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August 19, 2008

SafeFood© on a Stick

It is Fair Time! With that comes the end to our year-long cravings for Fried Snickers, Funnel Cakes, Fresh Squeezed Lemonade, and of course, the Pork Chop on a Stick. My home is in Iowa – and like half the state’s population – I usually make the rounds at the Iowa State Fair (check out the movie or stage classic production of State Fair to get a true sense of the experience). It is Our State Fair!

There is more to do at the Fair than just eat, but certainly experiencing the food temptations is a part of the ritual. I watch with interest the preparation and service of all this food. Some of the trailers/stands are very conscientious and follow SafeFood handling and others must have put their best foot forward during the inspections. Yes, all food stands at the Fair are inspected and approved. This ensures there is no massive outbreak of a foodborne illness.

Of course, Fair Goers should also take the usual precautions – washing hands before eating (especially after petting the Super Bull) and reject food that is clearly not thoroughly cooked (although a lot of the stands use precooked products) or where the food server has used bare hands, dropped the cup on the floor, or has his/her hair swishing around the food stand.

Food on a Stick has many advantages in that it reduces the need for the food server to actually touch the food. And with potential for cross contamination, that is a good thing!

Enjoy Your State Fair!

Submitted by Catherine Strohbehn (State Fair veteran) August 19, 2008.

August 01, 2008

GUILTY of a SafeFood© Crime!

We all know the proper care and handling of fresh produce – wash fresh fruits and vegetables before eating. The SafeFood© Police are watching, right? As a SafeFood Advocate, I try to maintain a law abiding lifestyle. Usually, the rule of washing fresh produce is followed. But, like with any rule, there are exceptions I make for personal application, such as for items fresh from my garden.

Here is my confession.

Cherry tomatoes straight off the vine are soooooo good I am guilty of omitting the wash step with these. This wonderful taste first thing in the morning is my reward after exercising, Yes, sweaty hands and all, so make that a double crime! Extenuating circumstances exist: I am cautious in that blemished tomatoes are tossed for the birds. By blemish, I mean any tears in skin or evidence of bird droppings. The torn skin allows opportunity for bacteria to enter the item, and we all know that bird droppings is another name for bird poop – nothing I want to eat.

Strawberries are another item that do not always get a rinse before tasting. My harvest productivity ratio is about 50% (one for me, one for the basket).

I don’t recommend this procedure if serving at risk folks or if sharing the garden bounty with a group of people. Yet for a 50-something year-old, I calculate the risk/benefit of life more closely – and taste of fresh produce straight from the garden is definitely a benefit with appropriate caution. Enjoy the tastes of summer – particularly fruits and vegetables fresh from the garden. Choose wisely. Leave the blemished items behind. They are not worth the risk.

Submitted by Catherine Strohbehn, August 1, 2008