Kitchen Safety Practices

Kitchen Safety Practices

Today is the last day for a while that we’re spending in the kitchen.  I have a few more safety practices I want to share with you today, so let’s dive in.

Previously, I mentioned a few tips on knives so just as a reminder – knives should be kept sharp.  Dull knives cause injury more often than sharp ones because when our knives get dull, we tend to use more pressure to cut through food.  You can sharpen your own knives with a whetstone, an electric grinder, or you can have them professionally sharpened by an expert.  One knife topic that causes much disagreement is which brand you should use.  While I have a certain brand I like to use, my advice to you is to spend a little time researching and a little money to get a good quality blade that feels good in your hand.  If you take care of it, it will last for years.  You don’t need to go out and buy a huge set of knives.  Most home cooks can get by with a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife for bread.  Never put knives in the dishwasher as this can dull them much quicker than handwashing.  And never leave knives in soapy dishwater because you might forget they are there and reach your hand down in the water and cut yourself.

Another topic I’ve talked about is cross-contamination.  I take a deeper dive into this in another post, which you can find here.  Just know that it’s a good idea to use separate cutting boards for raw meat and poultry and fruits and vegetables.  You should clean as you go, and never use utensils that have touched raw meat on cooked meat, or anything for that matter.  For example, if you use a spoon to stir raw chicken before putting it in the pan to cook, don’t use that same spoon to get it out of the pan as you can contaminate your already cooked chicken.

You’ll also want to rinse produce before consuming and wipe cans before opening.  Canned goods are typically stored in warehouses and critters, like mice, like to live in warehouses.  They can defecate on the cans and if you don’t wipe them down first, you can contaminate your food.  Another note on canned goods – it’s not a good idea to store half-used tomato products in the fridge in their cans, like tomato paste.  Instead, store the unused tomato paste in another container.  The reason for this is sometimes, the material used to seal cans can leach into the food and contaminate it.  Tomato products are very susceptible to this.

As for storing food items, make sure you properly label leftovers with dates.  You can either label it with the date you made it and then throw it out after 7 days.  Or, you can label it with the future date 7 days out to know when it’s time to throw it away.  Just pick one and go with it.  To thaw meat, do it in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or the microwave.  Never thaw foods in standing water or under running warm water as this can cause bacteria to grow.  Remember, bacteria thrive between 80 and 120 degrees.  Refrigerate meats while marinating and never re-use a marinade.  Finally, return food to the fridge or freezer quickly, within two hours of cooking.

Make sure and tie back your hair or wear a hat, for obvious reasons, and roll up loose sleeves.  Loose sleeves can cross-contaminate foods and they are also a good way to catch yourself on fire.  Also, be aware of the jewelry you wear while cooking.  Remove anything that can trap food particles such as watches with metal bands and rings with stones.  Remember to wash your hands often.  If you’re sick, don’t cook for others.  When I’m home, I rarely wear shoes, but you really should wear them in the kitchen and protect your piggies.  You’d hate to lose a toe because a knife slipped out of your hand.  Lastly, keep pets out of the kitchen.  Not only do you not want their hair in your food, but they can also easily get injured by hot food items, or they can cause injury to you if they get under your feet and trip you.

And speaking of fire, never try to put out a grease fire with water.  This is a HUGE no-no as the water will cause the grease to splatter and the fire to spread.  You can put out a grease fire with baking soda or better yet, a fire extinguisher.  If you burn yourself either with fire, steam, or simply a hot pan DO NOT USE BUTTER TO COVER IT!  The butter traps in the heat and can cause infection.  Rather, if the skin is unbroken, run the burn under cool water for at least 5 minutes.  Once the skin is cooled, you can use aloe vera to soothe it.  Don’t use ice or very cold water as this can damage the tissue.  For major burns, you likely need to visit the ER.  Don’t remove clothing that is stuck to the skin or try to peel away dead or blistered skin because this can create open wounds and make you more susceptible to infection.

Before jumping to the next topic, I have to tell you a quick story about my husband.  For those of you who know Chad, he is a sugar junkie.  The man would put sugar on top of his sugar.  One day, he was making some sort of dessert that called for cooking down sugar.  In case you don’t know, sugar burns are the worst!  It can get super hot and cause scarring.  So, for some reason, he decides that he needs to taste it.  Thankfully, he didn’t put the caramel in his mouth, but he touched it to his lip and immediately caused a blister.  When I got home and saw this blister, he then had to tell me the story of some crazy dessert he was making and that his lip was attacked by hot caramel.  If you look closely, you can still see the scar it left behind.  All that to say, be very careful when cooking sugar and that avoid getting it on your skin.  Good story, right?!?!  Moving on.

