[tweetthis twitter_handles=”” hidden_hashtags=”#foodhygiene #foodpreparation #cooking #crazyfood #vegan #rawfood #food #cakes #deserts #cream” display_mode=”box”]Study reveals that vegetarians can expect to live 4 years longer on average. Why? Is meat so bad? What are we doing wrong?[/tweetthis]


breakfast-buffet-940622Latest studies reveal that vegetarians can look forward to an extra four years of life. Studies in an Arizona university which included 1.5 million participants revealed that for meat eaters there is an increased risk of over 25% to develop death causing conditions at an earlier age to that of their vegetation counterparts.

The department of family medicine says that the finding confirm earlier notions that the diet has the ability to harm or to heal. The eating of red meat, including pork and all forms of processed meats are the main source of concern.

These are the main points of the report, so lets look into them a little deeper. Firstly, the gut is only capable of processing 50 grams of protein per meal. The body invests a lot of energy breaking protein down because the chains of amino acids in meat need specialized enzymes to break them into smaller chains. We need to realize, also, that proteins exist in plants based foods as well as in meat.

Plant proteins are easier to digest because chemicals that create specialized bonds such as sulphur. Excess meat protein is, therefore pushed through the gut relatively unprocessed and exists the body, more or less as it was put into the body as raw protein.

There is however a complication in that meat tends to stick to the Gut wall and to form pockets. This is due to the fact that meat is more difficult to push along the gut in the smooth peristaltic motion. When the gut has a problem with something it gets stuck on, the muscles find their way around the obstacle so as not to disrupt the timing of the peristaltic motion. Thus, pockets are formed!

These pockets ferment upon the wall of the gut and cause inflammation of the villi. The villi, then become inflamed and porous to the passage of bacteria. This triggers an immune response, one of which is the release of cortisol hormone that reduces inflammation. Cortisol, is a steroid and as with all steroids it tends to interrupt the production of antibodies. This means that in practical terms, the gut becomes chronically ill, to one degree or another.

Vegetables, on the market-1178246_1920other hand contain two factors that help to prevent and to cure this from happening. The first is fiber. Fiber absorbs water and acts as a sponge that cleans the gut out. However, fiber has to be chewed and ground, almost into a powder by the teeth stomach. Large balls of fiber in the gut can act in a similar way to meat blockages. This means that chewing properly is a vital factor of digestion.

The second factor active in plants is a vast array of micro nutrients called phytonutrients. For our bodies to function properly we need phytonutrients from multiple sources of fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts and even spices. Phytonutrients help in the correct transportation of nutrients to the cells and in the transportation of wast materials from the cells. By eating many varieties of plant foods we ensure that there is enough range of essential organic chemicals to perform all the necessary tasks in a symbiotic and integral way And this is why plant foods extend our lives. The report is absolutely correct.







Mbeef-1239184_1920ad cow disease is a classic example of how failure to adhere to the first of the eight principles of food hygiene can cause both dire risk to those who come into contact with meat infected with mad cow disease and cause terrible suffering for cattle. The need to make sure that animals are reared properly includes how and with what they are fed. The exact meaning of this statement will become clear as you read this article. The diligence needed at each and every stage of food production and food preparation is absolutely vital in order to maintain the full integrity of food safety. Below you will find an explanation of mad cow disease that will give you insight and understanding of this terrible disease.

Mad cow disease or Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE for short) is a neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system of cattle of all breeds. It is believed (although not 100% proven) that this disease is caused due to the feeding of animal tissue (usually from cattle by also from sheep or pigs) to cattle.

It is common practice nowadays to feed cattle proteins from animal sources. This may be bone meal, blood meal, brain tissue meal or even feather meal. The reason why cattle are fed animal protein is because the protein levels that are present in most plants are relatively low and some strains of bacteria in the cows rumen break them down into undesirable fatty acids such as butyric acid which are less than ideal for the production of milk and flesh mass on beef cattle. (Acetic acid is best for milk production and propionic acid produces the best muscle mass).

The thing that farmers and industrialists alike are constantly looking for is protein types that the bacteria resident with the rumen will not recognise and therefore will pass through the rumen unaffected by the bacteria and pass into the true stomach where they will passed into the bloodstream through the cows intestine. For this technique to be successful, the farmer must alternate the type of protein given to the cow in its feed so that the bacteria of the rumen will not grow to recognize it and hence metabolise it.

