The Importance of Storing Food at the Correct Temperature

Storing food at the incorrect temperature not only causes it to spoil faster, but it can also result in food poisoning. For caterers, restaurants and commercial kitchens, storing food properly is essential, as salmonella and other bacteria can quickly form undetected, posing a huge threat to guests.

Storing Food

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Food poisoning is most commonly caused by bacteria from perishables that have not been stored, handled or cooked correctly. One of the biggest issues with food that has turned toxic is that it can still look, taste and smell as if it was fresh, yet the consequences can be dire, and in some severe cases even fatal.

Entering the Temperature Danger Zone

High-risk food should always be stored at 5 degrees Celsius or above 60 degrees, as anything in between is considered to be the danger zone. In the so-called danger zone bacteria multiplies at its fastest and can often go undetected.

Commercial kitchens need to keep close tabs on all high-risk food and make sure that they adhere to temperature guidelines at all times. In doing so they will also reduce waste, and considering that there is so much hunger in the world, this wastage should be minimised as much as possible. By staying out of the danger zone, less food will be thrown away in the long run.

Understanding High-Risk Food

High-risk foods are those that bacteria will grow on quickly, and they include raw and cooked chicken, meat and fish and dairy products. Foods that have any of these ingredients in them are all considered high-risk and should be treated with the utmost care. Cooked foods such as pasta and rice can also be high-risk, as can prepared salads, pizzas, sandwiches and other perishable ready meals.

Commercial refrigeration is essential in any establishment that serves food to the public, and a company such as Fridge Freezer Direct Ltd can be relied upon to provide you with the perfect solutions for storing foods at their ideal temperature. High-risk food can then be stored properly and the worry of waste, poisoning and other negative factors is hugely reduced.

Monitoring Your Food

Commercial kitchens need to pay careful attention not only to temperature but also to the way they store their food and what the labelling says. In the UK confusion over labelling is one of the contributing factors that leads to food being thrown away, and for a catering kitchen it’s essential that food is well labelled.

Food that has been frozen and thawed should never be refrozen, and raw food should be stored completely separately to cooked food. If you clearly label containers in your kitchen, there will be no room for confusion and food can be stored safely. This is especially important if food is bought in bulk and then repackaged, and your kitchen manager should know what temperature perishables need to be stored at in order for them to remain uncontaminated.

By keeping food at the correct temperature, maintaining the cold chain and adhering to correct packaging, labelling and storing guidelines, you can avoid a number of issues and you’ll also reduce waste and save money.

Corporate Food & Human Backlash

Honey Laundering

The current collapse of the world financial system has revealed some structural problems in our national economy that have flourished over a period of decades as corporate interests bought politicians and lobbyists to craft legislation to remove legal roadblocks to mass theft and market manipulation. And despite some changes in the D.C. political landscape, our government remains apparently helpless to do anything about corporate malfeasance on any level. With all the bad economic news dominating the public consciousness, some issues in the food supply sector are having a difficult time being properly correlated and attended to despite the serious level of danger they present to public health.

The food supply issues didn’t begin with the market manipulations on Wall Street and from there to exchanges all over the world. Though for many people the first alarms went off as the CDS fraud crashed the economy in 2008 and the financial players went looking for other markets to wreak havoc on. They seized on commodities – staple foods from the agricultural sector increasingly dominated by multinational corporations like Monsanto, ADM and Cargill. As a traceable beginning in 2008 to what this year became the “Arab Spring” movement across North Africa and spreading to the Middle East and southern Asia, food riots broke out in Egypt and Syria and portions of India as well as elsewhere when people could no longer afford to feed themselves and their families. Things have only gotten worse in the years since, and Americans are slowly waking up.

In 2011 a full quarter of the U.S. population are dependent on food stamps. As unemployment keeps on rising, the government strangely keeps slashing the food stamp budget to appease nutty Republican radicals who insist those hardest hit by the Great Recession are just “lazy” and undeserving of aid that might require corporations and billionaires to pay taxes. Why one of the political parties in our nation believes that Americans will quietly and without complaint starve to death in the streets in order to protect billionaires from paying as much of their income in taxes as their chauffeur does has never been explained by the financial sector’s pundits at the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. Major cognitive disconnect.

But serious food supply issues encompass much more than just market manipulation and governmental paralysis. Consider some of these issues while attempting to get a picture of how dire the overall situation is…

Honey Laundering: China’s at it again – Adulterating pet and human foods with melamine wasn’t bad enough – though one corporate scapegoat was executed by the Chinese government hoping to save its place as cheap ingredients supplier to the world – the latest food scam involves honey. Not just fake honey in those little bee-shaped plastic bottles, Chinese honey brokers are creating honey by mixing sugar water, malt sweeteners, corn/rice syrup, barley malt and a variety of unrefined sugars. Failure to police storage requirements has resulted in heavy metal contamination as well, primarily lead.

If you’ve been thinking about beekeeping for honey (and handy pollinators), this is the year to get busy on it. Extension services in many rural counties offer literature, evening classes, and instructions on building hives. Agents often know who in the area builds hives for sale, and aren’t shy of giving out that information. Many people who are trying hard to eat better and healthier are being taken in by the Chinese honey scam, and big food processors using that fake honey in their supposedly ‘natural’ food lines are risking their markets. Grow your own honey or buy locally from someone honest.