I also want to mention a few quick notes about the grocery store.  This is more for the ladies, when you grab a cart, don’t sit your purse down on the little plastic piece.  Instead, lift it up and put your purse on the wire.  Better yet, strap your purse to your body.  Why, you ask?  Babies in diapers sit on the little plastic part and as everyone knows, diapers leak.  And then you put your purse there…you get the picture.  While you are shopping, make sure you keep raw meats separated from fruits and veggies.  When you put your foods on the belt at checkout, try to keep these foods as separated as possible, and speak up if you need to.  Not everyone is going to be as well-informed as you now are, so don’t let the bagger put raw chicken in with your blueberries.

There are so many other tips and tricks I have in this area, but I don’t want to overwhelm you or gross you out more than you probably are so we’ll cover more topics like these in later posts.  But please let me know if you have any questions because I would love to hear from you!

 

Episode 6: All Things Skincare with Casey Crocker

Casey Crocker, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu badass who also happens to be my sister, joins the show today to talk about all things skincare.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Advice Casey would give to her 20-year-old self
  • Why you should ditch your face scrubs
  • How to take care of your skin no matter your age
  • Why sunscreen is a MUST
  • and more!

Resources mentioned:

Connect with Casey:

Connect with Me:

Please leave a Rating and Review:

If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to do a review on Apple Podcasts.  Reviews on Apple Podcasts are one of the best ways to get the word out about podcasts.

 

The Top 10 Staples for Your Arsenal

The Top 10 Staples for Your Arsenal

Before we get started, I want you to know that I in no way consider myself a professional chef, however, I have had training in safety and sanitation as well as hospitality management, so I have learned quite a lot along the way.  Most everything I’ve learned in the kitchen has been through trial and error.

I highly recommend investing in a few good cookbooks.  My personal recommendations are either of Julia Child’s and the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook.  What’s great about all three of these is that the authors teach you tried and true methods.  None of these authors would put their names on an inferior cookbook – you know the kind I’m talking about – the ones that pretty much just look good on your shelf but are of no real use.  The test of a truly dependable cookbook is how the pages look.  Like mine, you can tell which pages I use most because they have by far the most “mess” on them.  And, what I love most about the Test Kitchen Cookbook is they also tell you how they tried and failed until they got the recipe just right.

A note about recipes – you absolutely must read through the entire recipe before you get started.  I don’t know how many times I told this to my students, but it was a lot.  In fact, my husband still jumps right into dumping things into a bowl before reading the recipe and it most certainly comes back to bite him in the rear.  Why is this important?  First, you need to know if you have all the ingredients in your cupboard.  Second, you need to know if you have enough time to not only prep the recipe but cook it.  For example, if you only have 30 minutes to get dinner ready, then a recipe that takes 30 minutes just to prep is not going to work for you.  Finally, the ingredient list doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the cooking order.  Take cookies, you don’t just put the flour, sugar, butter, and egg in the same bowl at the same time.  No!  You first have to cream the butter and sugar and then you gradually add the egg and then the flour.  Ok, the top 10 recipes start now!

Recipe 1: Rice.  I know, sounds simple, but it’s so easy to overcook and under season rice and then you’re left with a gummy, tasteless mess.  The key to flavorful rice is to cook it in half water and half stock – if you’re serving it with chicken, use chicken stock; beef dish, beef stock; vegetable dish, vegetable stock.  You know how sometimes you get an end product that is pretty sticky?  When rice is transported it gets all jostled around like your boobs on a bumpy road.  And when that happens, some of the starch gets rubbed off, and then when you cook it, everything turns into a sticky mess.  The simple solution is to rinse the uncooked rice before putting it in the pot.  Finally, rice, like steak, requires a resting period.  This means, no heat and no touch for 10-15 minutes once it’s done cooking.

