It’s another beautiful, sunny day here in Panama City, Florida.
We’re finally easing our way outta the ‘Arctic Blast’ that’s brought record setting cold weather and snow fall to much of the country.
Today’s high, here in Bay County, is expected to top out at 65. Still below average for this time of year, but I’ll take it.
Wherever you are, hope you’re also healthy, happy and keeping yourself amused.
But, let’s talk turkey…
Think about this as you get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with the traditional feast of plenty:
Every year, 48 million Americans get some form of food poisoning. Because many cases go unreported, the number’s probably even higher.
Young people, elderly folks, and people with weakened immune systems, are at the greatest risk.
Food poisoning (foodborne illnesses) shouldn’t be taken lightly. Symptoms range from mild discomfort to very serious,life-threatening illness. In the United States we average 128,000 food poisoning related hospitalizations annually…”
And, some 3,000 deaths are linked to complications from eating tainted food. Source: FDA
Yet, with some commonsense attention to detail, when preparing our food, nearly all food poisoning is preventable.
First off, we should read, and follow, cooking instructions included with unfamiliar foods. (I learned this the hard way.) If there’s no instructions, we both know how to search for them online. We just need to take the time to do so.
To highlight this point, here’s an illustration from my research into food poisoning: potentially food borne illnesses from eating an innocent potato baked in tin (aluminum) foil…
When preparing and cooking a potato if proper precautions aren’t followed, within 12 – 72 hours, we could suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, blurred & double vision, muscle weakness that progresses to paralysis and left untreated, we could actually die from respiratory failure.
Whoa! Death by baked potato?
Yup. The disease causing bacteria is Clostridium Botulinum. You may know it by it’s street name, Botulism.
Though cases of botulism poisoning are rare these days in developed countries, it a potential killer, and is usually associated with sloppily processed home canned foods.
But, botulism from our foil baked potato? Source of following quote
…Baked potatoes that have been wrapped in foil have been linked to cases of botulism. Clostridium botulinum spores can survive the baking process and the foil wrap seals the potato preventing oxygen from being present. In this environment, and at the right temperature, spores on the potato can germinate and grow – producing their deadly toxin….”
Before you swear off baked potatoes, hold up a minute, …
Here’s how we can keep eating them safely:
- eat them within 2 hours of baking at 425 degrees
- if not eaten, store them in the fridge within the same 2 hour time frame
- otherwise, don’t eat baked potatoes that have been sitting in less than an 140 degrees Fahrenheit heated environment for longer than a couple of hours
Side Note: If you’re interested, click the following blue link for other Weird & Odd Potato Sickening Tales
Getting back to holiday meals, Thanksgiving in particular, if we can die from a side dish of baked potatoes, what’s our chances of surviving helpings of the traditional turkey, ham, or your family’s favorite entree?
Pretty good, if we follow accepted food preparation rules.
General Food Preparation Practices:
- if possible, prepare foods for same-day use and as close to serving time as possible
- don’t share cutting boards, utensils, cleaning tools, sinks, pots, or any food preparation surface without a thorough cleaning between different food preps
- avoid direct hand contact with food, especially ready-to-eat foods (use gloves, serving/cooking utensils)
- take extra care to account for ‘cold spots’ when cooking partially-frozen foods
- prevent outside contamination of any foods prepared in advance by covering them tightly after they have properly cooled
- don’t trust suggested cooking time as verification a dish is done, instead use a thermometer and check multiple interior locations
Because we all know this stuff, it’s easy to shortcut around some of them, isn’t it?
This year, let’s agree to take our time and pay attention by enjoying the pageantry involved with the process of our meal’s preparation.
After all, the thrill is in the journey, not the arrival, or some Zenish saying like that…
How to safely use my favorite, The Leftovers?
- reheat leftovers to at least 165 degrees F
- reheat leftovers only once, and throw away portions not eaten
- after 3 days, throw out dishes stored in refrigerator (unfrozen)
- foods reheated in microwave should be stirred at least once during process, and also heated to at least 165 degrees for 15 seconds minimum
- microwaved reheated food needs to sit covered for 2 minutes, before serving
- don’t mix leftover foods with fresh foods
My biggest challenge with leftovers are, well, leftovers. I feel guilty if I leave them in that lonely refrigerator too long. I mean, they needs my attention!
My thoughts on the ‘Thanksgiving’ holiday…
Although Thanksgiving day becomes more commercialized each year, I like the emotional benefits of giving special focus on gratefulness and recognizing our blessings. I also enjoy the buzz I get knowing that a big part of our society is united in sharing similar sentiments.
And, here’s wishing you a lifetime of gratefulness for your many blessing…
Looking forward to talking to you next time. And, would like to leave you with a little something the late Zig Ziglar said,
Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems…”
Oh yeah, one more thing, to learn more about food poisoning and such, click on the following blue link Foodborne Illnesses
As usual, we’ll remind you… “I don’t know anything for certain and I’ve no advice about anything. My role is reporting upon my research and sharing personal stories with you.
Still, I hope to inspire you in some small way.
Ideas for me, your aging related story, or comments are very damn welcome…