How NOT To Serve E. Coli

Summer is here, we are entertaining more often, we make things on the grill, food sits in the sun. My worst nightmare is for anyone to get sick from something I’ve served. Also (as K can attest to), I’m kind of picky about kitchen habits. So with that in mind, a brief reminder on how NOT to serve E. Coli:

* Keep your meat on one cutting board and your veggies on a different cutting board. Use separate knives as well. If you’re using the same knife, scrub it with soap and hot water before switching back and forth. Use a separate cutting board for raw meat and cooked meat.

* Wash your hands with soap and water a lot. Remember, if you touch stuff (salt shaker, stirring spoon, etc.) after touching raw meat, you’ll have to sanitize the “stuff” as well, so just wash your hands a lot. Wash your fruits and veggies with soap and water as well — a quick swipe under a running faucet isn’t going to do it. With conventional fruits and vegetables, washing will clean off a lot of the chemicals. With organic produce, this cleans off most of the fertilizers (which is commonly manure).

* Keep your counter clean. A simple vinegar and water spray is all you need. Countertop wipes (we like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day) are convenient and work well. Wipe up as you go along, especially if raw meat juices drip off cutting boards and onto counters.

* Chicken should never be pink inside and the juices should always run clear. If you’ve got high-quality pork, it can be pink and high-quality beef can be cooked rare. The lower quality your meat, the higher the possibility that unsavory stuff has happened to it on the way to your home. You get what you pay for so when you’re cookin’ meat, spring for high quality (preferably from a small, local farm).

* If you’re serving food outdoors and it will be in the sun for awhile, keep hot food hot and cold food (especially food with dairy) on ice. If your cold food has been catching rays all afternoon, it’s time to toss it.

* If you’re planning on infusing oils, canning or preserving, learn the proper steps and follow them! It’s not as easy as sticking a twig of fresh rosemary into a bottle of olive oil. That can make people sick.

* If something doesn’t taste right or you feel like it’s “off,” don’t eat it. Better safe than sorry.

* If you think you may have food poisoning, make note of everything you’ve eaten in the past 24 hours and contact your doctor immediately.

Enjoy your summer and be food poisoning-free. Don’t give your friends and family members something to kvetch over for the next 40 years (“Remember the summer of the bad potato salad? Ugh.”) Keep it clean, hot, cold and, oh yeah, wash your hands!

Photo courtesy of EGPhotoLog (SXC.hu)

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