This past weekend we were in Traverse City, Michigan for the Cherry Festival and some business errands. My husband and I took our 9 year old granddaughter and a student from Paris along for some fun. There was a carnival and of course the aroma of elephant ears. After going on most of the rides, the kids started checking out the food court. The big struggle was cherries in every form imaginable vs something from one of the many vendors.
I was happy to see one of the cooks checking the temperatures of the hot containers of food on his cooking station. It reminded me of all of the outdoor festivities, graduation and pool parties that take place during the summer where food handling can go awry.
Just like the personal care products we make, we have to protect the food we serve against all sorts of microbes that can make us sick. Most problems with food-born illness are related to time and temperature, with pH a lesser variable. Cold foods must be maintained at 41°F or less. For hot foods- something can be safe when cooked only to 140F but held for two hours or it can be brought to a higher temp like 165F for 15 seconds.
As food goes from cold storage to final product and back down to cold when kept as leftovers it spends time in the “food danger zone” where bacteria proliferate quickly sometimes to the point where they will never be able to safely be reduced and also have the food remain edible.
Since 48 million people (1:6) in the US will get food born illness this year alone this is something to keep in mind- especially since most foodborne illness happens in the home. Some types of salmonella can withstand much higher temps than what is found in most kitchens. Hopefully all of us will enjoy a healthy summer- sans salmonella sandwiches!