January 2, 2020

Food Safety: Here is What NOT to do When Keeping Your Food Safe.

Food Safety.
Safe Food Handling.


I love to cook and bake.  And as my husband will tell you, I am a stickler .... a BIG stickler ... about food safety and safe food handling.  After all, who wants to fall victim to food poisoning due to improper food handling?

Last month I posted about food safety and safe food handling, you can read the post here.   Well, upon doing a bit of research for a follow-up post, I came across a prime example of what NOT to do if you want to keep your food safe and free from spoilage and food poisoning.  Take a look at this ...

I came across information about a so-called Soup Swap put on by a San Francisco Bay Area gym.   On the Soup Swap day, members brought in 5 containers of soup they had made at home.  Anyone who brought in 5 containers of soup could choose 5 other containers of soup, contributed by other gym members, to take home.

And you probably know where I'm going with this, right?

The handling of this Soup Swap is a textbook example of what NOT to do if you want to keep food safe from spoilage and food poisoning.  First off, we don't know how the soup was handled in the guy members' kitchens in which it was prepared.  But the major issue is how the Soup Swap was handled at the gym, based on the photo I found:



Refrigeration for the soup?  None.  As you can see from the photo, the soup was left on a table at room temperature, and perhaps for all day while the gym was open.  As I mention below, The USDA recommends that food requiring heat or refrigeration (all of this soup would require refrigeration unless it was properly canned and sealed in a canner) be discarded if it sits in the "Danger Zone" - above 40*F and below 140*F - for longer than 2 hours.   And while some of the soup is in mason jar containers, as someone who cans, I can tell you that at least some of these soups appear to be not properly canned and sealed in a canner.  Rather, the mason jars appear to be simply used as a transportation container.

I have no way of knowing if anyone got sick from eating this soup.  But clearly there was zero consideration given to proper and safe storing temps for the soup at this gym.

Recap:  Proper Food Handling and Storage Temperatures


And as far as proper food handling and storing temps?  The USDA recommends that all foods requiring refrigeration be maintained at 40*F or less, and that foods that must be maintained hot be held at a temperature of 140*F or higher.  The in between area - above 40*F and below 140*F - is known as the "Danger Zone" for foods that require either refrigeration or a hot temperature for safety.  In the Danger Zone, the amount of food bacteria - including food bacteria that can lead to food poisoning - can double in a mere 20 minutes!

So don't leave leftovers on the kitchen counter for hours at time.  The USDA recommends that food requiring heat or refrigeration be discarded if it sits in the Danger Zone for longer than 2 hours.  Reduce that to 1 hour if food is sitting in an area that is 90*F or warmer.  And make sure your refrigerator consistently maintains a cold enough temperature.  Studies estimate more than half of home refrigerators are maintained at an unsafe, too high temperature.

For more information, refer to this handy Basics for Handling Food Safety fact sheet from the USDA.

Happy ... and safe! ... baking and cooking everyone!

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About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

2 comments:

  1. Gross! The green stuff in part filled jars looks nasty!

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    Replies
    1. That is the first soup that caught my eye. Maybe a split pea soup? I just still can't believe letting these soups stay out on a table at room temperature. Food poisoning waiting to happen. mrf

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