so….what’s your poison?

your-poison

No, seriously.  Do you think you’ve been poisoned? 

Did you know that next to the common cold, food poisoning is our most prevalent infection, afflicting perhaps as many as 90 million North Americans? (thank you, Readers Digest!)  The actual number may be far higher since food poisoning signs mimic flu and diarrhea symptoms.  Even with government inspections, safer packaging, refrigeration and all the chemical preservatives, food poisoning is on the rise (mostly in children and the elderly).

Botulism is poisoning by a micro-organism similar to that causing tetanus.  Found in home canned goods, improperly packed and sterilized canned products and contaminated vegetables, fruits, fish and condiments.  Within 18-36 hours, double vision and difficulty with muscular coordination, including chewing, swallowing, breathing and speech, set in.

Salmonella is widespread coming from bacteria found in hormone injected beef and poultry.  Within 12-48 hours, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting and fever, set in, lasting 1 to 4 days.

E-coli is a bacterial infection that attacks the kidneys and sickens as many as 20,000 Americans each year and kills several hundred.  Most symptoms include bloody diarrhea and vomiting.  In severe cases, seizure, paralysis and even death.  Symptoms appear within 24-48 hours.

Lysteria Monocytogenes is an organism found in the soil and intestinal tracts of humans, animals, insects and birds.  Infection usually follows eating contaminated dairy products and raw vegetables.  Adults may develop meningitis, with headache, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting.  Eye inflammation and swollen lymph nodes sometimes develop.  Symptoms usually appear in 8-24 hours.

Trichinella is found in raw or undercooked pork that has been fed contaminated meat.  Within 24-48 hours a person will experience fever and diarrhea with pain and respiratory problems.

Don’t have time for all that nonsense?  Use the two hour rule in your home to keep your family safe.  Refrigerate or freeze all perishables within two hours of purchase or preparation.  If the weather is hot, like it is here in sunny AZ, then you should reduce that time to one hour and use a cooler for perishables.  The highest risk foods are meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, dairy products and mayonnaise mixtures.  It’s easy to keep a cooler in your car for those long treks to and from the store to keep your groceries safe.  Don’t forget to ask for a bag of ice at the checkout and just place it on top of your items, if you don’t want to open it up.

Remember….heat and humidity greatly increase the risk of food spoilage, so never store food in warm places, like near the stove or refrigerator.  And I KNOW you keep your cleaning products WAY FAR AWAY from all your food too, don’t you!!!??

Wash your produce, keep your meats cold (and don’t defrost at room temperature, please….use the bottom shelf of the fridge) and keep your family safe this summer!

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just a ‘grillin…..

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Backyard grilling!  It wouldn’t be summertime without it! 

ALTHOUGH……………… (leave it to me to throw a wet blanket on your picnic)

Grilling – whether by gas flame or charcoal or even an electric element – demands temperatures 4 – 6 times higher than can be reached in your oven!  And unfortunately, the high heat that makes that wonderful caramelization and browning has a less desirable aspect…..

Your food may become charred before the inside is cooked through!

burnt-chicken[source]

Another hazard is cancer causing substances called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which form when the fat from the meat drips onto hot coals and then sneak into your food through the smoke.  HCA’s or heterocyclic amines, are created from heating meat, poultry or fish to a too high temperature and have been linked to cancer.

But before I totally destroy your backyard plans….here are ways to minimize the cancer risks for you and your family:

  1. Avoid flare-ups, since burning juice or fat can produce harmful smoke.  If smoke from dripping fat is too heavy, move the food to another section of the grill, rotate the grill or reduce the heat.
  2. Cook meat until it is done without charring it.  Remove any charred pieces — don’t eat them.
  3. Don’t place the heat source directly under the meat.  For example, place coals slightly to the side so the fat doesn’t drip on them.  Keep a water bottle handy for coals that become hot or flare up.
  4. Cover the grill with punctured aluminum foil before you cook.  The foil protects the food from the smoke and fire.
  5. Keep meat portions small so they don’t have to spend as long on the grill.
  6. Defrost frozen meats before grilling.  {source}

Grilling is best reserved for quick cooking foods, like fish or even thinner cuts of meat and poultry.  How about throwing some vegetables , such as eggplant, zucchini, peppers or mushrooms on that grill?  Even fruit like, apples, peaches or bananas are great grilled!

Now, get outside and have some spring-time-can’t-wait-for-summertime, BACKYARD FUN!!

sunshine