No Food from 41° to 135°

by Wasel Choi

We and the temprature around us are the reason of balancing the healthy food we daily consume. One cell of germ can quickly grow by receiving the right temparture in a short period of time.

Having a healthy meal is not by providing fresh and organic food alone but cleaning is a crucial part of this journey as well. Today, I would like to help you find your best way to stay healthy.

There are two major points for eating healthy: Temperature and yourself!

Talking about temperature, we all should learn about the “Danger Zone” which is 45°F to 135°F! Anything that remain more than four hours in the danger zone should be discarded immediately. Cooking food does not destroy most toxins. Foodborne illnes is an illnes resulting from eating food contaminated and is caused by germs, chemicals and toxins. Food contaminated with germs does not look, smell, or taste different from healthy food. Symptoms of foodbrone illness may include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, cramping and nausea. So can you imagine how much we trust our state law! And how much we trust the restaurant we regularly or occasionally visit! We trust them with a closed eye, they are a crucial side of our health. There is more to learn from this blog about this fine line we trust with them.

Cleanness! In the law, every employee should wash their hands to get rid of germs that can make people sick. Wash for approximately twenty seconds with warm running water, soap and dry them. When to wash: 1) Before touching anything to prepare food, 2) before touching food to be cooked, 3) before putting on latex-free gloves and after removing ‘em, 4) after working with raw fish, meat and poultry, 5) after handling dirt, and 6) after using chemicals. The washing job is not done yet! You have to double hand wash: 1) After using restroom, 2) after eating or drinking beverages, 3) after you blow your nose or touch your mouth, 4) and after smoking. Also, always use nail brushing to prevent germs in food, even if they look clean, germs are tiny to be seen. Keep in mind that hand sanutizers are not substitute to hand washing at all! It takes vigorous rubbing with soap and running warm water to loosen soil and illness causing germs.

Also there are other ways to allow germs to transfer, this is called Cross Contamination. It happens when germs are transfered from one food to another — but how would that happen? Well, there are many ways, I will put an example: when a cutting board is used for raw meat is then used to cut cabbage. Germs from the meat can be transferred to the cabbage. So always clean your untensils and boards for each object you have. To prevent Cross Contamination please wash, rinse and sanitize utensils after use. Wash, rinse, sanitize work surfaces and keep ‘em away from your food. Use proper storage practice: 1) store raw meat, fish and poultry on the lower shelves of the refrigerator, 2) separate different type of raw meats from each other, 3) use clean utensils instead of hands for dispensing food, 4) always store food covered, and 5) food storage (containers & shelves) must be at least 6 inches above the floor. Remember your refrigeratore should read 41°F or below.

Also, no one is allowed to cook when they are ill with the “Big Five:” 1) Salmonella, 2) Shigella, 3) E. Coli, 4) Hepatitis A Virus, and 5) Norovirus. In the law there is a term of PIC “Person-In-Charge.” It means someone available who is well-versed in food safety. Any employee should reach a PIC when they are ill with the Big Five or symptoms such as: Vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, or fever. The PIC is required to notify the county health departemnt when an employee has one of the Big Five. No way to continue on touching food if you have any of the mentioned above, no matter if you are an employee or at your own kitchen, because you will transfer germs to the food and equipements and to your family and customers who will end up eating food contaminated with germs or toxins.

We have to understand that no one is immune to foodborne illness. Easily effected people are called “Highly-Susceptible Populations,” they are divided into four groups with the acronym YOPI: Younger than five years old, Old than 65 years old, Pregnant women, and Immune-Compromised.

Potentially Hazardous Foods! Moist and nutrients-rich foods that supports the growth of bacteria when temprature is between 41°F and 135°F. These are example of the nutrients-rich foods, such as: meat, fish, eggs, re-fried beans, baked potatoes, eggs products, cooked vegetables, tofu, packaged soy products, sprouts, melons, fruit, cut tomatoes, lettuce and oil with garlic! Briefly, Potentially Hazardous Foods have to be kept at 41°F or cooler for cold food or at 135°F or higher for hot food, even during transport. Do not accept an delivery of food that is more than 41°F or less than 135°F!

Also jewelry can cause foodbrone illness, except wedding band rings! We, chefs or home cooking persons, are the largest source of germs. But more than anything else are soils! Soil can be a large source of germs, more even than raw meat, viruses and parasites! It is crucial to keep your kicthen clean and your produce should be washed thoroughly as well!

The food can be stored for seven days under 41°F or cooler! Older than that should be discarded. Always remember that there are only three places to thaw food: Microwave, cold water, and refrigeratore. What about cooling solid, soft and thick foods? Hot and cold food should pass through the danger zone! How can we pass the danger zone as fast as enough? I will give you an example:

First, cooling solid foods! Cut large roasts and turkeys into smaller portions. This will help ‘em to cool faster. Note: too much hot food in the refrigerator may warm the temperature to unsafe levels.

Second, cooling soft & thick foods are refried beans, rice, potatoes, stews, chili, thick soup and thick souces. Cool them by pouring ‘em into a shallow metal pan, that will help speed up the cooling, stirring food speeds up cooling time, once food cools to 41°F then you can place food in larger container and cover it.

Air movement in the refrigerator must be able to move around the food. Do not stack food on each other, this is a bad idea, and only cover the food after cooling period is finished (41°F or below.)

A good hygiene starts from frequent bathing, clean hair and clothes! Bon appétit :-)