity. Unfortunately, not all people who market traditional Chinese herbs are reputable manufacturers and great care must be taken in choosing which company to buy from.

Usually, the more high tech the facilities of a factory are, the higher product standards will be. Today, a number of Chinese companies are offering medicinal herbs in freeze dried form The advantages of freeze drying are that the raw materials used have to be of a high standard to ensure a stable end product. Secondly, freeze drying is a great way of preserving as many of the original qualities of the plant as possible. Thirdly, because freeze drying is a very quick process, there is no tome for bacterial or mould spores to form and oxidization is prevented. This means that from a food hygiene standpoint you are safeguarded against such micro organisms forming during usage. Fourthly, Freeze dried products deteriorate at a much slower rate than with other methods that are in use, among other things this means that the anti oxidizing properties of the plant(s) are preserved.

Freeze drying also permits the manufacturer to be very inventive during the manufacturing process. He can make blends that are intended to ensure that you the customer get a guaranteed strength of active ingredient and he can also blend different types of herbs to formulate products to make ready to use infusions for specific medical conditions. In addition, ingredients which make a product more palatable can also be added.

Some of these companies claim to have hundreds of blends in their product range which cover a great many medical requirements. If you intend to use traditional Chinese medicine I would strongly recommend that you investigate the possibilities offered by freeze dried technology.

bee-802592_1920Food safety issues in the honey industry cause global concern. Rapid decline in honey bee populations continues to elude experts.
The world watches in despair as the honey bee industry continues to take huge knocks. In recent weeks vast quantities of honey imported from China to the USA were stopped at US ports after checks showed that the honey contained low to moderate quantities of Chloramphenicol, an antibiotic which is not approved for ingestion.

If this were not enough, another major source of honey was deemed unfit for human consumption. This honey came from Brazil where honey bees pollinate genetically modifies soy bean and genetically modified sweet corn.

Honey is a natural product which has a great many healthy qualities. Enzymes in honey have been proved to be beneficial to the cardio vascular system and other enzymes within honey are thought to have very good properties in the healing of wounded tissue, both internally and externally. Genetically modified honey is accused of unbalancing the action of the enzymes within the honey and it is for this reason that many countries are refusing to permit the import of honey that comes from bees which have been raised on GM crops.

Five hundred million bees died in Germany when crops were sprayed with the wrong insecticide. This is a major financial blow for German agriculture and will be the subject of a public enquiry into the events and decision making processes that led up to the use of the said chemical and into new policy that will be directed at ensuring that pollinating bees will not be harmed in the future.

And still, in spite of all of these regretable instances, the population of bees in the world continues to rapidly decline. The name being given to this phenomenon is colony collapse disorder. I had occasion to interview bee keepers today into their opinion on the decline in honey bee numbers around the world and this was their response. ” In our opinion several factors contribute to the decline in the numbers of bees. One reason that we strongly suspect is the mobile phone technology. Antennas are everywhere and they emit high levels of radiation that cause some sort of disturbance in the way bees react. We have carried out some minor experiments and we know that it takes many bees a lot longer to return to the hive than in previous decades.

In addition we suspect that the usage of slow release insecticides is having a detrimental effect on bees. Slow release chemicals were developed several decades ago to lower the lethal dose (LD grading) of chemicals to lessen the effect of harmful chemicals on humans and to increase the longevity of the chemical’s effect upon the harmful insect population. We suspect that some of these slow release capsules are not becoming active within the advertised time framework and are being brought to the hive on the bodies of the bees. Furthermore we suspect that the environment within the hive contribute into making the potency of these chemicals greater than in open air scenarios.

Other industries cannot be ruled out as not putting stress on the physiology of the bee. The plastics industry, among others, has been pumping chemicals into the environment for decades. The concentrations of these chemicals has been slowly increasing over the years. Bees drink water in the environment where ever it is available. Lets say that bees find a water source that comes from a plastic hose pipe which has been manufactured in one of the Far East countries. It is no secret that plastics that are manufactured in the far east are not as chemically stable as those manufactured in the west but because of lower costs, crop irrigation and garden hoses are now supplied mostly from China and India. We think that the Estrogen mimics that are present in the water which has come into contact with these plastic products is also having an effect on bee populations. These chemicals could be appearing in the water that the bees drink and in the nectar that they collect.”

