Archive for October, 2010

Keeping “Bag” Lunches Safe

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

I believe that taking one’s own lunch to work is a really good idea. This way, you choose the ingredients for your lunch, you are aware of how the food was prepared and how much of oils etc. was used. You know that it is fresh and wholesome.

Another huge advantage is that you will be saving money. The ingredients that are used to make one set of sandwiches can be used for several sandwiches. These include, bread, tomatoes, gherkins, jalapenos, cheese and so forth. You can add to savings by carrying your own water and soft drinks and not be from vending machines.
When I saw this article that follows,  I thought it had very useful information to ensure that the food you carry to work remains fresh and wholesome.

Do check it out.

Safe Food Handling

Keeping “Bag” Lunches Safe

Whether it’s off to school or work we go, millions of Americans carry “bag” lunches. Food brought from home can be kept safe if it is first handled and cooked safely. Then, perishable food must be kept cold while commuting via bus, bicycle, on foot, in a car, or on the subway. After arriving at school or work, perishable food must be kept cold until lunchtime.

Why keep food cold? Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly in the “Danger Zone” — the temperatures between 40 and 140 °F. So, perishable food transported without an ice source won’t stay safe long. Here are safe handling recommendations to prevent food-borne illness from “bag” lunches.

Begin with Safe Food

Perishable food, such as raw or cooked meat and poultry, must be kept cold or frozen at the store and at home. Eggs should be purchased cold at the store and kept cold at home. In between, transport perishable food as fast as possible when no ice source is available. At the destination, it must be kept cold. Food should not be left out at room temperature more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is above 90 °F).

Prepackaged combos that contain luncheon meats along with crackers, cheese, and condiments must also be kept refrigerated. This includes luncheon meats and smoked ham which are cured or contain preservatives.

Keep Everything Clean

Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next item. A solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water may be used to sanitize surfaces and utensils. Keep family pets away from kitchen counters.

Don’t Cross-Contaminate

Harmful bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, and countertops. Always use a clean cutting board. When using a cutting board for food that will not be cooked, such as bread, lettuce, and tomatoes, be sure to wash the board after using it to cut raw meat and poultry. Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for meat and poultry.

At lunchtime, discard all used food packaging and paper bags. Do not reuse packaging because it could contaminate other food and cause foodborne illness.

Packing Lunches

Pack just the amount of perishable food that can be eaten at lunch. That way, there won’t be a problem about the storage or safety of leftovers.

It’s fine to prepare the food the night before and store the packed lunch in the refrigerator. Freezing sandwiches helps them stay cold. However, for best quality, don’t freeze sandwiches containing mayonnaise, lettuce, or tomatoes. Add these later.

Insulated, soft-sided lunch boxes or bags are best for keeping food cold, but metal or plastic lunch boxes and paper bags can also be used. If using paper lunch bags, create layers by double bagging to help insulate the food. An ice source should be packed with perishable food in any type of lunch bag or box.

Keeping Cold Lunches Cold

Prepare cooked food, such as turkey, ham, chicken, and vegetable or pasta salads, ahead of time to allow for thorough chilling in the refrigerator. Divide large amounts of food into shallow containers for fast chilling and easier use. Keep cooked food refrigerated until time to leave home.

To keep lunches cold away from home, include a small frozen gel pack or frozen juice box. Of course, if there’s a refrigerator available, store perishable items there upon arrival.

Some food is safe without a cold source. Items that don’t require refrigeration include whole fruits and vegetables, hard cheese, canned meat and fish, chips, breads, crackers, peanut butter, jelly, mustard, and pickles.

Keeping Hot Lunches Hot

Use an insulated container to keep food like soup, chili, and stew hot. Fill the container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food. Keep the insulated container closed until lunchtime to keep the food hot — 140 °F or above.

Microwave Cooking/Reheating

When using the microwave oven to reheat lunches, cover food to hold in moisture and promote safe, even heating. Reheat leftovers to at least 165 °F. Food should be steaming hot. Cook frozen convenience meals according to package instructions.

My Gripe with Supermarket Shoppers

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

My Gripe has to do with shoppers who do not return the carts/trolleys back to the carts parking bay after they have unloaded their cars. I have seen many shoppers shove the carts onto whatever is closest to their cars. It is often pushed against the curbs of little islands that have lovely flowers growing in them. Now they are blocked with these carts. Often they are just abandoned anywhere in the parking lot.

A few days ago as I drove into a parking bay, I saw a cart right in the middle of a parking spot for cars. I thought how ridiculous this was. On my return I saw a man actually taking his cart back to the same spot, now making it 2 carts in a parking bay for cars!!
The best part about this particular location was that there were parking bays for carts in two locations about 6 yards on either side of this man’s car I could not believe the disregard that there is for returning carts to their proper places.

I decided to do my good deed for the day. After I had returned my car to the parking area, I also removed the offending cart back to the cart park. While I was taking the second cart, a supermarket employee had arrived to take all carts back to the store and took the cart from me. I told her that I am always surprised at the careless manner in which the carts are left by the customers. She laughed pleasantly, and said that people are too lazy.

This carelessness has also causes damage to cars, as carts on the loose, move, and they are known to hit into cars and cause scratches and bumps. Returning the carts should be seen as an opportunity to walk a few steps and get the benefit of exercise.
Does anyone else have this gripe?