Category Archive: Food Safety

Frozen Food Storage

Ever since I became a SAHM and have been cooking and deep freezing food quite a bit, I have always wondered how long frozen cooked food can be safely eaten. I also always wonder if it is safe to wash meat (bought from the market) first before putting them into the freezer. Now that I am doing quite a bit of deep freezing of Baby’s food, I wonder if the cooked food can be thawed and refrozen without cooking. Again I did a Google search and found this information:

Technically freezing keeps food indefinitely. It won’t ever be dangerous to eat no matter how long it stays in the fridge however the quality diminishes. It gets freezer burnt and just isn’t tasty anymore. I would say six months tops. For meats I would invest in one of those new Handi-Vacs by Reynolds. They are about $8.99 at the grocery store and they vacuum seal your plastic bags. This will make your meats last even longer.

The following information source is from the Food Safety and Inspection Service, Consumer Education and Information, obtained from Yahoo Answers UK and Ireland:

Q. What foods can be frozen?
A. Almost any foods can be frozen. Some exceptions would be eggs in shells and cans of food. However, once the food is removed from the can, you may freeze it.

Q. How does freezing keep food safe?
A. Food stored constantly at 0°F will always be safe. Only the quality suffers with lengthy freezer storage. Freezing keeps food safe by slowing the movement of molecules, causing microbes to enter a dormant stage. Freezing preserves food for extended periods because it prevents the growth of microorganisms that cause both food spoilage and foodborne illness.

Q. Does freezing destroy bacteria and parasites?
A. Freezing to 0°F inactivates any microbes — bacteria, yeats, and molds — present in food. Once thawed, however, these microbes can again become active, multiplying under the right conditions to levels that can lead to foodborne illness. Thorough cooking will destroy bactera.
Trichina and other parasites can be destroyed by sub-zero freezing temperatures. However, very strict government-supervised conditions must be met. It is not recommended to rely on home freezing to destroy trichina. Thorough cooking will destroy all parasites.

Q. How can freezer burn be prevented?
A. Freezer burn is prevented through proper packaging. It is safe to freeze meat or poultry directly in its supermarket wrapping but this type of wrap is permeable to air. Unless you will be using the food in a month or two, overwrap these packages. Use airtight heavy-duty foil, plastic wrap or freezer paper, or place the package inside a plastic bag. Use these materials or airtight freezer containers to repackage family packs into smaller amounts or to freeze food from opened packages. If a package is torn or opened while in the freezer, it is still safe to use. Overwrap or rewrap it.

Q. How can quality of foods by retained when freezing them?
A. Foods frozen at the peak of their quality emerge tasting better than foods frozen near the end of their useful life. Store all foods at 0°F or lower to retain vitamin content, color, flavor, and texture.

Q. Should meat and poultry be rinsed before freezing?
A. No, it is not necessary to rinse meat and poultry before freezing.

Q. Can food thawed in the refrigerator be refrozen without cooking?
A. Yes, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through defrosting. After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods. And if previously cooked foods are thawed in the refrigerator, you may refreeze the unused portion. If you purchase previously frozen meat, poultry or fish at a retail store, you can refreeze if it has been handled properly.

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Is It Safe To Eat Cheese With Mold On It?

The other day, my hubs bought a pack of expensive Emborg Dutch Gouda cheese. After eating just a couple of slices, I noticed small spots of greyish mold sprouting out on the sides of the cheese. I was horrified as I had just eaten a slice of the cheese. That evening, we returned it to the mini mart where we bought it from and got a replacement pack. Before I took the new pack of cheese home, I scrutinized the cheese and did not see any mold. The next day and 1 slice of cheese eaten, again I noticed tiny spots of hairy mold sprouting out on the cheese. And again off we went to the mini mart to show the moldy cheese to the shop keeper. This time, I took another type of cheese – Cheddar cheese but of the same brand. Thankfully, there was no mold this time round. My hubs and I ate the cheddar cheese slice everyday to quickly finish off the pack, for fear of mold sprouting again. After these 2 incidents, we vowed never to buy Emborg Gouda cheese again.

The question I have in mind is, is mold on cheese harmful if eaten? After all, cheese is a fermented food. I did a google search and found this information:

The cheese you buy in the store probably had mold on it at one time before it was packaged. As cheese ages or ripens, mold grows on the outside just as it does at your house or mine. Aged cheese is allowed to mold naturally. It is what gives cheese that sharp taste and if you eat blue cheese, the blue part is mold. If you get mold on your cheese block, just cut off a thin layer of cheese till the mold is gone and throw the moldy part in the trash. If you get mold on shredded cheese, its a total loss because its impossible to get that mold off. If you eat the mold, it isn’t harmful, just don’t eat a lot of it. This same mold on cheese is where the drug penicillin (an antibiotic) was formed from.
The answer is: not dangerous at all.

However according to The University of Missouri Extension “If the surface is moldy, scraping it off does not make it safe. While some molds are not harmful on cheese, there are types of mold that produce a toxin (a type of poison) that may cause serious health problems. Even if mold growth is just starting to appear, the amount of growth below the surface could be enough to be dangerous. Cheese showing mold growth should be discarded or returned to the distributor. No one should ever sniff mold because of the possibility of sending mold spores into the respiratory tract and perhaps causing serious illness. This is especially important for individuals who are allergic to mold because it could cause a severe reaction. ”
The answer is: It’s possible and not worth the risk.

Who has a more definite answer on whether it is safe to eat cheese that has turned moldy but with the molds scraped off?

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Risks Of Eating Raw Or Lightly Cooked Sprouts

I love eating bean sprouts, lightly cooked ones as they are crunchier and sweeter this way.  Ipoh bean sprouts are the best in the world.  They are fat, crunchy and really sweet. I also like adding raw alfalfa sprouts to my bowl of veggie salad but have stopped eating raw alfalfa after reading an article on the dangers of eating raw sprouts. I found out recently that eating raw or lightly cooked sprouts can be harmful.

Here’s a an interesting article by FoodSafety.gov on eating sprouts:

Do sprouts carry a risk of illness? Like any fresh produce that is consumed raw or lightly cooked, sprouts carry a risk of foodborne illness. Unlike other fresh produce, seeds and beans need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow. These conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli.

Have sprouts been associated with outbreaks of foodborne illness? Since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw and lightly cooked sprouts. Most of these outbreaks were caused by Salmonella and E. coli.

What is the source of the bacteria? In outbreaks associated with sprouts, the seed is typically the source of the bacteria. There are a number of approved techniques to kill harmful bacteria that may be present on seeds and even tests for seeds during sprouting. But, no treatment is guaranteed to eliminate all harmful bacteria.

Are homegrown sprouts safer? Not necessarily. If just a few harmful bacteria are present in or on the seed, the bacteria can grow to high levels during sprouting, even under sanitary conditions at home.

What can industry do to enhance the safety of sprouts? In 1999, the FDA provided the sprout industry with guidance on reducing the risk of contamination of sprouts by harmful bacteria. The FDA and other Federal and state agencies continue to work with industry on detecting and reducing contamination and keeping contaminated sprouts out of the marketplace.

What can consumers do to reduce the risk of illness?

* Children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts).
* Cook sprouts thoroughly to reduce the risk of illness. Cooking kills the harmful bacteria.
* Request that raw sprouts not be added to your food. If you purchase a sandwich or salad at a restaurant or delicatessen, check to make sure that raw sprouts have not been added.

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