Lessons learned as a food safety professional

Lessons learned as a food safety professional

We asked some of our food safety program staff and committee members a simple question: How has your work changed the way you eat and/or think about food? Here are their responses…

Lessons learned as a food safety professional | www.APHLblog.orgBefore I start prepping any high-risk food like raw meat, I make sure the area is clear of anything I might not want to contaminate (especially if you are running water which can create aersolization). I put clean dishes from a drying rack away, and move other utensils that may normally be on the counter (like a utensil jar) completely out of the way of the food preparation process. Why? Here is one example… There was a small Salmonella outbreak that began with an infant getting salmonellosis.  Upon investigation it was determined that the family cleaned out the turtle aquarium in the kitchen sink near where the baby bottles had been left out to dry; the aerosolization of that process contaminated the bottles which then passed the organism to the infant.  While it makes perfect sense, it is not something I would have considered prior to my work in food safety.
Stephen Gladbach
Microbiology Unit Chief
Missouri State Public Health Laboratory

I am much more aware of the connection between agriculture practices and the safety of the food I prepare for my family. The way cows and chickens are raised is not only important for animal wellbeing.  On-farm practices impact the number and types of pathogens that may end up in our food, in our kitchens and on our plates. Food safety is not as simple as “wash your hands” and “wash your produce.” Those are very important steps we should take to protect ourselves, but safety begins on the farm.
Shari Shea
Director, Food Safety
APHL

The one thing I have learned is to be diligent in good food preparation practices at home to reduce risk to my family.  This includes using different cutting boards and knives for the foods I am preparing;  to wash my vegetables more than a quick rinse under the faucet; to make sure meat is cooked to the proper temperature; and good clean-up afterward. When eating out, I look around to see the cleanliness of the place. If the room that many customers see (bathroom) is dirty, what does that say about places I can’t see?
George Goedesky
Vice President, MALDI Biotyper
Bruker Daltonics Inc.

I’ve heard too many stories about children who were gravely ill or even died from being infected with E. coli O157:H7, a dangerous bacteria often associated with undercooked ground beef. I’m hesitant to serve my kids hamburgers, but when I do I make sure they’re cooked to a minimum temperature of 160°F. A good food thermometer is one of the most important kitchen utensils to have on hand. Everyone should own one.
Kirsten Larson
Manager, Food Safety
APHL

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