We can see from this report that bee keepers are very tuned into what is happening in the environment We also see that some of their concerns could well have effect on food safety issues, particularly in areas where GM crops are being grown and concerning the issue of estrogen mimics. However the major concern lies in the decline in bee populations worldwide. Could it be that the humble little bee will present us with the answers on what we need to do to avoid destroying ourselves as a species?

salmonella-549608_1280Today’s post is a story that I heard from a colleague about a vegetable processing plant that became infected with salmonella and e. coli.

Please understand that this is a major international company and it is for this reason that I cannot disclose any names in the content of this article. This particular plant buys vegetables of all sorts directly from large farms and after grading, cleaning and sorting the vegetables are frozen and packed for the consumer and institutional markets.

The company in question works with just two or three trucking companies which bring the raw materials to the plant and deliver shipments of finished product to the local and foreign markets. Good relationships had been established with the trucking companies which included both the haulage companies and the factory itself helping each other out as much as possible as a matter of course. This factory had the best weigh bridge in the area and one of the favors that was performed on an ongoing basis was to weigh trucks of the said three companies even though the payload of the trucks had nothing to do with the business of the factory.

Complaints had been arriving at the factory’s quality control department stating that their products had tested positive for salmonella and e.coli. The factory checked all of their production lines to check that everything was working as it should and indeed no faults were found inside the factory itself.

A decision was taken to bring in an expert in the area of HACCP’s. and indeed it took him a mere five minutes to discover the source of the problem. Many different types of trucks were coming in to be weighed. Among them were trucks hauling the following cargoes: cages for chickens and turkeys being shipped from farms to slaughter houses, deep litter from dairy farms and poultry farms, various types of manure, and soil.

Trucks carrying these loads often waited for quite some time alongside trucks hauling vegetables for the factory itself. Dust and spray that inevitably flew from one truck to another was enough to cause the cross contamination of the vegetables with whatever the other truck was hauling.. This was a very basic and critical flaw in the work procedures and food hygiene standards of this particular factory. This situation was more than enough to cause this food hygiene crisis for this particular factory.

A decision was instantly taken to stop the weighbridge service to all trucks not carrying vegetables specifically for the plant. In this particular case, good intentions led to a very bad result.

red-chilli-powder-289140_1920This is a report pertaining to a serious mistake or food safety misjudgement by a colleague of mine regarding a substance known as Carboxymethyl Cellulose (or CMC for short). CMC is used as a thickening agent in the food industry. It is often used in the soft drink industry, dairy industry and ice cream industry. CMC is insoluble and requires a medium to carry it in suspension until it can be mixed into the liquid product. Such mediums can be sugar syrup or a vegetable oil. It is a problematic ingredient to use that requires a great deal of worker proficiency.

Products that contain Carboxymethyl Cellulose are usually marked with the ingredient code E466. When used correctly this ingredient is considered safe and it is a good source of additional cellulose (fiber).

My friend is a very experienced food technologist and he should have known better than to do what I am about to tell you. During a visit to his doctor he was advised to add more fiber to his diet. No being a great eater of vegetables my friend decided to find a more creative solution to adding fiber to his diet. At first he targeted dietary supplement that are available at any health food store or pharmacy. After a while he decided that these products were too expensive and so he started to look for even more creative solutions to adding fibre to his diet.

Working in the food industry meant that he had access to many types of raw materials. Initially he started to drink industrial grade pectin which he mixed in a little syrup using a blender and once the pectin was suspended in the syrup he then added fruit juice. Seemingly, bit by bit he turned himself into a sort of human guinea pig and decided to become more ambitious in his quest for the ideal fiber to reduce his cholesterol levels.

He decided to experiment with CMC. Starting with quite low proportions he slowly got more ambitious and began to steadily increase the dosage. After not seeing my friend for some time I decided to call his wife to find out what had happened to him. On hearing my voice his wife immediately burst into tears and told me the story about the CMC and went on to tell me that he had developed a very severe intestinal blockage and that the only way to save him was by opening his intestine in several places to extract the lumps of carboxymethyl cellulose that had formed inside his gut.

