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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

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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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

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.

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There has always been a lot of speculation around the reason the humble pie was invented. Nowadays our adoration of this clever invention is liable to cloud the objective perspective of those who lived in bygone years. A pie is made of two main ingredient categories, 1) a crust and 2) a pie filling. Nowadays we can enjoy a vast array of crusts or pastries. Their flavors and textures vary to suit both the filling and the sensation that the pastry chef wants the diner to enjoy.

Man has know how to make dough for many thousands of years. Ever since man began to gather cereal crops he has experimented with the possibilities it presented him with. Whole grain bread, in one form or another has been a staple of many civilizations throughout history. Initially, it would have been the job of the women of the house to make bread in a small earthenware oven. As man moved from living in extended family groups or clans resources began to come under the control of chieftains.

This had several consequences for the common man. 1) he had to find ways of pooling resources in order to use fuel more efficiently, 2) if fuel was to be used at a central place somebody would have to be chosen to oversee the baking of the bread. 3) if people would have to pay for these services they would have to work more outside of the home to cover the cost, 4) if they mad less time to mill the grain somebody would have to undertake that function too. And so two important professions were born. The baker and the miller. Now I know that in explaining this process in this way it may seem that I mean that this happened overnight. No, this was a process that may have taken quite some time.

So now we have our bread being baked centrally. What has this got to do with pies you may ask. OK, I’m building up to it. A baker has to keep his oven very hot and at a constant temperature. Because of the design of the bakers oven it has the capacity to hold residual heat for a very long time, even after no more fuel is added. We have already defined heat as a resource that people of bygone eras could not let go to waste. When the baker was not using his oven for baking he would earn a bit more money by letting the women of the village put their pots of stew or hot pot into the oven to cook slowly overnight. This was a very clever idea that was used in many European villages until quite recently and maybe still is in some remote areas.

Now bakers had boys or apprentices working for them who did not get very much to eat. To see an oven full of stew pots simmering away in the oven would have been a type of torture for them and it is told of an evening they would sneak back into the bakery and sample a “little” from all the pots in the oven. The ladies who had given the cooking of their stews to the baker were very disconcerted to find that the level of their pot had reduced somewhat more than they had anticipated. They looked for a solution for this ongoing problem and eventually came up with the idea of wrapping a piece of dough around the rim of the pot and the lid. The pot was now effectively sealed and woe betide the bakers apprentice who broke into one of those seals.

During the evolution of mankind trial and error has led to a great number of observations and the very same ladies who used the bakers oven to cook their weekly stew would have undoubtedly noticed that the condition of the stew would have been better with the pastry seal left on than if it were removed. This would have led to the observation that factors leading to the spoilage of cooked food came from without rather than from within. Therefore, maintaining the state of separation from the environment was seen to preserve the “shelf life” of your stew or hot pot. In those days this was very important news indeed.

If pastry or a dough surround was accepted as being the secret of preventing the rapid spoilage of food, could it be possible to put a filling into pastry and cook it in an oven when one needed to make smaller more individual portions of food? Experimentation along these lines obviously happened. The original ides would have been to eat the filling and discard the pastry crust as if probably wasn’t designed for taste in those early days. As time went on it was obviously realized that to discard the crust was a waste of food resources and hence bakers and women alike began to experiment into ways of making the pastry an integral, edible and tasty part of the pie “experience”. The next time you eat a pie, give a thought for how important it’s development was to the growth of civilization as we know it and the development of insight into food hygiene.

animal-1239132_1920Add to Technorati FavoritesI would like to tell you about a case of food hygiene violation that I recently heard about. It occurred in England a few years ago. I have decided to write about this case, dispite the fact that it happened some time ago, because it shows very clearly the type of people that food hygiene inspectors have to contend with on an almost daily basis. This is a case of blatant disregard for authority and the safety and well being of the customers of the said business and the general public at large.

The case occurred in The city of Bradford which is in the county authority of West Yorkshire in England. Food hygiene and public health authorities received word that large Numbers of rats had been seen frequently behind a certain “greasy spoon” restaurant which was in the proprietorship of a gentleman of Asian origin. The restaurant in question sold cheap fried food to a local population which included English breakfasts, burgers, fish and chips, pies, baked beans and toasted sandwiches.

