As a dietitian, I have the opportunity to learn about an incredible variety of foods and ways of eating that I had never conceived of before. Some time ago I was chatting with a gentleman in the grocery store line who described to me what he was planning to make for dinner. It involved ground beef mixed with an egg and seasoned with salt and pepper. That was it – no heating at all. As a dietitian I was horrified and despite my policy of never giving nutrition advice at the grocery store, I strongly encouraged him to rethink the no-cooking part of his dinner! I don’t think I convinced him but I have been thinking of him more and more over the past few days as I watch the news unfolding from Europe and the deadly E. coli outbreak that is happening there. I decided to focus this next blog on food safety.
It’s easy to think that this will never happen to you but it’s always a good idea to refresh your food handling techniques at home to make sure it doesn’t! One of the groups of people who are most at risk of infection are those with compromised immune systems (such as many kidney patients).
Health Canada offers the following advice to prevent E. coli poisoning:
- Cook food to a safe internal temperature using a digital thermometer. (Ground beef must be cooked to at least 160F)
- Do not eat hamburger patties that are pink in the middle. If served an undercooked hamburger, send it back for further cooking. Ask for a new bun and a clean plate, too.
- Avoid spreading harmful bacteria. Keep raw meat separate from ready-to-eat foods. Wash hands, counters, and utensils with hot soapy water after they have come in contact with raw meat. Never place cooked hamburgers on the unwashed plate that held raw patties. Wash thermometers in between testing patties.
- Eat and drink only pasteurized juice, cider, milk and milk products.
- Drink water from a safe (treated or boiled) supply.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing or eating food.
- Wash raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly with clean, safe running water before you prepare and eat them. Use a brush to scrub produce with firm or rough surfaces, like oranges, cantaloupes, potatoes and carrots. Even if you don’t plan to eat the peels, fruits like melons and oranges should always be washed before cutting to help prevent any bacteria from being transferred from the peel during peeling or cutting.
- Wash your hands after contact with animals (at home, farms, petting zoos and fairs).
- Keep pets away from food storage and preparation areas.
- If you think you are infected with E. coli bacteria or any other gastrointestinal illness, do not prepare food for other people.
- The golden rule when it comes to leftovers: If in doubt – throw it out!
Check out http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/ill-intox/index-eng.php for more information of food safety and food-related illnesses.
Being concerned about food safety doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your food – and as we are most definitely in barbeque season I’d like to share this recipe with you. I came across this in a cookbook that we received with our new barbeque last year and as soon as I found a recipe that had no salt added I had to try it. Happily it was a hit with my entire family and I hope you will enjoy it too!
1 large onion, chopped
½ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup olive oil
10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
In the bowl of a food processor or blender, puree the onion, lemon juice, oregano, paprika and garlic. With the motor running, slowly add the oil. Place the chicken in a large, resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Press the air out of the bag and seal tightly. Turn the bag to distribute the marinade and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the extra marinade. Barbeque the chicken over direct medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning once. Ensure no trace of pink remains inside and the internal temperature is 165F. Enjoy with rice and a green salad!
Recipe adapted from Weber’s Way to Grill