Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The worst dinner night of the week

The worst dinner of the week, is it Wednesday? No, it is leftover night! 

I have a love / hate relationship with leftover night. I think most people do. It is nice to have dinner already made, it is most probably something you like since you already ate it once, but that is the kicker right there, you already ate it once.  

Something mystical happens once the food enters the fridge and then spends the night, It turns into something that I would just rather not have again. I have started being really mindful of how much food I prepare. I try and make perhaps a little less, instead of erring on the side of more. And filling bellies that are still not full or wanting "seconds" with a salad - which usually ends up being better for them anyway. 

So after we had leftovers for dinner tonight, then it was the worst part of leftover night..... clean out the fridge time. Yuck! I had sloppy joe meat in there that could have walked itself to the kitchen sink!

So I got to thinking about food safety (and how extremely unsafe that was). The Food $ense website has some excellent information on food safety. The facts about how many people get sick each year and how many die can be really scary, but the great news is, food safety is something that we have complete control over. 

There are three main ways that food becomes contaminated - 
  • Time / Temperature Abuse - Food can already be contaminated when you buy it from the store. If it hasn't be store properly bacteria may have already started to grow. Also leaving food out once you get home from the store is another example of Time / Temperature abuse.  You can't do much about how the store takes care of your food, but you have complete control over how quickly you get it put away once you get home. 
  • Cross - Contamination - Cross contamination is when you use a knife or cutting board ( or any kitchen utensil) to prepare raw meat and then use it again to prepare something that will be ready to eat, like a salad. This is where great clean kitchen habits can save you almost wholly from this problem. Use separate cutting surfaces for raw meats and items that will be directly consumed without cooking. Be sure you sterilize your knives with hot soapy water or you can use a mixture of one capful of bleach to one gallon water. 
  • Poor Hygiene Habits - This means you and me; are we clean and tidy and following good habits?Are we washing our hands correctly (even our nails)? Do we have our hair pulled back? And once we start touching food have we stopped touching our face and other non-foody things? 
How long does food last once it is in the fridge? A good rule of thumb is 3-4 days. It might seem like a short amount of time, but it is safe. Are you a little bit more picky, or perhaps detail-oriented? Here is a much longer more detailed list of how long things are good in the fridge. 

We are quickly coming up on leftover season with all the holiday meals and get-togethers. Here is an excellent website that has holiday leftover rules.  Nothing could be worse than food borne illness during the holidays. You certainly don't want your party to be memorable for that reason. 

Remember, you are the master of your own food safety fate. Following 4 simple food safety principles is an easy way to control bacteria in our food and prevent foodborne illness.

The 4 food safety principles, known as Fight BAC! are:  Clean, Cook, Separate and Chill