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February 20, 2009

SafeFood© - In Transport

Have you ever gotten stuck in a traffic jam or snow storm on your way home from the grocery store with perishable items onboard? Well after an unexpected three hour, 30 mile trip the other day with perishable products in my back seat I was stuck with the decision on what products were still safe and what needed to get the boot to the trash can. I have a food background in Dietetics and have just began studies in Hotel and Restaurant management – needless to say now that I look over that statement it is pretty obvious that I didn’t have the knowledge at hand to make decisions on these questionable food items. But I was tired and not in the ideal mood after my adventurous drive for another trip out in the weather and back to the grocery store to replace the questionable items – overall cancelling my cooking plans or repurchasing the items didn’t sound very appealing.
To keep you off the edge of your seat I’ll just go ahead and let you know that nothing harmful came about from the products that ended up being used for their planned purposes. However, after thinking about it after the fact and investigating some information about them I’m thankful my bad decision didn’t end up disastrous like it easily could have. How nice and convenient would it be though if potentially harmful products (especially meats, dairy, eggs) had a label indicating the temperature and time limit for the product to be without refrigeration?
After reviewing the When To Save and When to Throw it Out chart, I was shocked at some of the items that were marked as discard and was able to quickly recall multiple instances where I know I have consumed foods which clearly were not save and should have been discarded either due to improper storage or unrecognized danger. The chart mentioned provides a two hour window and recommendations for the products, but what happens after the two hours? If a product is safe for two hours is it safe for four hours or more? As a consumer I think these are items that need to be taught and displayed more thoroughly throughout retail food operations and on the product packaging if possible. Just imagine the possibility of how many food poisoning episodes this information may prevent!

Submitted by Guest Blogger Amy Casselman