A Thread About Food Safety And Foodborne Illness

Discussion in 'Egg, Chicken, & Other Favorite Recipes' started by bigmike&nan, Oct 5, 2011.

  1. Today a Facebook friend of mine revived a thread I had posted on another site ages ago. I know we're all adults and most of us have cooked for generations, so much of this is common sense to you. I'm posting this for the young people here who are learning. SQUISHY, this is for you kid. Read all the links. As old my first chef instructor, Chef Patricia used to say "I teach you this so you'll be smart. Besides it makes interesting cocktail chatter".
    This will be a long thread. Read it at your leisure.

    Todd was making gumbo for a party, it was real good - he took it to the party and very late that night when things had quieted down (very late) he still had about a gallon of gumbo. It had sat out at room temperature for quite a number of hours. It's great gumbo but he's concerned it being out so long risks food poisoning. He PM'ed me but I didn't see his msg until much later. My answer would have been the same I gave him if I had seen it earlier when he sent it.

    What do you think. If you were Todd what would have done with the gumbo ??

    Here are some food resource links. Read this info. Keep this thread in the back of your mind and remember this info should you find yourself in Todd's dilemma - or have some ask you what they should do...

    Remember it is always better to be safe and throw away something you are worried will give someone food poisoning than to risk actually giving them food poisoning... Period.

    Here is a link that has scads of other links talking about proper food handing in the home. There are links with info and questions, read them ALL. Priceless info.


    Not to be obtuse sounding here is what Todd SHOULD have done with the gumbo soon as people were done eating it - this is in the first two hours he is at the party, NOT AFTER... Reason being that food has a "ticking clock" of four hours. From the time you make it to the time you serve it to the time you want to refrigerate it, it should either be completely cooled down and refrigerated or tossed... In that four hours the warm food is the perfect environment for foodborne bacteria to grow and cause illness... So if it went more than four hours from the time it came off the stove to the time it was COMPLETELY cooled down (we're talking 40 degrees with a quick read thermometer) it should get thrown out. I know when people are at parties it's not easy to stay focused on stuff like this but anyone who has had foodborne illness will testify it's not something you want to repeat happening to you OR to do to someone else.

    When you have a big pot of soup or sauce you have cooked and want to pack it up there are two ways to do it - break it down into small containers and get it someplace cool (not the fridge) to cool off fast THEN cover and refrigerate it. OR once the pot has been off the heat say 20 minutes or so you can do what restaurants do: make an ice water bath in your kitchen sink and put the pot in there. The level of very iced water in this bath must be even with the level of the food in the container you are trying to water bath cool. Stir the product repeatedly until the temp reaches 40 degrees with a quick read thermometer. If all the ice melts in the sink add more. The object is a quick and thorough cool down... THEN break into smaller containers or refrigerate the now completely cooled product still in the pot in your fridge... Just putting warm food in containers and putting it in the fridge like that IS NOT good. You MUST get it cooled down before covering and refrigerate. Otherwise those warm containers of food will not only be their own little bacteria havens but severely bring down the temp of your fridge and create a real problem with a lot of food you already have in there...

    This link has a lot of food safety questions and answers. Read and re-read until you REALLY get this. Ask questions if you are not sure.


    This below link gives you the info in detail AND pictures of what a proper ice bath should look like. There should be no doubt in your mind and if there is fire away with questions. I'm here to answer them and no serious question is a dumb question.


    "I teach you this so you'll be smart
    Besides it makes interesting cocktail chatter"
    Chef Patricia, my first instructor

    After I posted this first part I got a lot of "what if" questions.

    Here a young man asks me what if I take something to a party and it sits out three hours, can I reheat it and will it be safe still ??

    From the time it is taken off the heat when initially cooked to the time it was to be served to the time it is TOTALLY cooled down (we're not talking TEPID, we're talking 40 degress with a quick read thermometer) - FOUR HOURS MAX... You make the call Chris, "three hours or so and has cooled down" is vague and uncertain enough I'd lean toward tossing it...

    What people think is "cooled down" and what we now KNOW is considered cooled down (if you read the links COOLED DOWN is 40 degress with a quick read thermometer). I would bet most "civilians" think cooled down is 70 degrees or so. (really).
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011

  2. As a followup to a number of similar questions I presented a real life situation I found myself in.

    b]As as test, a way to reinforce this lesson I will present a situation I was in a month ago at a friends' Memorial Service. A wine maker and great chef, so his widow had catered a huge buffet, she spared no expense for her 80 guests.

