Posts belonging to Category bacteria



The Holiday Buffet

holiday buffetHoliday buffets are a popular way to entertain, but these kinds of food service, where foods are left out for long periods of time, can be a health hazard.

Here are some tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline to help you have a safe holiday party.

Safe Food Handling
Always serve food on clean plates — not those previously holding raw meat and poultry. Otherwise, bacteria which may have been present in raw meat juices can cross contaminate the food to be served.

Cook Thoroughly
If you are cooking holiday foods ahead of time for your party, be sure to cook foods thoroughly to safe minimum internal temperatures.

  • Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.
  • Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
  • Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.

Use Shallow Containers to Store Holiday Foods
Divide holiday cooked foods into shallow containers to store in the refrigerator or freezer until serving. This encourages rapid, even cooling. Reheat hot foods to 165 °F. Arrange and serve food on several small platters rather than on one large platter. Keep the rest of the food hot in the oven (set at 200-250 °F) or cold in the refrigerator until serving time. This way foods will be held at a safe temperature for a longer period of time. REPLACE empty platters rather than adding fresh food to a dish that already had food in it. Many people’s hands may have been taking food from the dish, which has also been sitting out at room temperature.

The Two-Hour Rule for Holiday Buffets
Holiday foods should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Keep track of how long foods have been sitting on the buffet table and discard anything there two hours or more.

Keep Hot Foods HOT And Cold Foods COLD
Hot foods should be held at 140 °F or warmer. On the buffet table you can keep hot foods hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays. Cold foods should be held at 40 °F or colder. Keep foods cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice. Otherwise, use small serving trays and replace them.

Foodborne Bacteria
Bacteria are everywhere but a few types especially like to crash parties. Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens and Listeria monocytogenes frequent people’s hands and steam tables. And unlike microorganisms that cause food to spoil, harmful or pathogenic bacteria cannot be smelled or tasted. Prevention is safe food handling.

If illness occurs, however, contact a health professional and describe the symptoms.

Staphylococcus aureus
Staphylococcus (“staph”) bacteria are found on our skin, in infected cuts and pimples, and in our noses and throats. They are spread by improper food handling. Prevention includes washing hands and utensils before preparing and handling foods and not letting prepared foods — particularly cooked and cured meats and cheese and meat salads — sit at room temperature more than two hours. Thorough cooking destroys “staph” bacteria but staphylococcal enterotoxin is resistant to heat, refrigeration and freezing.

Clostridium perfringens
Perfringens” is called the “cafeteria germ” because it may be found in foods served in quantity and left for long periods of time on inadequately maintained steam tables or at room temperature. Prevention is to divide large portions of cooked foods such as beef, turkey, gravy, dressing, stews and casseroles into smaller portions for serving and cooling. Keep cooked foods hot or cold, not lukewarm.

Listeria monocytogenes
Because Listeria bacteria multiply, although slowly, at refrigeration temperatures, these bacteria can be found in cold foods typically served on buffets. To avoid serving foods containing Listeria, follow “keep refrigerated” label directions and carefully observe “sell by” and “use by” dates on processed products, and thoroughly reheat frozen or refrigerated processed meat and poultry products before consumption.

Allergy Triggers, What You Need to Know

allergyThe American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology,ACAAI, reported, in a July press release, that common allergy triggers in classrooms and playgrounds spur 14 million school absences a year in U.S.

“Children with allergies and asthma should be able to feel good, be active and not miss any classes or activities this school year due to their condition,” allergist Dr. James Sublett, chair of the ACAAI Public Relations Committee, said in a college news release. “Helping  children understand what triggers their allergy symptoms can keep them focused on their studies and not their allergies.”

The ACAAI advises that there are ways children can stay away from allergy triggers so they can feel their best, including:

  • Avoid chalk dust. Children with asthma or allergies should wash their hands after handling chalk and not sit too close to the chalkboard.
  • Steer clear of bees and wasps. Children should not disturb bees or other insects when they are outside. They should also avoid wearing brightly colored clothing on the playground. Parents of children with insect allergies should consider talking to an allergist about venom immunotherapy, which can be 97 percent effective in preventing future reactions to insect bites.
  • Pack lunch. Children with food allergies should bring their lunch to school and avoid sharing food, napkins or utensils with their friends. Teachers, coaches and the school nurse should also be informed about students’ food allergies. In extreme cases, food allergies can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction. Parents could also suggest that school adopt an allergen-free snack policy.
  • Be aware of breathing troubles after physical activity. Children who experience trouble breathing during or after gym class, recess or other physical activities at school could have exercise-induced broncho-constriction or asthma. These children need to be seen by an allergist who can diagnose and treat their conditions.
  • Don’t cuddle classroom pets. Children with allergies should avoid pets with fur and not be seated next to children who have furry pets at home. Parents can also request that teachers choose a hairless classroom pet, such as a fish or a frog.

