safefood Queensland: you’re breaking my (temperature-verified) heart

 In what appears to be an ineffectual use of twitter akin to travel and weather updates from people who occasionally say something useful, safefood Queensland (that’s in Australia) posted 10 tips for chicken preparation ending with this nosestretcher.

“And finally Tip 1: Make sure that you never serve partially cooked chicken to anyone. Chicken is cooked when the juices run clear.”

Color is a lousy indicator of safety for any meat. This has been extensively referenced, and why Canadians and Americans tell people to use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer. The chicken leg with back attached (right, thanks Pete Snyder) has been cooked to a thermometer-verified and safe 165F. There may be a yuck factor, but it’s microbiologically safe.

Soccer-based food safety metaphors suck: give food bugs the red card this summer?

We visited with our neighbors yesterday and their baby, Luna Sofia, who is currently called baby Luna Sofia although that may pass, and the Columbian mother asked if I was going to watch the World Cup of soccer.

I said no, and tried to extol the virtues of ice hockey.When I think of watching World Cup soccer I have this image of Malcolm McDowell being rehabilitated in A Clockwork Orange.

But that doesn’t stop the civilized British soccer fans from using bad World Cup metaphors to spread their faith-based food safety.

Food Safety Week starts today, and with many people likely to have barbecues or be eating outdoors for World Cup matches, the Food Standards Agency is reminding everyone that food bugs can cause more misery than a penalty shoot-out.

The U.K. Food Standards Agency also has some top food safety tips for people planning barbecues this summer:

* always make sure chicken, pork, burgers, sausages and kebabs are cooked until steaming hot all the way through, none of the meat should be pink and any juices must run clear.

This is wrong. Color is a lousy indicator and steaming hot means nothing. Although after my last post, a U.K. dude wrote in to say,

Not every mother of three children rushing about with a full time job has the time to use your wonderful tip thermometer and so visual advice is both sensible and correct.

Nope, still wrong, and in this case, sexist. What about fathers with four daughters making meals and a full-time job? Did it for years, with a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

Shopping cart sanitation (and don’t let kids lick packages of raw meat)

Amy, Sorenne and I go grocery shopping fairly frequently. The 11-month-old is curious about everything, a trait I called the day she was born; she’s alert, curious and increasingly mischievous.

When she was strong and co-ordinated enough to sit on her with a seatbelt on the seat behind the handle, a battle of wills soon emerged as Sorenne would have her hands on the handle, then in her mouth, or worse, would try to suckle the handle.

At this point I become much more rigorous and consistent about using those sanitary wipes  to wipe down the shopping cart seat and handle.

In 2004, clear displays promoting shopping cart sanitation were novel. And this one from Phoenix (upper right) is far more dramatic and attention-grabbing than a small container nailed to a bleak wall beside the shopping carts, which is still the norm today.

But things are changing.

Last year, USA Today reported that supermarkets and other retailers that provide shopping carts are increasingly looking to limit germ exposure for customers and their families.???, making sanitary wipes more readily available and in some cases, installing a whole cart cleaning system like this one in Wisconsin (photo by Peter J. Zuzga, for USA TODAY)

The trend continues to grow. Newspuller Gonzalo was in the Manhattan (Kansas) Target store recently and snapped these shots (below).

Parents and caregivers also have to think like the bad bug: like, don’t give the kids packages of raw meat to play with or leave within reach. Olga Henao, an epidemiologist for the U.S. Centers for disease control told USA Today last year that doing so triples the chance they may contract salmonella and quadruples it for campylobacter.

“Infants can become ill when they transfer bacteria from the packaging into their mouths.”