Bradford city inspectors decided to pay the business a spot visit in order to appraise the reports which they had received. On arrival the inspectors immediately saw that the report pertaining to the presence of large numbers of rats were indeed correct and on entering the premises they found that the kitchen area of the restaurant was in a very run down and unhygienic condition. All of the walls and cooking areas were coated in thick lawyers of congealed, stale grease. All the frying pans contained lawyers of lard which had not been changed for several days and showed evidence of rodent footprints sunken into the surface of the coagulated lard. Rodent and cockroach dropping were evident both on the floor and on shelves. Cockroaches had infested all equipment and storage spaces and the inspectors actually felt their feet sticking to the floor as they walked.

Out of date supplies were found in all areas of the kitchen, some showing signs of fermentation. Fridges had seemingly never been cleaned and all the shelving and walls of the fridges were covered in the remnants of previous uncleaned spillages. Draining boards and sinks were filthy and piles of unclean dishes filled the sinks.

When confronted about the state of the kitchen the owner of the restaurant simply said that everybody knows that “the dirtier the kitchen the better the food”. Shocked by this reply the inspectors wrote out an order closing the kitchen for a period of two weeks in which time the restaurant was to be brought up to a standard which conformed to food hygiene regulations. Notices were put into the windows informing the public that the restaurant was temporarily closed by order of the department of public health.

After the two weeks were up the health inspectors returned to the restaurant expecting the orders to have been carried out. To their utter bewilderment, not only did they find that absolutely nothing had been done but that the condition of the restaurant was actually much worse that it was at the previous inspection. When asked why he had taken no action to repair the state of his restaurant the proprietor answered that “it was contrary to the principles of his religion to receive orders from unbelievers”.

Shocked by this reply, the inspectors issued another writ of closure on the restaurant and gave him a summons to appear before a court of inquiry to answer the charges against him. After hearing the case the presiding judge ordered that the restaurant be permanently closed and that no restaurant should be re opened on that property. In addition the judge placed a lifetime ban upon the proprietor from ever opening a food business of any sort and issued a large fine upon the man.

We who concern ourselves with food hygiene and safety come across this type of case from time to time. The proprietor in question displayed blatant disregard for the health interests of his customers and the public at large. He violated the trust placed in him when he was awarded a licence to run a food business. He attempted to make cynical use of his religious beliefs to justify his actions and discriminated against the inspectors when he called them non believers. His crass, lazy and obstinate attitude worked against him and he got his just deserves.

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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
Quantities:
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.
Method.
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.

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Campylobacter is one of the most common bacterial causes of gastro intestinal diarrheal sickness in the United States of America. The vast majority of these cases occur as isolated and sporadic events and not as part of recognized epidemic like outbreaks. Ongoing surveillance by FoodNet demonstrates that about thirteen cases are diagnosed each year for each 100,000 persons in the population. Many more cases go undiagnosed or unreported, and campylobacteriosis is estimated to affect more than 2.4 million persons each year, or 0.8% of the total population of the USA. This disease is also very common in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Campylobacteriosis occurs far more frequently in the summer months than in the winter months. The organism is isolated from infants and young adults more frequently than from persons in other age groups and from males more frequently than females. Although Campylobacter does not commonly cause death, it has been estimated that approximately 124 persons with Campylobacter infections die each year in the USA.

Campylobacter organisms are spiral-shaped bacteria that can cause disease in humans and animals. Most human illness is caused by one species, called Campylobacter jejuni, but human illness can also be caused by other species. Campylobacter jejuni grows best at the body temperature of a bird, and seems to be well adapted to birds, who carry it without becoming ill. These bacteria are fragile. They cannot tolerate drying and can be killed by oxygen. They grow only in places with less oxygen than the amount in the atmosphere. Freezing reduces the number of Campylobacter bacteria on raw meat.

Almost all persons infected with Campylobacter recover without any specific treatment. Patients should drink extra fluids as long as the diarrhea lasts. In more severe cases, antibiotics such as erythromycin or a fluoroquinolone can be used, and can shorten the duration of symptoms if given early in the illness. Your doctor will decide whether antibiotics are necessary.