Experts recommended that parents of children with allergy symptoms or asthma make an appointment with a board-certified allergist to develop a treatment plan.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about students’ health in school.

(SOURCE: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, news release, July 19, 2012)

How Clean is your Toothbrush?

Researchers at England’s University of Manchester say your toothbrush can be a breeding place for germs.

They found that one uncovered toothbrush can harbor more than 100 million bacteria, including E. coli bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, and staphylococci (“staph”) bacteria that cause skin infections.

toothbrushSo, how safe is your toothbrush?

Well, according to Gayle McCombs, RDH, MS, associate professor and director of the Dental Hygiene Research Center at Old Dominion University, “There are hundreds of microorganisms in our mouths each and every day. But problems only start when there is an unhealthy balance of bacteria in the mouth.”

Oral hygiene experts agree that no matter how many bacteria live in your mouth, or have gotten in there from your toothbrush, your body’s natural defenses make it most unlikely that you will get sick from brushing your teeth.

Here are some recommended common sense storage toothbrush storage tips from the experts:

  • Don’t Brush Where You Flush – Every toilet flush sends a spray of bacteria into the air. You don’t want the toilet spray anywhere near your open toothbrush. McCombs says. “It’s just common sense to store your toothbrush as far away from the toilet as possible.”
  • Once you’ve moved your toothbrush away from the toilet, here are a few other storage tips to keep your brush as germ-free as possible:
    • Wash off your toothbrush thoroughly with tap water every time you use it.
    • “Bacteria love a moist environment,” Harms says. Make sure your brush has a chance to dry thoroughly before you use it again. Avoid using toothbrush covers, which can create a moist enclosed breeding ground for bacteria.
    • Store your toothbrush upright in a holder, rather than lying it down.
    • No matter how close you are to your sister, brother, spouse, or roommate, don’t ever use their toothbrush. Don’t even store your toothbrush side-by-side in the same cup with other people’s brushes. Whenever toothbrushes touch, they can swap germs.

Source: WebMD

Food Safety and Power Outages

When heat and severe storms foodcause power outages the big food questions are…what to save and when to throw out?

No one wants to lose a freezer and refrigerator full of food, but spoiled food can cause serious illness.

According to the USDA Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency you need to adhere to the following guidelines:

Frozen Food

  1. A full freezer will keep temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
  2. If the power is going to be out for a long time, buy dry or block ice.
  3. Thawed or partially thawed food in the freezer may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below. Partial thawing and refreezing may affect the quality of some food, but the food will be safe to eat.
  4. If you keep an appliance thermometer in your freezer, it’s easy to tell whether food is safe. When the power comes back on, check the thermometer. If it reads 40 °F or below, the food is safe and can be refrozen.

 

Refrigerated Food

  Keep the fridge closed. It will keep food cold for about 4 hours. Throw away any foods that have been above 40 degrees for longer than two hours.

Words of Caution:

  • Never taste food to determine its safety! You can’t rely on appearance or odor to determine whether food is safe.

  • Always discard any items in the refrigerator and freezer that have come into contact with raw meat juices.
  • Remember, when in doubt, throw it out!

Food Safety

foodFood safety is an all-year-round concern.

But, the warm months get us thinking more about what we buy, how we wash, package and store food when our food has a greater chance of spoiling more quickly.

Some food safety issues may be beyond our control, such as how long milk and other perishables sat out in the heat before reaching the refrigeration units in the supermarket.

We can do something about the following food safety practices:

  • Don’t believe the myth that leftovers or other foods in the refrigerator for several days are still safe to eat if they don’t smell bad. The fact is that there are different kinds of bacteria in food that can make us sick that don’t change the taste or smell or look of a food.
  • Choose to freeze leftovers after the first serving as a meal. Err on the side of caution and throw away foods that have been in the refrigerator more than 3 days.
  • Don’t believe the popularly held belief that freezing foods kills bacteria.
  • Bacteria can survive freezing temperatures. Freezing is not a method for making foods safe to eat. When food is thawed, bacteria can still be present and may begin to multiply.
  • Cooking food to the proper internal temperature is the best way to kill harmful bacteria. Use a thermometer to measure the temperature of cooked foods

Source: Partnership for Food Safety Education

For more food safety tips, myths and facts go to: http://www.fightbac.org