Thursday, December 24, 2009

Food Sanitation At Home

The Wild and Wacky World of Cheffy
Somewhere in the Hills of South Carolina
June 2001
Food and Sanitation

Not a lot of rambling, right to the info...this might be a long 
one...In this issue I am getting out of the formalities of talking 
semi-professionally and educated, I am writing this one like I talk, 
have a lot to say, a lot of info to give and am writing like I know 
best...from the heart of your dear ol' Cheffy-boy...I have received 
quite a few emails concerning food and sanitation thus this 
newsletter...I will follow up this newsletter with a recipe 
newsletter within the next week or so, if you have some recipes that 
you want me to try to be included in the newsletter just send me an 

Home versus the work place

I am by no means your cleanest guy in the neighborhood, partly from 
being single, and partly from being lazy...LOL...but there are some 
things that I do want to convey because being safe in your home is 
just as important as being safe in a commercial kitchen. Although at 
home I am somewhat lax about food sanitation, it is one of the most 
important things in my work environment. 

Clean versus Sanitized

What is the difference between being clean and being sanitized??

Being clean is a state, just as being sanitized is...I can clean a 
counter, I can clean a cast iron skillet, I can clean my stove top, 
but does my cleaning these things stop bacteria from growing??? 
Absolutely not!!! Being sanitized can only occur by using a chemical 
that is going to stop bacterial growth. Now this can be as simple as 
washing your hands after you smoke, touch a contaminated surface, go 
to the bathroom, brush the hair out of your face...bacteria and germs 
in general are not happy unless they are multiplying, and when you 
take the time to sanitize your areas and your body, you are making 
these germs unhappy individuals...and that is exactly what they are 
is individuals until the handler (meaning us) gives the bacteria and 
other germs room and a reason to migrate and multiply.

There are three major factors to consider in sanitation.
1) Food- it's safe condition, preparation, and storage
2) People- The sanitation of the people preparing and serving the 
food as well as those consuming it.
3) Facilities- Is the food prepared in a safe environment? Is it 
served in a safe manner?

Without going into details about certain foodborne anomalies such as 
salmonella and botulism (because that would be another story 
altogether), I want to explain a little bit about bacteria growth, 
which effects both salmonella and botulism.

Bacteria grows between certain temperatures rapidly. There are many 
foods that fit into this category, but the basic rule of thumb is any 
protein...meat, poultry, wild game, boiled or baked
potatoes, soy-based products; any dairy...shelled eggs, milks, 
cheeses, curds, butter...the list could go on and on....

The general gist of what I am trying to say is this. Bacteria 
survives and grows between 45 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, Between 60 
and 120 degrees, bacteria goes crazy...sometimes multiplying 6 or 7 
times its normal growth and right around 99-101 degrees it goes 

There are a lot of things to consider as far as food sanitation is 
concerned and I will address a bunch of these at chefmikesworld in 
the near future, but for the sake of all of us I am going to spare 
this info and just get down to more specific details that we can use 
at home...


One of the most common products available to the homebody is one of 
the more effective ways to sanitize your housewares. Bleach anything 
you question and rinse it off in the hottest water you can produce. I 
especially recommend this with cutting boards and kitchen utensils 
that have touched chicken or seafood, using an anti-bacterial soap or 
gloves when handling either of these or other foods that are 
considered to be potentially hazardous and always be alert and beware 
of food products, they can be very dangerous if not handled properly. 
The rule of thumb for making a sanitizing solution with bleach and 
water is one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water.

When do I throw something out...?

If it moves...chuck it... ha-ha (unless it's grits...ha ha...they are 
supposed to move...**Cheffy says as he is laughing out loud**)

Read labels, expiration dates and don't take chances. Some helpful 
hints are:

Watch you dairy products. Check out the expiration dates. Most dairy 
is good for 3-5 days beyond the expiration date. 

I have gotten a lot of emails about using eggs and not being sure 
about them. Here are some things that I do to make sure that I am 
using fresh eggs. When I buy eggs, I pull eggs from the very back of 
the shelf. Grocery stores rotate their stock putting the older 
product in front. You will often see someone looking to see if the 
eggs are cracked, but not too many check the dates. 

If you have eggs that have been in the fridge and you need to use an 
egg yolk for a frosting or some type of emulsion sauce that calls for 
fresh egg yolks, my advice is to take an egg and put it in a cup of 
cold water, making sure the egg is covered entirely. The egg is 
porous, allowing air in and carbon monoxide out. So what happens is 
that the longer the egg has the opportunity to absorb oxygen the 
larger the air pocket will be within the shell. I put the egg in the 
water, if the egg lays on its side, it is a relatively safe bet that 
your egg is pretty fresh and safe. If it stands on edge with either 
tip raising up, this means that it has a good amount of air in it and 
is not as fresh. This does not mean that the egg is bad by no means, 
it just means that it is not as fresh. If it does stand on end, I 
will crack the egg open and examine the egg white. If the egg white 
has any cloudiness to it at all I chuck it. I want a clear egg white.

Going with this thought. I do not use any egg based product that has 
been brought to room temperature from a cold state. If it attained 
room temp that means that it has been setting out a while, thus 
remaining in the danger zone for some time. I am talking about things 
like hollandaise, mayonaisse, some salad dressings, etc. If it is a 
freshly opened jar of mayonaisse or salad dressing that is an 
exception to the rule, as long as they were already at room 
temperature before being opened.

Buying meats, poultry and seafood
This can be tricky. For the most part, your larger supermarkets are 
pretty good about maintaining a safe environment. Although Cheffy did 
get someone in trouble at our local supermarket not too long ago. The 
meat cutter cut up some chicken for another customer, didn't wear any 
gloves and then without washing his hands came out to help me...I 
asked him if he disliked the gloves and he gave me a smart ass answer 
("Yeah, I wear 'em when I can") Needless to say I went to another 
supermarket and notified his boss before I left...was kinda ticked. 
But anyway...I am just making a point, you need to be aware of things 
that cause bacteria to multiply and someone that deals with meats, 
seafood and poultry are the largest carriers if they are not 
religious about being sanitation minded.

Read Labels...I have been to some places where they change the 
labelings on the package. If you pick up a pack of meat, seafood or 
poultry and there is more than one label on it (unless they are two 
separate labels) don't buy it. Some places will stick a label over 
another one to maintain a longer shelf life. This is illegal. They 
may put another label on the package, but it must not cover up the 
vital info on the original label. If you ever witness this please 
call your local DHEC office and report them, the worse case scenario 
is that someone can be hurt or killed by someone afraid to throw out 
a two dollar piece of meat or seafood.

Mark down corner...
Most supermarkets have them, once the meats reach an expiration date 
they are allowed to put them in a separate corner for quick sale but 
this must not exceed 48 hours of the original expiration date. 
Never...(and Cheffy means NEVER) buy any seafood or poultry from the 
mark down corner, it is only asking for potential hazards.

Riggy and the Germ...

A chef friend of mine from Panama City, Fla wrote a paper on the 
life of bacteria through the eyes of a germ that is comical in one 
sense yet very eye opening while attending culinary school. Riggy is 
working with Cheffy on one of his major projects and I really liked 
this paper He said it was ok if I included it in this newsletter.

Well, that is enough rambling for this issue. Like I mentioned in the 
beginning of the newsletter I will send out a newsletter with just 
recipes within the next week or so. As always I encourage all to send 
your questions, comments etc. would love to hear what you have to 

May Peace and Serenity find its way into your day today and everyday

Peace, Hugs and Cookies,

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