Animal proteins contain prions which are proteins that can change the structure of other proteins that they come into contact with. Factories that make animal protein feed (Often in the far east) are renowned for not adhering to procedure and this can cause fluctuations to happen both in the processing time and temperature levels. You see, if the proteins are properly cooked, they will not cause any damage because when cooked, proteins change their structure.

The effect of eating improperly processed protein feed can cause the prions within the protein of the feed to change the structure of the proteins of the cattles brain and spinal cord. This causes the tissue to become spongy meaning thet there are empty spaces within the tissue where there should have been nervous tissue. This wasting and structural change of the cows brain tissue cause the signals that come from the brain to malfunction causing the cow to appear to have fits and seizures. This condition can take up to five years to develop in the cow.

Although few cases were reported above the norm, in technical terms, this condition can be passed on to humans especially where meat is only lightly cooked (or red in the middle). This disease cost farmers billions of dollars worth of damage , especially in the UK where some six million cattle either died because of the disease or were slaughtered in an attempt to eradicate it.

It is believed that some bad feed is still being exported from the far east, (especially from India).

cheese-1278812_1920Food spoilage is really nothing more than a natural deterioration of organic matter. Everything in nature has to be broken down so that it can once again become part of the composition of soil. All of the various natural processes that participate in the spoilage of organic material are ultimately directed toward this aim.

Odor. Bad odor is a symptom of food spoilage. Foods that have a bad odor should be thrown out. We have already gone into the causes of foul refrigerator odor with regards the spilage of food. Yet there is another factor that we should take into consideration when talking about foul odors of food and that is that the odors can be soaked up by foods which have not spoiled and make them disagreeable to eat. In saying that, this problem does not only pertain to food which has spoiled. Nobody would like to eat a piece of cake that has adopted the odor and taste of smoked salmon, for instance. This is a major problem in the home kitchen. Luckily there are now products available that help to reduce the severity of refrigerator odor and foul taste transfer between foods. Now you can buy a refrigerator purifier that will prove invaluable in the prevention of refrigerator odor. This product is a real food saver. Small air filters for fridges are also available.

When we define food spoilage we can say that spoilage of food pertains any disagreeable change in the nature of food from the normal condition that we expect. These changes may compromise food hygiene. We are able to distinguish these changes through use of our senses. For instance, food may change visually, it may change in smell, to the touch or in taste. In saying that, we use some forms of what technically amounts to food spoilage, in a controlled way, to achieve a desired effect, as in Camembert cheese for instance. We crave the runiness of the cheese that is produced by specially selected bacteria and mould to produce an effect which many of us find pleasing to eat. Other examples of controlled food deterioration include Danish blue, Gorgonzola, Stilton and many other forms of cheese. We also tenderize meat such as game by jugging it or purposely speed up the deterioration process of meat when we inject lactbacillus bacteria into steak to mimic the ageing process. In short and in technical terms, food spoilage works for us easily as much as it works against us.

Nevertheless, food does spoil because once the fruit of vegetable has been picked or the animal has been slaughtered, the natural processes and defences of the organism are compromised and exposure to the outside environment causes a number of inevitable changes to occur.

The factors which bring about these changes include, air and oxygen, light, moisture, microbial growth factors and ambient temperature. Some of these changes indicate poor food hygiene and cross contamination and others point to chemical reactions and changes due to physical phenomina. Let’s go through the various causes.

Air and oxygen: Air comprises of about eighty percent nitrogen and about twenty percent oxygen. The level of oxygen in the air is too great for most organisms and therefore organisms have developed strategies to counter the harmful effects of oxygen. Our lungs are lined with a substance called surfactant. Surfactant provides a necessary barrier between the tissue of the lung and the oxygen in the air to counteract the caustic effect of the oxygen upon the lung tissue. Our bodies and the bodies of other organisms produce anti oxidants to counter other undesirable reactions of oxygen with substances called free radicals. By binding to free radicals, anti oxidants prevent reactions which are harmful to our bodies. When an organisms no longer has the support of it’s various physiological support systems, the chemical make up of the organism will start to react with the oxygen in the air.

Micro organisms which require the presence of oxygen in order to metabolize organic tissue, such as aerobic bacteria and moulds, are able to colonize those areas of the flesh which are exposed to the air. The will form colonies upon the food and start to metabolize the flesh of the organism and divide at a rate of one division every twenty minutes per bacterial cell. In some cases as few as one thousand bacteria can be enough to contitute a food hygiene risk.