Recipe 2: Mashed potatoes.  This is another staple item that’s pretty hard to screw up, and yet, we all do it from time to time.  The trick to good mashed potatoes starts with, you guessed it, the right potato.  Baking potatoes should be used for baking – while they can be used to make mashed potatoes, in my opinion, the yellow ones are the best.  Potatoes, like rice, should not be overcooked.  You know when they are ready to take off the stove when you can easily pierce them with a fork.  Mashed potatoes are one of those foods that everyone likes a little differently, some like lumps, some like skin on, some like garlic and cheese mixed in.  I say, it depends on what else you’re serving.  But mostly, I prefer smooth and creamy.  So how do you get ultra-smooth mashed potatoes?  By mashing them in a two-step process.  Once my potatoes are done cooking, I like to put them back into the hot cooking pot with butter and salt and pepper and cover them up to let the butter melt.  Once the butter is melted, I first mash everything with an actual potato masher, and then when I’m ready to add in the liquid, I use a hand mixer.  As for the liquid, you could use milk, half and half, or straight up cream, though I prefer the taste of half and half.  Again, the key here is to not mix in too much liquid, or else you’ll end up with potato soup.  It’s easy to slowly add in the liquid rather than dumping it all in at once.  Once everything is all mixed and perfectly smooth, give them a taste and add more salt if needed.

Recipe 3: Scrambled eggs.  I know what you’re thinking, how can anyone eff up scrambled eggs?  But trust me, you’ve probably been making scrambled eggs wrong your whole life and never known it.  If you’re one of those weirdos who like your scrambled eggs nearly cremated, then this bit is not for you.  For everyone else, what makes for fluffy scrambled eggs is a little bit of liquid like half and half or cream added in and cooking them in a hot skillet for as little time as possible.  That’s right, it should really only take a few seconds to get your eggs to the right consistency and then take them off the heat.  Scrambled eggs should be shiny, not dull looking.  And don’t be afraid to change up how you season them.  Salt and pepper go a long way, but my other go-to seasoning is the Everything But the Bagel from Trader Joe’s.  And depending on your dietary needs, you could always cook them in a non-stick skillet, but I think they are more flavorful when you use a little butter or better yet, bacon grease.

Recipe 4: Roast chicken.  If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times, when it comes to cooking, I’ve taught my husband everything he knows, which is why he’s so good at it!  But when it comes to roast chicken, his is truly the best.  His secret is making a butter concoction – with salt, pepper, tarragon or parsley, paprika, and garlic powder, and then putting it under the skin before sticking it in the oven.  When you’re buying a chicken at the store, you want to make sure you buy one that is specifically for roasting, which it should say on the label.  Most of what you find at the market is either a broiler/fryer, roaster, or Cornish game hen.  Chad also turns the bird during the cooking process so that every side takes a turn cooking.  And remember, when it registers at 165 degrees, it’s done.

Recipe 5: Boeuf Bourguignon or Beef Burgundy.  No recipe says Sunday dinners at Granny’s house like roast beef.  My Granny was a teetotaler, up until she read that raisins soaked in gin were good for arthritis (ha!), so she never cooked with wine.  If you too are a teetotaler, remember that the alcohol cooks off and you’re left with the flavor.  However, beef cooked in wine and stock…I’m salivating thinking about it.  Just like everyone else, after watching the movie Julie and Julia, I took it upon myself to learn how to make Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon.  I can remember the first time I made it, OMG, it was heavenly.  Since then, I’ve adapted my own version of it but if you’re going to learn, it’s best to start with Julia’s.  The key to a good roast is low and slow in the oven.  A good beef stew should take 3 or more hours, depending on its size, at 325 degrees.  And good seasoning is vital.  Bay leaves are a must and don’t shy away from salt.  A fresh herb bouquet is the best, but you can always use dried herbs as a substitute.  And don’t forget the most important step, butter goes in at the end and you’ll want to make a slurry with cornstarch and water to thicken up the juices if you want more of a gravy consistency.