I decided to tell you this story to emphasize the point of exactly how dangerous it can be to use food ingredients in ways for which they are not intended to be used. My friend, who is actually an expert in food hygiene and food safety fell pray to his own need to medicate himself cheaply. He wagered that his knowledge and experience were enough to take a calculated risk in using industrial grade materials for use on himself in ways which had never been tested. Now he is paying the price for that mistake.

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OK, enough of the serious stuff for a while. Now it’s time for some frivolity in the form of cooking a couple of good chicken recipes. Here’s a two of my favorites. I hope you will like them too.

Remember that in order to keep your chicken bacteria free and to avoid all forms of food contamination please adhere to all the principles frood hygiene essentials stated throughout this blog.

Chicken Fillet Snitzels
This one’s so easy
Ok, Bascially you need to serve about 3-5 pieces per person to really sastisfy the apetite.
So work out how many pieces you need and then flatten the fillets gently between a plastic sheet (I prefer using a rolling pin for this).

Ingredients:
Chicken fillets.
3-4 eggs
1 cup of flour
bread crumbs
salt & pepper
sesame seeds.
Italian Herb mixture (optional).

We have already covered how to prepare the Fillets so I won’t go into that again. Next you will need 3 bowls or plates. In one you put the eggs which you will beat, in another the flour and in the last the bread crumbs, sesame and herbs. Add a little salt and pepper to the flour and to the crumbs.

Take each fillet individually and flour. Ater flouring dip into the egg. Shake off any excess liquid and place into the bread crumbs. Cover the fillet with the crumbs and press lightly. Remove onto a clean and dry tray or plate and repeat the precedure until all the fillets are breaded. If you have a lot of pieces you can divide the layers by using grease proof paper or baking paper.

To avoid the possibility of bacterial growth within the chicken or cross contamination between the eggs and the chicken keep the preparation time as short as possible. Twenty minutes should be ample time for this process and it will help to prevent the the devision of bacteria. Wile you are breading the shnitzels start to heat your oil. The time interval between finishing breading and frying should also be as brief as possible. It you can, serve straight from the frier, if not keep at a temperature of at least 65 degrees celsius until served. Any leftovers should be cooled and refrigerated to avoid bacterial contamination.

Now take a frying pan and add about 1/2cm. of cooking oil. Heat and fry the snitzels on both sides until golden brown. Serve with fries , rice or pasta. Add a little lemon and your favorite dip to the side of the plate. Don’t forget to eat plenty of fresh vegetable salad at least once a day.

Chicket Fillet Fajitas in fried Tortillas
My Personal Recipe
This recipe make a great main course, Brunch or between meal hunger stopper.

For this you will need about 5 fillets per portion.

Other Ingredients:
1 medium tomato (sliced) per 2 portions
1/2 green pepper per 2 portions(sliced)
1/2 medium sized onion per 2 portions(sliced)
Tomato puree
1-2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper
Cumin
Chopped corriander
Corn starch
Cooking oil
Chilli Pepper or sweet chilli pepper sauce.
Tortillas

Equipment:
2 frying pans.

Before you start to fry rub the bottom of the pan with the garlic cloves. Slice the chicken fillets length ways and fry on a deep skillet. Add the onions and work in stir frying carefully for about 1 minute. Add peppers stir frying for about 1 minute also. Now add the tomatoes mixing gently until they begin to show signs of softening. Add salt & black pepper to taste. Put in about 1/2 teaspoon of cumin per 2 portions (reducing by 1/4 teaspoon for each 2 extra portions added). Add the chilli pepper or sweet chilli sauce. Add a little tomato puree to intensify the colour.

Now blend in the chopped corriander adding an ammount according to your own taste preference. Add a little sugar if the mixture needs it. Because you are going to fill the tortillas with the fajitas mixture it needs to be a little firm so mix a teaspoon of corn starch diluted in a little water into the fajitas to make the sauce a little less runny. Put the tortillas onto a table and fill them lenghwise with your fajitas mix. Roll them up gently making sure not to split them. Add a little beaten egg onto the lip of the tortilla and set aside. Now heat another frying pan with about 11/2 cm. of coking oil. Heat to a temperature of the oil 150 degrees centigrade Now add your tortillas to the oil carefully taking care not to get burned or to spill the content of the tortillas out. Fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove and place on kitchen paper to soak up the excess oil. Serve on lutuce with salza mexican rice or fries. Buon Apetite

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