Enzymes, particularly oxidizing enzymes, which react with oxygen also aid the process of food spoilage. In vegetables enzymes such as catase and peroxidase cause the familiar browning of the flesh of foods such as apples and potatoes. Enzymes are substances which speed up chemical reactions and enzymatic reaction with oxygen in organic matter causes the degeneration of the matter to hasten considerably. In cooking a rapid heat treatment known as blanching is used to cancel these enzymatic reactions. Enzymatic changes do not usually render food inedible but if combined with microbial infestation such as mould or certain bacteria the ingestion of such spoiled food would constitute a food hygiene risk.

Water: water is the most abundant substance in nature. All organisms are made up of at least seventy percent water. The water within an organism when it is alive is termed as bound water because it is chemically connected to other substances within the body. All living organisms maintain a certain level of chemical concentration. This is said to mimic the concentration of sea water from which all living organisms originate. Concentrated fluids flow around the cells and each cell contains within it a carefully controlled liquid environment. The balance between the concentration of the fluids which flow around the cell and the fluid which exists within the cell is carefully regulated by the central control system of the organism, whether it be plant or animal. In higher organisms this process is called homeostasis.

Once a plant or an animal has been cut into smaller parts, the tissues whose fluid environment was once carefully controlled are now exposed to the environment. When the organism’s flesh comes into contact with moisture a physical phenomenon occurs. All substances in nature try to match their concentration levels to other substances around them, This is called diffusion. The flesh of an organism, when exposed to water will soak up the water in an attempt to dilute the concentration levels within the flesh of the organism to the concentration levels around it. This may cause the cells of the organism to explode by being too full of water. This form of tissue deterioration is a major cause of food spoilage. This intake of moisture into the tissue of the food source is the perfect vector for micro organisms to infest it. This is a very good example of how food spoilage occurs and food hygiene breakdowns happen.

In addition, excess “free” water within or around the cell gives bacteria the perfect medium in which to operate. In bacterial terms this is like a super highway in which bacteria are able to spread throughout the flesh of an organism. Water within an organism can be controlled by a) dehydration, b) freezing or c by the addition of food preservatives.

Light: Spoilage of food which is caused by light is called photo degeneration. All food is exposed to light at some time or another. Light can be either natural light or artificial light. Light, like all other forms of energy is made up of different wave lenghts. At the outer ends of the light spectrum we have infra red and ultra violet light which can vary in intensity in different parts of the world. These forms of light radiation are known to be harmful and can cause dead and live tissue to react in negative ways.

Exposure to light sources can cause foods to change in nature. Pigments may change, as may vitamin levels, fats and proteins. In solid foods the density of the material such as in meat may block deep penetration of light and therefore the effects of light may only cause changes to happen on the surface of the product. In liquids light penetration can be much deeper and therefore the effects of photo degeneration can be much more substantial.

Microbial growth. Micro organisms play a vital role in the balance of nature. Bacteria and other types of microbes haves each evolved to fill a specific niche. Some bacteria have developed a symbiotic relationship relationship with living organisms and some have developed a parasitical relationship. Healthy organisms manage to keep parasitical bacteria at bay through their immune systems and homeostasis. However, parasitical bacteria are constantly on the look out for signs of weakness and it is their job to bring about the rapid demise of sick organisms and to ensure that they are re cycled back into the environment through the process of tissue deterioration and degeneration. In prehistoric times man did not store much food. He ate from hand to mouth and so food did not have much time to go off. Modern man, because of his lifestyle, needs to store food and to do this he needs to effect a different kind of environmental control in comparison to prehistoric man.

In a previous chapter I mentioned that psicrophilic bacteria can cause food spoilage at low temperatures. In cold climates landscapes freeze for many months and animals find it difficult to survive. Weaker animals die during the winter months and remain frozen until the beginning of the thaw in spring. Although thawed a carcass may remain too cold for many types of bacteria to develop and it is for this reason that certain bacteria adapted to this niche so that the detioration of the carcass could begin. This process helps to ensure that the period of time during which more pathogenic bacteria infest the carcass and hence spread into the environment is considerably lessened. This is the function and importance of psicrophilic bacteria in nature. We can control the undesirable effects of psicrophilic bacteria in our cold stores through the implementation of a good hygiene regime.