Most people who get campylobacteriosis make a complete recovery within two to five days after the onset of symptoms, although sometimes in more serious cases recovery can take up to 10 days. Rarely, Campylobacter infection results in long-term consequences. Some people may develop arthritis. Others may develop a rare disease called Guillain-Barré syndrome that affects the nerves of the body which begins several weeks after the onset diarrheal illness. This occurs when a person’s immune system is triggered to attack the body’s own nerves which results in temporary paralysis that lasts several weeks and usually requires an intensive care regime. It is estimated that approximately one in every 1,000 reported Campylobacter illnesses leads to Guillain-Barré syndrome. As many as 40% of Guillain-Barré syndrome cases in this country may be triggered by campylobacteriosis.Campylobacteriosis usually occurs in single, sporadic cases, but it can also occur in outbreaks, when a number of people become ill at one time. Most cases of campylobacteriosis are associated with eating raw or undercooked poultry meat or from cross-contamination of other foods by these poultry items. Infants may get the infection by contact with poultry meat wrappings in shopping carts. Outbreaks of Campylobacter are usually associated with unpasteurized milk or contaminated water. Animals can also be infected, and some people have acquired their infection from contact with the stool of infected dogs or cats. The organism is not usually spread from one person to another, but this can happen if the infected person is producing large volumes of diarrhea and/or vomit. A very small number of Campylobacter organisms (fewer than 500) can cause illness in humans. Even one drop of juice from raw chicken meat can infect a person. One way to become infected is to cut poultry meat on a chopping board, and then use the unwashed chopping board and knife or other utensils which came into contact with the raw meat to prepare vegetables or other raw or lightly cooked foods. The Campylobacter organisms from the raw meat can by these means spread to the other food products.

Many chicken flocks are infected with Campylobacter but may very well show no signs of illness. Campylobacter can be easily passed from bird to bird through a common water source or through contact with infected feces of other birds. When an infected bird is slaughtered, Campylobacter organisms can be transferred from the intestines to the meat. Likewise, the bacteria can infect a whole batch of birds via the presence of the bacteria being present on equipment and on the hands and/or the gloves of the slaughter house workers who do not wash hands between each bird they handle. In 2005, Campylobacter was present on 47% of raw chicken breasts tested through the FDA-NARMS Retail Food program. Campylobacter is also present in the giblets, especially the liver.

Unpasteurized milk can become contaminated if the cow has an infection with Campylobacter in her udder or milk which has been contaminated with manure. Surface water and mountain streams can become contaminated from infected feces from cows or wild birds. This infection is common in the developing world, and travelers to foreign countries are also at risk for becoming infected with Campylobacter.

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Last Monday morning I received a phone call from the area superintendent of the department of public health. She told me that there was a steady stream of people falling sick due to eating food prepared by one of the large kitchens in our area. She continued to tell me that her department had been through the place with a fine tooth comb but still couldn’t find the source of the contamination. I arranged to meet them at the premises in question the following day to conduct an inspection.

To tell you the truth, I had a pretty good idea what I would be looking for because I had been to that particular kitchen several times in the past and had spotted a few things that seemed problematic. However, I had to make it seem as if I was earning my money so I decided that we would start somewhere quite far from the place that I suspected to be the problem.

We started by taking swabs of everything we saw and asked staff to provide swabs, blood, urine and stool samples. We checked the toilets of staff and diners alike and took swabs from all manner of cooking pots and trays,

I knew that this kitchen was using a type of bread basket within which to thaw meats and fish. The bread baskets were stacked one upon the other and left inside the two degree Celsius anti room of the freezer complex for up to four days. I also knew that the baskets were loaded onto a low level service trolley and brought up to the kitchen. I had known the chef of this kitchen for a number of years and I also knew that it was his practice to unload the baskets into plastic tubs after the lunch had gone out to the dining room. I always made a practice of doing this first thing in the morning before we started on the days chores.

What this meant was that the contents of the baskets were left to warm up from between seven o’clock in the morning until 11 o’clock in the morning. This wasn’t a very good practice. Every chef has his ways but I knew that this was not the exact point I wanted to look at closely. What bothered me were the baskets themselves. I had a word with the chef and asked him to make an exception today and vacate the baskets earlier. What i notices was what I suspected. After rinsing the basket with water to remove the blood I saw that there was a light colored plaque stuck to the plastic. I took a scraper and saw that it came away fairly easily. I took scrapings from all the baskets used that day and then took the baskets to the aluminium washing machine to see what happened.