Recipe 6: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce.  Any good marinara should not come out of a jar.  Now, of course, you can use it in a pinch, but if you have the time, you should really consider learning how to make your own.  It’s not as hard as it sounds.  You start with good canned tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, onions, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and a little bit of sugar.  Yes, you heard that right.  You should always add a touch of sugar to a tomato sauce because it brings out the flavor in the tomatoes.  Some people like to add a little wine, others like to use stock it’s really personal preference.  And then you cook it low and slow on the stove.  Trust me, it’s divine.  As for turning your marinara into a meat sauce, consider using a meat mixture like ground beef and pork or ground beef, pork and lamb.  Then there’s the pasta.  Many a discussion has taken place on what makes for good pasta.  Should you add salt and oil to the water?  Should you really throw it against the wall to see if it sticks?  Blah, blah, blah.  Here’s my advice, follow the package directions.  If you’re using angel hair pasta and it says ready in 7 minutes, then check it at seven minutes to see if it’s done – and no, you don’t have to throw it against the wall.  As for salting the water; a lot of people like to put the salt in at the beginning, but I prefer to add it after the water is already boiling.  The reason for this is when you add salt at the beginning, it increases the boiling temperature of the water, therefore, taking the water longer to boil.  If you are cooking on an electric stove and have limited time, add the salt in after the water is boiling.  And I do like to add oil to the water because I like the flavor but It’s not necessary.  Finally, don’t forget to top off your spaghetti with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Recipe 7: A simple stir-fry.  By now, you know how to make proper rice, scrambled eggs, and roast chicken which is a good combination for a quick stir-fry.  The secret to any good stir-fry is in the sauce.  This is where it’s good to experiment and figure out what you like best.  I personally prefer a combination of soy and oyster sauce, but many times I’ll use a combination of soy sauce and sesame oil.  Or maybe you like more of a sweet and sour combination – so try that!  As for the vegetables, in my opinion, there are no rules.  Use what you already have, use fresh, use frozen, it’s all about preference.  For example, I might have fresh carrots and frozen peas and I’ll happily use both.  Or maybe I only have broccoli, so broccoli beef combo it is!  And don’t buy into all the hype, you do not need to go out and purchase a wok do make a good stir-fry.  All you need is a large skillet, preferably one that is non-stick, but even that’s not going to make or break it.  Just remember to do the meat and vegetables separately and then serve it over your rice with sauce.  This is really more of a tip rather than a rule, if your skillet is big enough, you could mix it all together, but I personally like to do it separately.  Steamed rice is easy, but fried rice is delicious!  And, it’s relatively easy to make, especially if you already have leftover rice because then all you need is a little sesame oil in the bottom of a hot skillet, scramble an egg, add the rice and let it cook.

Recipe 8: Macaroni and cheese.  Mac and cheese is an old favorite, but surprisingly not that simple.  A good cheese sauce is hard to master and something I feel like I’ve only done recently.  You have to get the roux just right and then not scorch the cheese, it can be a mess.  So here’s my advice, never use packaged shredded cheese to make your cheese sauce.  Packaged shredded cheese is coated with a preservative to help it not stick together in the bag.  This coating can ruin your cheese sauce causing it to either be lumpy, separate, or have a grainy texture.  Rather, shred your own cheese.  Plus, it’s cheaper.  And make sure to use a medium flavored cheddar.  When it comes to thickness, remember that when your cheese sauce is hot, it will be thinner than when it starts to cool so consistency is key.  Don’t worry if your cheese sauce is a bit runny, it will thicken as it cools.  Finally, one way I like to make mac and cheese is in the oven using a cheese sauce that is made from cream and cream cheese, and instead of cheddar, you use mozzarella.  It is so good – I shared my recipe with the caterer we had at our wedding and she ended up adding it to her menu!

Recipe 9: Buttercream frosting.  Any fool can buy frosting at the grocery store, but any genius can make it at home for pennies on the dollar.  In fact, you probably already have everything you need.  Ingredients: powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, milk.  That’s it.  Seriously.  The secret to a good buttercream is the vanilla.  Don’t use imitation vanilla – ever.  If you don’t believe me, I would encourage you to do a simple taste test.  Make some homemade vanilla pudding using real vanilla in one recipe and imitation in the other.  You’ll immediately taste the difference.  Real vanilla is extremely simple to make.  Buy vanilla beans either from your local health food market or Amazon, slice them down the middle and stick them in a jar with a good quality vodka.  In about a week, you’ll have vanilla.  No need to take a quick trip to Mexico to buy it.  And if you want cherry vanilla, use bourbon instead of vodka.  Make sure your butter is room temperature, cream it, then add in the powdered sugar and vanilla, and then slowly start adding in the milk until it’s the consistency you want.  And that’s it.  You can add in food coloring to make it more festive and when you tire of vanilla flavor, try almond extract.  It’s my personal favorite.  You can use buttercream frosting on cakes, cupcakes, as filling between layers, cookies, or if you’re filling particularly glutinous, all by itself.

