Friday, February 15, 2008

Food Safety Tips When Traveling Or In Case Of A Disaster

Due to the length of this article, it will not contain any recipes, bar mixes, just information, tips on food handling.

If you are traveling with perishable food, place it in a cooler with ice or freezer packs. Have plenty of ice or frozen gel-packs on hand before starting to pack food. If you take meat, poultry, eggs, for eating on the road or to cook at your vacation spot, plan to keep everything on ice in your cooler.

Keep raw meat and poultry wrapped separately from cooked foods, or foods meant to be eaten raw such as fruits. Limit the times the cooler is opened. Open and close the lid quickly. Pack perishable foods directly from the refrigerator or freezer into the cooler. If the cooler is only partially filled, pack the remaining space with more ice. Limit the times the cooler is opened. Open and close the lid quickly.

Remember to keep the cooler in a shady spot. Keep it covered with a blanket, tarp or poncho, preferably one that is light in color to reflect heat.

Bring along bottled water or other canned or bottled drinks. Always assume that streams and rivers are not safe for drinking. If camping in a remote area, bring along water purification tablets or equipment.

Do not let perishable food sit out while swimming or fishing. Remember, food sitting out for more than 2 hours is not safe. The time frame is reduced to just 1 hour if the outside temperature is above 90 °F.

If you do fishing and are lucky the big one did not get away, gut and clean the fish as soon as they are caught. Wrap both whole and cleaned fish in watertight plastic and store on ice. Keep 3-4 inches of ice on the bottom of the cooler. Alternate layers of fish and ice. After cooking, eat within 3-4 days. Make sure the raw fish stays separate from cooked foods.

Crabs, lobsters and other shellfish must be kept alive until cooked. Store in a bushel or laundry basket under wet burlap. Crabs and lobsters are best eaten the day they are caught. Live oysters can keep 7-10 days. Mussels and clams, 4-5 days.

Caution: Be aware of the potential dangers of eating raw shellfish. This is especially true for persons with liver disorders or weakened immune systems. Warning, no one should eat raw shellfish.

If you go to the beach take along only the food that can be eaten to avoid having leftovers. If grilling, make sure local ordinances allow it. Bring the cooler! Partially bury it in the sand, cover with blankets, and shade with a beach umbrella.

WASHING UTENSILS Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes, and utensils (including can openers) with soap and water, using hot water if available. Rinse and then sanitize them by boiling in clean water or immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water (or the cleanest, clearest water available

Thoroughly wash countertops with soap and water, using hot water if available. Rinse and then sanitize them by applying a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water (or the cleanest, clearest water available). Allow air-drying.

WARNING BACTERIA Bacteria may be present on products when you purchase them. Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs are not sterile. Neither is fresh produce such as lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, and melons.

Foods, including safely cooked, ready-to-eat foods, can become cross contaminated with bacteria transferred from raw products, meat juices or other contaminated products, or from food handlers with poor personal hygiene.

Botulism, a life-threatening illness caused by the bacteria Clostridium outline, were reported in the United States. Frozen, fully cooked products were suspected of causing these illnesses. The Food Safety and Inspection Service advises all consumers to handle frozen, fully-cooked products in accordance with these food safety recommendations.

Before buying frozen, fully cooked products carefully inspect the container or package. If the package is punctured, torn, partially opened, or damaged in any other way that might expose the contents to the outside environment, do NOT purchase the product.

Do not purchase frozen products that appear to have thawed and refrozen. Reject all swollen or gassy containers or spoiled foods.

Buy food from reputable dealers, with a known record of safe handling. Buy frozen products only if they are frozen solid and only if stored in the freezer case. Observe any use-by or sell-by dates on the package.

When you open the container, inspect the product. Do not use products that are discoloured, mouldy, or have an off odour. Do not use products that spurt liquid or foam when the container is opened. Do not taste the product to determine if it is safe. Follow the preparation instructions on the product label.

Handling Possibly Contaminated Products

Report any suspect commercial food products to your local health department. If a suspect food is opened in your kitchen, thoroughly scrub the can opener or other utensils, containers, counters, etc., that might have contacted the food or its container. Discard any sponges or cloths used in the cleanup. Wash your hands thoroughly. Promptly launder any clothing that might have been splattered upon.

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin. Symptoms of botulism include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. The illness can cause paralysis, respiratory failure and death. Symptoms usually occur from 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food. Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a physician.

Food Safety Tips for Emergencies.

Consumers have a key role to play in keeping food safe. Prepare an emergency kit for your home and even one for your vehicle. In the event of a disaster you may be on your own for 3 –5 days.

A kit should contain a 3-day supply of water. You should have four litres of water per day, per person, for drinking cooking and clean up. A 3-5 day supply of non-perishable food in sealed containers. Proper utensils should also be included. Other items needed would be bottle opener, disinfectant soap and bleach, dishes, a portable stove, with enough fuel to last 3-5 days matches, leather gloves for handling hot material and a folding saw or axe in the event there is firewood available for warmth.

Beside food, utensils, etc. warm blankets, flashlight and a battery operated radio should also to packed.

In the event of a natural disaster or emergency incident, be sure to carefully inspect all food items and do not eat any food you think may be unsafe. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out. Check food in your refrigerators and freezers for signs of spoilage, and ask retailers and restaurateurs to explain how food has been kept safe during power failures. Be prepared with these food safety tips.

If your traveling or if a disaster strikes you should know how to handle your food supply, what you need to know to keep your family safe, Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness. The illness can cause paralysis, respiratory failure and death. Symptoms usually occur from 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food.

Families have a key role in keeping food safe. Prepare an emergency kit for your home and even one for your vehicle. In the event of a disaster you may be on your own for 3 –5 days.

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