Monday, June 23, 2008

Cross Contamination

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Remember eating raw cookie dough when you were a kid? Yes, well, we still do that around here.

I don't know about you, but I have never heard of anyone dying, or even being ill from eating cookie dough. Although, that would make quite the headline wouldn't it?

"Mother of Seven Expires After Ignoring the Dangers of Cookie Dough"
"Deadly Cookie Dough Claims Another Victim"
"Another Cookie Dough Fatality"
"Death by Cookie Dough; Don't Let it Happen to You"

Somebody stop me.

My point, and I do have one, is this. I have noticed what seems to me like a lot of hysteria over "Safe Food Practices". I see commercials and ads about it and of course there is always a handy dandy product for sale that will eliminate the risk of "unsafe food handling".

When I am browning ground beef or stirring the stir fry, I wonder, "At what point is this spoon I am stirring with touching meat that is done and contaminating it with the cooties from a few seconds ago when the meat wasn't done? Do I change stirring implements with every stir?"

While watching a cooking show, I noticed the chef wiped his hand on a towel after handling raw meat and then he kept right on truckin' with the recipe he was working on. Guess what product was featured during the commercial break. Antibacterial spray. To prevent cross contamination.

I just wonder if all the hype isn't a brilliant marketing strategy. Do we really need antimicrobialbacterialecoli products in a convenient spray bottle? Was there an outbreak of cross contamination related deaths that I didn't hear about? Why the sudden need to spend money on products we didn't even know we needed 15 years ago?

Maybe I am just under informed and there is solid evidence that cross contamination is more dangerous than I realize. Any thoughts?


Thehotrod5 said...

We are not a fan of all the antibacterial items here. But, we are not a fan of alot of things the general public deams as "healthy" lol. All of those antibacterial lotions and such kill of the good bacteria as well as the bad..which is not good! We wash our hands and use our brain about cooking food but we don't take it overboard. I think our society has become terrified of "bacteria" not even realizing that we NEED alot of it.


Threeundertwo said...

I avoid antibacterial products. I think we're going to find we tampered too much with the good stuff in our attempts to wipe out the bad.

When it comes to cooking, I'm much more of a stickler on the other end -- I think food needs to go back into the fridge pronto or get thrown out. Stuff that's been sitting out at a friends buffet for hours turns my stomach.

Kim said...

Hype. It's all hype :)

I am probably not careful enough...except when we are at an indoor playground. I do notice that we often pick up some sort of *bug* from there, so I am pretty militant about using sanitizer when we leave there :)

JunkMale said...

I handle lots more raw meat around the house since we feed our dog a raw diet. At first, we were sticklers for wearing latex gloves and whatnot, but the latex gloves have gone by the wayside. Now I just give my hands a wash with non-antibacterial dish soap and spritz any touched surfaces down with either 1) diluted bleach, 2) lemon juice, 3) isopropyl alcohol, or 4) Shaklee Basic H cleaning solution.

I'm sure I haven't been as vigilant as I could be with cleaning, but after months and months of this, if the risk really were as high as the marketing would have you believe, we'd have been sickened many times by now.

We try to keep the dog from kissing us too much after eating, but there have been times that we've gotten face/mouth kisses from the pup. And we're still alive and (as far as we can tell) have never been sickened directly as a result of raw meat handling or raw bloody meat eating dog.

Sherilyn said...

Well, we eat raw cookie dough, and we live in a place where our eggs come unrefrigerated and unwashed! Somehow, we have not gotten sick. I keep some anti-bacterial hand soap around, but that is it. I think the whole anti-bacterial everything kick is WAY overblown.

I guess I should admit that we have been more careful about eating things with raw eggs (no more licking the brownie bowl:-( ) since bird flu came through here earlier this year. But I am far more careful with the kids than with myself.

Linz said...

I remember when I used to get to lick the brownie/cake bowl but knowing my luck I would get sick if I did that now. I have thought the same thing about the utensil and cooking the ground beef. But I'm always a little more cautious b/c I'm not a very good cook and don't want to make the youth minister sick. :) I'll be trying to be all sanitary getting the meat out of the package and all and then later wonder why I was worrying about that when I'm sticking a utensil that touched raw meat back into the pan.! But what do I know...I used to drink out of the garden hose...

Amy said...

I'm sure I'm not nearly as careful as I should be, especially with Alan.. darn immunosuppresion! ;)

....but I go through EXACTLY that same thought process EVERY time I brown ground beef. When do you change spoons?!??! Lol!

Edi said...

I am totally with you on the browning ground beef and wondering about the stirring instrument. Sometimes if I think of it, I do switch :)

My kids are always asking before they steal a pinch of dough "does it have raw egg in it?"

Happy face said...

We eat cookie dough.

Nikki said...

Lots of raw cookie dough consumed here today. My personal thoughts on the cookie dough issue: If the raw eggs in the cookie dough do have salmonella, it will likely be such a small amount to not kill us. I imagine at most it will give some nasty gas or maybe even diarrhea.

My daughter is the only one who doesn't get raw cookie dough because of her egg allergy.

Cooking meat? I've thought of that too. And when it occurs to me, I switch spoons.

Cutting vegetables on a cutting board that just cut raw chicken? hurl. I draw the line with raw chicken.

Leah said...

I admit- I change the spoon or spatula when the meat gets done. Haven't you noticed that rogue piece of hamburger that sticks to the spoon part-way up the handle?? That could be germ-laden piece! So, I throw that baby in the sink and get a clean one out just as the meat finishes cooking. :)

There, I feel better now that I've gotten that off my chest.

Lockwoods said...

Okay...bottom line...we live in Mexico. We have at one point or another had- salmonella poisoning, giardia, and e.coli. The surprising thing to me is that we did NOT die. We were pretty sick for a few days, but I grew up always thinking (due to all the paranoia of all this stuff) that if you got one of these things...that was was over.
We just use common sense (cook things thoroughly, wash our hands, don't cut the raw chicken and then use the same knife on the lettuce, wash or peel fruits/veggies ect...) but our water gets "bugs" sometimes...we still have to drink. We visit other people here as we share the gospel daily...they almost always offer us something to eat or drink...and we just pray and thank them and eat. :)
My hubby once told me how people will pay lots of money for diet pills or pay to get a colon cleanse and stuff like that...he said we could just bottle some bad water here and put an ad on ebay...
"Lose 10 lbs in 2 days...only $9.95" :)
Oh, and we ALWAYS eat cookie dough, lick the cake batter beatears, lick the bowl ect...

EllaJac said...

We eat raw cookie-dough, and when I conquer my mental block a bit more, will be putting raw eggs in our smoothies. Now - these are homegrown eggs from my backyard that I have much faith in. I don't do it as much with storebought eggs (well, maybe the cookie dough).

I don't switch utensils when browning beef, because I figure if I get the spatula hot enough, I'm cooking out any germs there anyway.

Another thought: Modern, conventional beef-raising involves massive amounts of corn and grain in the cow's diet. Cows are herbivores, and weren't really intended to eat so much grain. While it packs the weight on quickly (slaughterweight in 16 months vs. 3 years), it also changes the pH of their rumen (digestive stuff)... giving e.coli (for one) free reign over their entire digestive tract, when, if the cow was eating grass, the bad bacteria would be mostly confined to the lower digestive area. Grain-fed beef, when slaughtered, have a much greater chance of contaminating massive quantities if any part of the digestive tract is punctured/damaged during slaughter.

That's probably more than you wanted to know. But if I had a homegrown, healthy, grass-fed beef, my concern would be almost nonexistant.

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