In general, sources of food contamination come from the environment particularly from, animal wastes, soil, water and air. Here the “Four stages of food hygiene” come into play. Great care must be taken to make sure that food comes from safe sources, that food does not come into contact with other bacterial sources, that bacteria does not have conditions for growth and that tools and work surfaces are kept free from bacteria. food hygiene regime and temperature is all critical here. Don’t make mistakes or cut corners and bacteria will not develop.

Temperature. Temperature is probably the single most important environment which we can control to prevent the spoilage of food. Temperature regulates several changes in the nature of organic matter. Firstly it slows down chemical reactions within the food. Secondly it can prevent the ggrowth development of bacteria or destroy bacteria through cooking, Temperature regulation can control the destruction of vitamins and prevent dehydration and ripening of food.

However, temperature need to be professionally controlled. Over freezing can cause surfaces to crack of the development of ice crystals at microscopic levels can puncture cells causing the flesh to become soft and pulpy. Pigment can be lost and chemicals within the food may react and loose much of their nutritious value. This process is commonly called freezer burning.

In cold stores vegetables and fruit are best held at temperatures of around 10 degrees Celsius. meats should be chilled to four degrees Celsius and frozen food should be stored at -18 degrees Celsius for a period not exceeding six months in most cases. Aaways make sure that you follow manufacturers storage instructions. If in doubt don’t be afraid to contact the manufacturer or importer to get their advise.

bacteria-108895_1920Pseudomonas bacteria are a genus of bacteria which exist widely in the environment. They are gram negative, rod shaped, non spore forming, motile, flagellated aerobes. Pseudomonas aeruginosea, probably the most well know of all pseudomonas strains, is an opportunistic pathogen that has the capability of adapting to many niches. It can infect animals and humans alike and can cross the species barrier and for this reason it is considered a potentially zoonotic pathogen. This type of bacteria is immune to many types of bacteria because it has within it’s cell wall a mechanism known as an efflux pump which pumps antibiotics back out of the cell before they have had time to take effect. It is the second most common bacterial contaminant in hospitals and it is known to be paticularly malicious in burn units where it prevents the regeneration of healthy tissue. Bacteria of the pseudomonas family are grown on blood agar which turns from a blood red color to a marine blue/green hue. It also gives off a quite pleasant slightly minty smell.

One form of Pseudomonas pathogen causes a highly contageous disease in horses which is also highly infectious to humans. The disease in horses is know as glanders because it affects the glands in and around the throat and jaws of the horse. This disease was common when colonial forces shipped large quantities of horses to places like Africa, the Middle East and the Far East. Now, this disease is more rarer. The scientific name of this pathogen is Pseudomonas Mallei and it is registered as one of the possible bacterial strains that could be used in bacterial warefare together with Clostridium Botolinum and Anthrax.

Other forms of Pseudonas bacteria are known to cause spoilage in food at low temperatures. These psicrophilic Pseudomonas strains include: P. fragi which causes spoilage of dairy products , P. taetrolens which causes mustiness in eggs and P. mudicolens, and P. lundensis, which causes spoilage of milk, cheese, meat, and fish.

The term spoilage is used in food hygiene for a condition by which the food takes on an unpleasant texture, color change smell taste. This does not mean that the food has necessarily become a serious health risk in the same way as if meat were infected with e.coli or salmonella, for instance, but at the same time it is definitely not advisable to eat spoiled food. It means that the food has been infected with bacteria which cause the physical nature of the food to change. For instance, meat may become slimy to the feel or the outer lawyer of certain foods may become pulpy, it may also smell slightly sour and change color. This happens to food which has been stored in refrigerated conditions for long periods of time in places which have not been properly cleaned with anti bacterial disinfectants. I often see this condition in places such as deli counters where meat is sliced in front of the customer.

However a little slime on meat, such as with cured pastrami in particular and with other types of processed meats is not always a sign of spoilage. It may well be due to a reaction between the protein of the meat, the curing chemicals and the air. Many manufacturers now use preservatives to prevent such spoilage. In addition, the reaction of the preservative with the air and other factors within the meat can cause the color of the product to change slightly as well. The color of the may become slightly irridescent or take on a greenish hue. If the meat smells even the slightest bit sour, feels or looks slimy or has a bad color refuse to accept it.

Spoiled food such as cured meats meat can cause stomach discomfort, diarrhea, vomiting or mild allergic symptoms in some people and may even become more serious in people whose immune system is compromised. Remember this central rule of food hygiene, “When in doubt throw it out”.