    I got to the Memorial Service at his house at 1pm. People stood around talking and munching. All sorts of platters of cheese, cold cuts, different types of cooked shirmp, cheese spreads, pastries, olive platters, cold vegetables were out... The food was probably laid out about Noon. People talked and we waited for the stragglers to arrive. At 2:30 the Memorial Service began. It lasted about 40 minutes. Then everyone went inside and hung out, munching and drinking some of the man's wine.

    KNOWING that the food was prepared somewhere else, transported in cars to the location, laid out and Knowing about 3 1/2 hours had elapsed from the time it was laid out before people started chowing down what would YOU feel comfortable eating. What would you have not eaten (from what I described). What do you think Big ate from the buffet and what do you think he wisely passed on trying ?? ;-)

    Good reinforcement for the lessons taught above.

    And a further set of examples, the array of situations we were taught in chef school was pretty wild, these are pretty black and white if you will.

    Two more scenarios, like the kind presented to us in our Food Safety training classes:

    You are going to a picnic. Your wife made potato salad. It takes you an hour to get there, you get to the picnic site and all the food is laid out on a picnic table in the sun. It's almost 100 degrees out. You put your potato salad out. The picnic is a blast, but it's hot as hell... What would you eat from the buffet table if you got there just as all the food got laid out. What food would you eat from the buffet table say two hours later ?? What food would you toss at the end of the picnic ??

    You are in San Francisco at Fisherman's Wharf. You're hungry and see a restuarant has a line of food out for sale on the sidewalk under a canopy, they have small crab cocktails in plastic containers, with lemon wedges and cocktail sauce ready to eat. They also have cooked jumbo shrimp. The place is in a area protected from the sun and all product is sitting nestled in a big bed of shaved ice. When you pick up one of the containers to look it over (it's covered) you can tell it's cold. Would you buy this product ??

    (Two black and white situations - extremes for a good reason...
    (Answer to the Memorial Buffet Question:

    Big ate the vegetables, some of the sliced cheeses, the pastries, olives and cheeses spreads on crackers. Big at NONE of the 4 or 5 kinds of shrimp or assorted sliced meats and roulades that were laid out. Big figures the things he DID eat all are relatively safe at room temp. for more than 4 hours. The shrimp or cold cut meats are not.)
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011
  3. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits... Premium Member

    May 19, 2008
    Western MA
    In answer to the potato salad question.
    Yes, i would eat it right when it was first laid out...but NOT eat it after sitting 2 hours in the sun. And i WOULD toss it at the end of the day.
    Potato salad can go bad veeeery quickly..

    ETA: But i'm sure my answer was wrong ... [​IMG]

    *redhen- who has eaten some sccccary things in her day. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011
  4. DuckLady

    DuckLady ~~~Administrator~~~BYC Store Support Staff Member

    Jan 11, 2007
    NE Washington State
    Great thread.

    Food safety is so important as well as knowing about food borne illness.

    As a food service manager, I had to do a week long National Restaurant Association ServSafe Food Safety course with enough information to make you want to be tube fed the rest of your life.

  5. KenK

    KenK Songster

    Jan 23, 2011
    I would eat it all and let the devil take the hind most. That is unless the potato salad had eggs in it. In which case I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.
  6. Quote:That indeed was the one I had, everyone took that course before they graduated into any kitchen class.
  7. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    bigmike&nan :

    . Big at NONE of the 4 or 5 kinds of shrimp or assorted sliced meats and roulades that were laid out. Big figures the things he DID eat all are relatively safe at room temp. for more than 4 hours. The shrimp or cold cut meats are not.)[/b]

    Did everybody else there get sick and die?

    I'm following you, but I just use my best judgement which is probably less informed than yours.

    Pizza on the counter overnight? No problem for me. Shrimp on the counter for an entire afternoon? No thanks.​

  8. justbugged

    justbugged Head of the Night Crew for WA State

    Jan 27, 2009
    I understand the guidelines, but my experience is that most people would not get sick from food left out a little longer than recommended. Though if a person with limited or no immunity were to consume the food they may be sicked enough to even die from the food borne illness. Common sense is the I work here, but we both have very good immune systems.

