Put a cap on a food cop-out
Friday, June 08, 2012

Simple precautions you need to follow in order to avoid food-borne illnesses this summer

As tempera-tures climb in our Middle Eastern homes and ice cream melts by the time you open your car door, the stews and daytime barbecues of winter are certainly no more. Salads and evening-only barbecues (if you dare) are de rigueur for the Middle Eastern summer.

Here are a few food-related tips to take you through yet another intense summer without harmful food-borne illnesses. Remember to take extra caution when handling food that will be given to children, the aged or those who are sick as their immune systems are more susceptible to the pathogens that cause food-borne illnesses.


Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water. The normal recommended amount is half your weight in ounces but in such intense weather, you have to bump it up. Aim to never feel thirsty. By the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.


Always walk with a water bottle and add lots of ice. The ice will melt quickly when outdoors, but it will help to keep the water cooler for longer. Never leave plastic bottles in hot cars with water because the high heat will make bacteria grow. That’s where that funky smell comes from on water bottles that have been accidentally left for too long in any condition, but it happens quicker in high heat.


Wash reusable water bottles daily with a bottlebrush and warm soapy water. Leave to air dry.  Sterilise straws, mouthpieces and covers as well by pouring boiling water over them in a bowl. Allow to air dry.


Get a good insulated bag for your lunch. This is not the time 
to carry your lunch or snack in that cute little paper bag. All food should be transported in properly insulated bags. Lower the temperature even more with reusable freezer ice packs especially when carrying particularly vulnerable foods like dairy, eggs, meat 
and poultry.


If you do go out for an evening barbecue, keep foods safe in your insulated bags when not eating them.

6Never leave food in a locked, parked car. Even if you are just running out for a meeting, do not leave your lunch in the car — insulated lunch bag or not. Remember that the temperature inside a locked car soars much higher than that outside. This is why so many food-borne illnesses develop in the summer.


Get an insulated shopping bag for your groceries.  Pay special attention to seafood, poultry and meats as well as the dairy and eggs. The best thing is to ice seafood, poultry and meat in separate disposable insulated bags (which you can identify with markers) and put them all into the bigger reusable insulated shopping bag or trolley. Do your shopping and go straight home. Try to buy those highly perishable items at once from the same grocer so you do not have to do multiple stops. From exploding eggs to fatal food poisoning — you may end up with more than a tummy ache.


Do your grocery shopping either early or late which will help you avoid exposing food to high temperatures. 


Eat lots of vegetables and fruits throughout the day. Vary the type, the amount and the combinations according to your diet, but these foods are packed with rehydrating water and minerals. Think cucumbers and watermelons.


Do not leave cooked food out at home for long periods. Cool them and then refrigerate. If refrigerated or frozen only, take out portions at a time. Do not refreeze or cool again after bringing to room temperature or heating.



Kari is a Dubai-based journalist and photographer of the food blog Chefandsteward.com. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/ChefandSteward and contact her at: - kari@chefandsteward.com


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