Recipe 10: Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies.  For years I’ve been looking for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I swear I’ve tried them all.  Last year, Chad and I were in New Orleans for International contest with my chorus, I’ll tell you all about that sometime, and we ate at this restaurant that also had a bakery.  We ordered chocolate chips cookies and when we got them, we noticed they had sea salt on the top.  OMG, they were the most delicious cookies I’ve ever eaten.  From then on, I was determined to find a dupe.  And lo and behold, I found one on Pinterest.  They will change your life.  For good chocolate chip cookies, you need to use both white and brown sugars, real vanilla, salted butter (even if the recipe calls for unsalted), and sprinkle them with sea salt right when they come out of the oven.  For real, I’ve shared this recipe with practically everyone I know, and they all say it’s the best recipe they’ve tried.

And that’s it!  Those are the top ten staple items you must have in your arsenal.

Let me know if you have any questions because I would love to hear from you!

Episode 5: Kitchen Safety Practices

Today I’m sharing with you a few kitchen safety practices.

In this episode, you’ll learn about:

  • Knife safety
  • Proper food storage
  • How to take care of burns
  • and more!

Connect with Me:

Please leave a Rating and Review:

If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to do a review on Apple Podcasts.  Reviews on Apple Podcasts are one of the best ways to get the word out about podcasts.

 

Episode 4: The Top 10 Recipes You Need in Your Repertoire

Today we are talking about the top 10 recipes every home cook needs in their repertoire.

In this episode, you’ll learn about:

  • Why you need to read through the recipe first
  • My favorite cookbooks
  • Tried and true methods of making staple recipes

Supporting resources:

Connect with Me:

Please leave a Rating and Review:

If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to do a review on Apple Podcasts.  Reviews on Apple Podcasts are one of the best ways to get the word out about podcasts.

 

How to Not Poison Yourself in the Kitchen – Part 2

How to Not Poison Yourself in the Kitchen – Part 2

NERD ALERT! This article is not the sexiest topic, but it can add years to your life expectancy, so pay attention!

All potentially hazardous foods come with a 4-hour time bomb built in.  Anytime food is in the temperature danger zone (TDZ) the bomb starts ticking.  The TDZ is a range of temperatures where bacteria can grow best.  The range is 41°-135°, however, the most dangerous part of the range is 70-125.  This is like a warm bath for bacteria.  They love it!  The easiest way to stop the time bomb clock from ticking, is to stop it every two hours, meaning, get it back into the fridge until it gets back down to 40°.  Now on to the big 5 bacteria.

#1: Campylobacter jejuni The most common bacteria are known as Campylobacter jejuni.  This is the number 1 bacteria foodborne illness in the United States, the number one cause of bacterial diarrhea, and the number one cause of illness is college-aged students.  Why college students? Because they are often eating in cafeterias and likely using a microwave to heat up food and less likely to keep it clean.  Campylobacter jejuni was previously thought to be inert, but changes in American’s diet increased the chances of getting it.  In the mid-80s Americans started to eat more chicken and 88% of all chicken is infected.  Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and can last as long as a week.  How do you pick up these bacteria?   By consuming undercooked chicken and through cross-contamination.  You should get into the practice of using one cutting board for meats and poultry and one for fruits and vegetables, this way, it is less like you’ll cross-contaminate your veggies.  There is typically a time-delay of 2-5 days after ingesting and few associate the cause with the symptoms.  It can present as appendicitis.  However, cooking it to the proper temperature, 165°, will kill the bacteria. 

#2: Salmonella There are 28 different strains of Salmonella and there are around 1.4 million cases per year, however, only 1 in every 30 cases get reported.  Sources include, shellfish from polluted water, ice cream, ready to eat food, chocolate, eggs, and reptiles.  Yes, your pet lizard could be a carrier of salmonella.  And, 38% of all chickens are infected.  Friend, hear me now.  If you take nothing else away from this post, take this.  There is no such thing as medium rare chicken, despite what that idiot said on Facebook so don’t freaking do it!  Symptoms include fever (6-48 hours after ingestion), some vomiting, headache, cramping, can present with rose colored spots on torso.  The best defense from Salmonella is to avoid cross-contamination, thoroughly cook suspected food (poultry), and eat yogurt with active culture.