Time to re-engineer the meatpacking sector – Late July brought the second largest tainted meat recall so far, when Cargill’s meat packing division recalled ~36 million pounds of ground turkey products tainted with a multi-drug resistant strain of Salmonella. The biggest recall was in 2008, when a slaughterhouse in California recalled 143 million pounds of beef due to allowing downer cows into the mix. The dangers to public health from e.coli, salmonella, listeria and other bacteria, and from adulterants and contaminates are high, yet our government doesn’t give the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] the power to force food recalls. Companies have to do this voluntarily, and they don’t often volunteer until people start dying and CDC tracks the source down.

If your family eats meat, now is the time to seriously consider raising your own or contracting with a neighbor who raises meat animals. A side of beef from a calf pastured for a year, dressed whole chickens raised happily free range, maybe rabbit stew meat, a slab of locally smoked bacon and/or ham… buying from known sources or doing it yourself could easily save your family’s lives. The more that control of our commercial food supply gets concentrated into the greedy hands of a few, the more danger is present overall. Avoid it like the plague it truly is.

The Nation has a good article looking at How change is going to come in the food system despite united resistance of the big corporate players to cater to public demands for better, less adulterated and far less fattening foods. There is a lot of good information in this article’s analysis to arm yourself with when next you try arguing with a friend, relative or acquaintance about the importance of healthy food and the severe shortage of it in our commercial food supply.

And finally, the good news. The New York Times informs us that vegetable gardens are booming in a fallow economy. We homesteaders have of course known this all along – and have done more than our share to get more people digging and grow the local markets – but we should always welcome mainstream coverage that helps to spread awareness. Recent movement in many states to allow the use of food stamps at farmer’s markets and bulk purchases straight from farmers are helping more people to get more and better food than they could purchase in the grocery store.

Many localities are also sponsoring seed exchanges through the Lions or Ruritan, sometimes through local Chambers of Commerce, 4-H and FFA clubs at high schools. These have committees in charge of getting open-pollinated seeds from local gardeners and farmers, packaging them, and then distributing them free in the late winter and early spring to local residents planning their season’s garden crops. Local schools and civic clubs are offering gardening classes and contacts to suppliers of tool exchanges, equipment like chicken coops and bee hives, and farmers who sell chicks, calves, kids and kits to those wishing to raise their own meat animals. Local butchers are making a comeback, and in many states the Extension Service offers classes all the way up to Master Gardening certification. So get busy, and get your neighbors busy making best use of all these developing local alternatives to Big Ag and Big Food, Inc. We will be a much happier and healthier nation for it, and probably much smarter as a people for our awareness and direct involvement in this most important aspect of everybody’s lives.

“Food Junkie” Takes New Meaning

Food junkieWith the Thanksgiving feast now reduced to composted leftovers and the month-long year-end celebration of indulgence ahead of us, it should come as no big surprise to most that there’s a reason we humans have such a shortage of dietary willpower when it comes to all those sweets and goodies on the seasonal menu. Consider, for instance, chocolate.

Deep, rich dark or creamy light, chocolate is one of those indulgent ‘comfort food’ items humans find it very difficult to avoid. All chocolate derives from cocoa, which has recently been found to offer cardioprotective benefits – if the sugar in it doesn’t end up making us obese first, that is. The specific agent for protection of the heart from low oxygen levels is epicatechin, a flavonoid and antioxidant in cocoa. Epicatechin acts by binding to opioid receptors in our nervous system.

Opioid? As in opium? That’s right, opium. No wonder we often consider a fondness for chocolate to be akin to an addiction… it IS addictive! And the substance used to treat opium addictions – naloxone, which preemptively binds to opium receptors – has been shown to reduce cravings for chocolate.

It may be more surprising that many – or even most – of our most popular foods and additives also bind to opioid receptors, and some even stimulate our brains to release natural endorphins to stimulate a narcotic pleasure response. These ‘food opiates’ are found most heavily concentrated in wheat (5 separate gluten exorphins) and dairy products, but all three forms of sugar – glucose, sucrose and fructose – also act on opioid receptors and can elicit addictive behaviors. Even worse, we humans begin our addiction early in life – human breast milk, in fact, contains actual morphine!

Sayer Ji explains all this in an excellent article for Wake Up World, Do Hidden Opiates In Our Food Explain Food Addictions? Compiling a list of common foods found by researchers to contain substances that either bind to opioid receptors or stimulate the production of endogenous morphines, we find that meat and fish proteins are broken down by digestion into opioid substances, as does the albumin in rice. Spinach contains two opioid peptides, and the oil cafestrol in both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee contains potent morphine-like binders.

Do check Ji’s article and try to bear in mind the whys and wherefores of food cravings as we move into the craving-saturating holiday season. You never know, an understanding of how and why these cravings exist and seem so difficult to overcome by sheer willpower just might help make our January withdrawals a little easier to tolerate. Though shedding the extra pounds gained from early winter indulgences will still be as difficult as it’s ever been. Good luck with that, and good feasting to all the readers of Wise Living Journal!