Fish products are particularly susceptible to spoilage and it can be very difficult to guess from a casual inspection if the deterioration of the fish is due to spoilage bacteria such as the psicrophilic pseudonmonas species stated above or if the cause is due to more dangerous, pathogenic forms of bacteria. If fish looks even slightly slimy, discolored or smells in the least sour don’t buy it or if it has turned bad in your fridge throw it out and clean you fridge thoroughly with disinfectant. (A tactic used by many fresh fish mungers to hide the tell tale smell of fish which has started to show signs of going off is to constantly pour sea water over it. Watch out for this trick. If you are not sure if you are smelling the actual fish or sea water, don’t buy the fish). Most importantly, keep all fish products in closed containers to avoid cross contamination with of by other food products in your fridge.

The same goes for eggs milk and cheese, if you distinguish any changes in color texture or smell, don’t take any risks, better to throw out and buy fresh. To lower the risk being sold spoiled or food which is about to spoil, buy only from supermarkets and stores which are very busy and have a high turnover of merchandise, particularly in the deli sections. Don’t be embarrassed to inspect what you buy, you are paying for fresh and healthy food and the decision to take what is on offer or not is entirely your own. The customer is always right. If you notice that the food you buy goes off quickly and you know that a). your fridge is clean and b). the temperature of the fridge is as it should be then take the food back to the store with your receipt and demand a refund or a fresh replacement. If the problem continues report your findings to your local authority for food hygiene.

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Here’s a little extra for those cooking fanatics among you.

OK, lets get one thing straight, In Hungary goulash is a soup but in the west we have turned it into a main course dish similar to stew. When I make my goulash all my Hungarian friends think it’s a joke.
So let’s get down to making a really great (albeit Western) goulash.
Goulash, in non Hungarian terms is a combination of meat, Usually beef, carrots, potatoes, sauerkraut and spices in a thickish sauce.
The dish can be cooked in a pot on the stove or in a casserole dish in the oven.
The ingredients that you will need for goulash are fairly simple and straight forward. Here’s the list:
1) Cubes of Beef. I use number two or number ten cuts for goulash. They are less expensive cuts and quite good enough.
2) Potatoes, diced into large cubes
3) Carrots, cut into thickish rings.
4) Sauerkraut.
5) Onions, cubed and lightly fried.
6) Beef Bullion cubes.
7) Sweet Paprika powder.
8) Black pepper
9) Crushed Garlic.
10) Tomato Puree (or paste. optional)
11) Water
For a family of four to six people you will need about one kilogramme of beef. The content of potatoes and carrots use in the goulash should make up about two thirds of the quantity of the beef.
The first job is to sear the meat on all sides on a lightly oiled skillet. Once that’s done transfer the meat into your cooking pot.
at this stage add your sweet paprika, sprinkling about three teaspoons onto the meat while stirring over the flame.
You can now add about one small half teaspoon of black pepper, stirring onto the meat. Now add water until the meat is covered by about one inch of water. Heat until the pot is boiling and then turn the heat down so that the pot is simmering.
Add about one large cup of sauerkraut and stir in. After this add one large cup of chopped and lightly fried onions and one teaspoon of crushed garlic.
Leave the pot to cook now for about half an hour stirring only occasionally.
When the half hour is up check to see if the meat is tenderizing. Once the meat is starting to show signs of softening add a bullion cube and taste. You may need to add a little more depending on which type of bullion cubes you use.
Stir well and then add the potatoes and carrots. Continue to stir occasionally making sure that the ingredients do not stick to the bottom of the pot.
If you like a tomato taste to your goulash, use a little tomato puree to thicken the dish, add two to three teaspoons of tomato puree and stir in well.
Tomato paste is tart and for this reason we do not add it until the final stages of cooking because it causes the meet to toughen again and go rubbery. Additional cooking time will be needed to soften the meat.
Continue to cook the dish until all the ingredients are soft enough to eat but not breaking up.
If you like your goulash to have a little bite, you can add a few drops of tabasco.
The way that I thicken the sauce is to take about one teaspoon of corn flour mixed into a little water and to stir it into the boiling mixture. This way the cornflour gives the goulash a nice shiny appearance.
An optional extra that gives goulash a pleasant sweetish taste is to add some garden peas. I do this occasionally for a change.
In effect Goulash is an all in meal that has a combination of protein, carbohydrate and vegetables.
I like to serve goulash in a long oval bowl on a plate with a few slices of gorgeous, thick crusted caraway seed bread.
A strong red wine helps the goulash to go down a treat.

© 2019 Food Hygiene Essentials