#3: Clostridium perfringens Clostridium perfringens, aka “The Cafeteria Germ”, got its nickname due to the fact that outbreaks are usually large and occur with food made in big quantities and “held” meaning kept at a certain temperature.  The is an anaerobic bacteria, or bacteria that do not live or grow when oxygen is present.  They are able to withstand high cooking temperatures and are commonly found in root vegetables.  This cafeteria germ can cause abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and nausea and symptoms usually appear 8-22 hours after ingesting.  As an interesting side note, this is also the same organism that causes gangrene.  Clostridium perfringens is typically associated with schools, prisons, and buffets.  So, how can you avoid it?  Thoroughly cook food to safe temperatures, keep food hot after cooking and serve meat dishes hot, within 2 hours after cooking.  Microwave leftovers to 165°.

#4: Staphylococcus When we think of foodborne illnesses, Staphylococcus causes an intoxication, in other body parts, it’s considered an infection.  The primary source is in the throat and nasal passages.  However, infected cuts, burns, pimples and boils can spread it too.  When in food, it produces an odorless, tasteless toxin that is heat stable, which means normal cooking temperatures will not destroy it.  The longer the contaminated food is in the temperature danger zone, the more toxic it becomes.  35% of all outbreaks involve cured meat – ham, corned beef, pastrami.  Guesses why?  Right!  These foods are most likely to be mishandled because many assume they are “safe” and nonperishable.  Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and cramps can occur 1-6 hours after ingesting.  Prevention?  Don’t touch your face while cooking.  If you have a cut on your finger you can wear gloves or those little finger condoms.  Also, store food at proper temperatures.

#5: E. coli 0157:H7 And finally, number 5 is my personal favorite. It always aggravates the crap out of me when I go to a restaurant and order a hamburger and the waiter or waitress asks me how I’d like it cooked.  My answer is always the same, 155° please.  They usually look at me, like wut?  But seriously!  If you are eating undercooked ground beef, you are definitely living on the edge.  Yeah, yeah, you’ve done it for a million years and never gotten sick.  Well you little risk taker you, all it takes is one time and you’ll be changing your tune.  3% of all cattle are infected with E. coli 0157:H7.  Before we get into all that, let’s back up a bit. 

First, everyone has some E. coli in their bodies, without it, we wouldn’t be able to digest solid foods.  And in case you’re curious, this is why babies put everything in their mouths.  It’s how we introduce bacteria to our guts.  However, as you’ve likely guessed, there are different strains of E. coli and the bad one is 0157:H7.  This is the bacteria responsible for the Jack-in-the-Box incident in 1993, bean sprouts in 1996 (which is why bean sprouts totally freak me out), and 25 million pounds of beef recalled in 1997.  Now, you may be thinking, that was a long time ago.  But do any of you remember the great romaine lettuce recall of 2019?  Yes, the primary source of E. coli 0157:H7 is beef.  But, another source is produce that has not been properly washed.  Also, contaminated water can be a source.  And when produce is grown in contaminated water, no amount of washing will make it go away.  This is another reason you should not drink water from rivers and streams without first boiling it.  Other sources include unpasteurized or raw milk and juice, soft cheese made from raw milk, and feces of infected people. 

So, how do you know if you’ve been poisoned by E. coli 0157:H7? The incubation period is 1-10 days and the main symptom is Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome or HUS.  This is a bloody diarrhea that dissolves the cell walls and any other organ it attaches to.  This can lead to death in young children.  In older patients, it can lead to strokes.  Usually little to no fever is present.  To prevent an outbreak, make sure you wash your hands before, during, and after preparing food, after diapering infants, and avoid eating high-risk foods like undercooked ground beef and raw milk and soft cheeses made with raw milk.  Back to my story about hamburgers.  Ground beef should always be cooked to 155° or higher, some sources suggest 160.  You may be thinking, but why is it ok to eat a rare or medium rare steak?  It’s because the bacteria lives on the outside of the steak and when it’s cooked, the bacteria is killed.  But, with ground beef, the E. coli is all mixed in with it, which is why it needs to be cooked to an internal temp of 155. 

We’ve now covered the Big Five bacteria related to foodborne illnesses and you’re probably wondering how you are ever supposed to remember it all.  Good news!  I’ve put together a document for you that you can print out and keep handy in your kitchen. But wait! There’s more! I also made you a temperature danger zone chart so you will never forget!

If you have any questions, I’d love to see them!