The man working on the machine proudly took a stack of five baskets and but them onto the machine and presses the operating handle down. The baskets disappeared into the machine for a few seconds and then came out. The worker informed me that this was a very efficient way of washing the baskets. he then placed them back onto the service trolley which had not been washed only sprayed with a water gun and placed the baskets next to the lift ready to by taken back down to the freezers.

The guy in charge of the freezer units the proceeded to re fill them with produce for another day. I had noticed several things, 1) the baskets had not been scrubbed with a stiff plastic brush of Brillo pad with detergent, 2) they had only been rinsed inside the machine which used high pressure but was ineffective due to the fact that the stacking of baskets inside the machine rendered the high pressure ineffective,3) chicken, beef, pork and fish had been set out to thaw in the same tower of eight baskets.

All of this led us to believe that we had quite possibly found the missing link of the food contamination dilemma. What had been happening was that liquid released from the thawing meat and fish had been dripping onto the plaque in the bottom of the baskets which in turn had been dripping onto the neat inside the baskets below. Then we discovered something else. The worker who had been handling the baskets went to work on the dish washing machine that cleaned the crockery and cutlery merely wiping his hands on a towel and removing his plastic apron before going onto the dish washing machine. It was his job to remove the clean cutlery off the dish washing machine. We clearly saw that he could be contaminating the cutlery.

All we needed to do now was to take the cultures we had taken back to the lab and have them checked out. These were the findings. Camphilobacter, Staph Aureus, Salmonella, e. coli, vibrio an listeria were all present in large quantities within the plaque which we removed from the bread baskets. Our findings were relayed to the company management with the following recommendations. All bread baskets to receive immediate soaking in caustic soda. 2) All bread baskets to be scrubbed individually before putting them onto the aluminium machine,3) all bread baskets to be put into the aluminium machine individually and 4) all bread baskets to receive a weekly soaking in caustic soda. 4) aluminium machine worker was to thoroughly wash his hands and change overalls before helping out anywhere else.

A re check will be conducted in two weeks from the day all the baskets were washed in caustic soda.

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When visiting China or any other country with a Chinese orientated culture it can be very challenging to try some of the exotic culinary preparations on offer. People of Chinese origin eat just about anything that is a source of protein. Local delicacies may include insects, reptiles, amphibians, all types of seafood and shellfish, many types of mamals and just about anything else you can think of.

Food poisoning among adventurous western tourists is quite common simply because of the fact that they have no or little awareness of the things which a local can stomach but would be very problematic for them. The prospect of being able to come home and show family and friends pictures of yourself munching on freshly fried cockroaches may be appealing but it may also turn out to be a mistake you might regret for a very long time.

Locals may have a much higher resistance to various food toxins and allergens that you. Their immune systems may well recognize and destroy bacteria which would make you very sick. Remember, they have been exposed to these things all their lives whereas for you it is completely new.

Many good hotels will keep lists of hotels which they feel that it is safe for tourists to eat and in addition they may also have a residential general practitioner on duty or be able to call a reputable GP within a very short space of time.

A good rule of thumb when eating in Chinese restaurants is only to eat in respectable busy places. Only accept your food it it is sizzling hot and do not order anything which your stomach is not used to. Also, never accept fruit which has been peeled for you, always opt to peel it yourself. Never eat salads. In fact, there are no salads in Chinese cuisine. Is it a coincidence that they all eat their food piping hot? Food for thought!

If you do fall sick in China or South East Asia always go to a doctor who has been recommended to you by a respectable establishment. Street doctors are often not qualified by internationally recognized medical schools and may make bad mistakes in diagnosis. Also some doctors may recommend unnecessary treatment and prescribe drugs that you do not need and which may do you more harm than good. It is also most unadvised to go to traditional practitioners because many of the herbal remedies which they prescribe may be infected with mold and cause more harm than good.

Common sense is an absolute must when eating of receiving medical treatment in China. The Chinese government itself are now organizing themselves to bring in a national standards authority which will act upon identical lines to those practiced in Eu regulations and the American FDA. The Chinese government has fully accepted that to continue to operate as they have until now is contrary to the Chinese national interest and prosperity of the Chinese nation. Please, be careful what you eat in China.

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