    I can remember watching a show about 2 ladies that cleaned houses in the UK. Some of the houses were dirty enough to kill a healthy person, and yet the owners of the house were rarely if ever sick. I am much more cautious about food safety than some people I know, but I don't sweat the small time gaps on most things. The potato salad would have been a toss at my house though.
  9. Squishy

    Squishy Songster

    Feb 2, 2011
    Awww... Thank You Wise Sensei for thinking of me and those who have to suffer through my meals [​IMG] It was very considerate of you.

    You are too right.... Who wants to be responsible for making someone else suffer sickness when really you want the food to make them happy??

    People do die from Samonella and E-coli poisoning all the time. Plus just being responsible for someone else feeling bad is reason enough.

    My mom took a Servsafe course as well many years back... and so I do believe you that it is really important even in your home to not cross contaminate food items, to heat meats to the proper internal temperature, and to store them at a proper temperature and in a timely manner.

    Just because someone might be used to swallowing colonies of E-coli, doesen't mean guests at their table would be. People usually don't show the signs of illness until they are home already, and then they are often too polite to call and yell at you for making them spend the night in the bathroom.

    Thanks Mike for all the great info... this will serve as a great reminder to be safe when I'm cooking this holiday [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Ooo Ooo! In answer to the Memorial service quiz in the second post... I guessed you ate the cheese and the veggies [​IMG] That's all I would eat no matter the safety considerations [​IMG]

    At the Picnic.... is my potato salad making wife pretty? [​IMG] Not to hurt her feelings... but I don't like things labeled as salads that aren't like a garden salad. I guess I'm going to get a divorce now, huh? [​IMG] You didn't list what other things were at the picnic to choose from.... but I would definitely throw about everything away after the picnic... because of the heat and because of ants and flies getting in the food. Who knows what kind of bacteria and magoty-larvae they left behind... it would grow in the food in your fridge (because the bads can survive in the cold temps once they are established!) into mutant magoty-larvae spawn... only to get eaten by someone out of the fridge without proper re-heating... then the mutanty-larvae would make their way down the eaters throat to worm their wriggly way through the persons stomach and hatch into..... [​IMG] Ok.. I'm done with that scenario now!! [​IMG]

    On the outside seafood sale from the coolers with ice.... I would feel very safe with those! They sound nice... you know, if I ate seafood... (I think I might like Lobster but I don't remember).

    So Wise Sensei... Question. I didn't realize I was doing a naughty till now.... I always do the bad thing of packaging up food while it's still warm and fresh from being cooked. I suppose I always thought the fridge was sufficient to get the temp down fast enough [​IMG]

    So.. say I make my spaghetti sauce (no meat, marinara type sauce)... throw all of what I'm not serving myself on my plate into a container.... Do I HAVE to *whines* make up a cold bath for it.... or couldn't I just throw the sauce into the freezer instead until I'm done eating and then move it to the fridge? Pwease couldn't I just freeze it?? *blink* *blink*

  10. ChooksinChoppers

    ChooksinChoppers Songster

    Mar 24, 2011
    Ocala, Florida.
    The teacher/chef I had for my serve safe course told us that there is no such thing as a stomach flu and since then I have had so many people argue with me that there is [​IMG] I have given up trying to tell them otherwise.
    Anything that causes vomiting and diahrea (sp?) is from food , water or bacteria on the hands or other objects transfered to the mouth in some shape or form. So, when travelling overseas, my freind said to me "It couldnt have been the food or water because I only ate salad and drank bottled water the whole time" I had to ask her....what did they wash the lettuce/salad with? Yep, she got sick as a dog but doesnt believe me to this day.
    The list of illnesses from different foods is HUGE and most of them are unpronouncable [​IMG]

    A big one most people forget is left over baked potaoes! Cool em down and refridgerate asap!

    Now, dear Sensei, I have to give you a [​IMG] for making an already germaphobic Squishy even more so [​IMG]
    There is no way I can keep the kitchen clean enough for her and she uses paper towels on the counter before she sets her plate on it (after said plate gets microscopic inspection first of course) I bleach my dish rags on a regular basis and the cutting board and knife especially when handling raw meats or cutting melon. speaking of which did you know you should cut off the skin and then clean knife and cutting board before letting the fruit touch it again? And always, always keep it chilled. Everything at a picnic or buffet should be on ice or kept heated to correct temp.
    Keep the hot food HOT and the cold food COLD

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