Bad food safety reporting III: tips for a pathogen-free kitchen

A story that is ostensibly about tips to reduce foodborne illness in the home becomes a mish-mash of federal legislation, local is better, and stuff that is just plain wrong.

And it’s from the New York Times.

Some of the lowlights:

Wash all produce: Even if you are going to peel a cucumber or melon, give it a good scrub so you don’t transfer bacteria from the knife or peeler to the part you are going to eat. Most important, wash all lettuce, even if it comes in a bag that says triple washed.

Scientists have said the re-washing process is more likely to cross-contaminate the pre-washed greens with whatever crap was previously in a sink. The paper is in Food Protection Trends and available here.

Learn to love well done Cooking thoroughly is the best way to eliminate harmful bacteria from meats and poultry. For a list of temperatures for various foods, check the Web site, and don’t rely on your eye alone. Pick up an inexpensive meat thermometer (no need for the expensive digital models) next time you are in the grocery store.

It doesn’t have to be well-done, just cooked to the proper temperature. A digital thermometer is easier to read. And the key is to use a tip-sensitive thermometer.

Understand organic: Organic doesn’t necessarily mean safer (but) … there is something reassuring about buying from a small organic farmer at a local stand or farmers’ market, even if it does cost more.

No, it is not more reassuring. Show me the data.

A separate Times story, a so-called Recipe for Health for Orange Chicken With Vegetables calls for “1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, preferably from a small producer of free-range chickens, cut into 1/4-inch thick by 1-inch long pieces.” No reason why, other than some food porn preference; no mention of salmonella and cross contamination; no mention of temping final product with a tip-sensitive thermometer.