Blog


The steaks are high with food safety

piece of meat

The connoisseurs will tell you that the best way to enjoy your steak is rare. The reasoning is the more you cook a piece of meat the more you reduce the juices, and therefore the more you reduce the flavour. But is a rare steak a food safety risk? The answer for all those carnivores out there is decidedly NO! A rare steak does not carry greater food safety risk than a steak that has been cremated.

The reason is that any potentially hazardous bacteria would be present on the surface of the steak and not in the meat. The chef/griller/braai master cooks the surface of the meat at a high temperature and this ensures all bacteria that may be present on the meat are destroyed. Should the chef/griller/braai master be using dirty equipment then both the rare steak and well done steak carry the same risk.

Unfortunately when it comes to rare burgers (patties) the same does not hold true. When meat is minced, the bacteria on the surface of the meat are mixed in with the rest of the meat. The bacteria are now present throughout the burger patty. By not cooking the patty thoroughly results in the centre of the patty not reaching sufficiently high enough temperatures.

So, if the centre of the patty is still raw or red it means it has not been cooked right through and bacteria may still be present. Therefore we recommend that food establishments stop offering rare burgers and rather cook the patty thoroughly to reduce the risk of making their patrons sick.

Remember you cannot see bacteria and as such you can never be 100% sure that those little blighters are not present. If you have confidence that the meat is very fresh and that no contamination has taken place, i.e. that no bad bacteria has got onto the meat, then by all means enjoy your rare burger. Just remember rare burgers and steak tartare will always pose a higher risk of potential food poisoning.

When it comes to food safety, the gloves are off!

I am often asked about the use of gloves in the kitchen when handling and preparing food. This is no small issue, and one that people often get wrong.

There seems to be a misconception that gloves are the sanitary equivalent of hairnets, that is, everyone should be wearing them. Yet there is no negative consequence of hairnets other than becoming a test case for What Not to Wear (well, at least not in public anyway!) Many people assume that the use of gloves creates some super-hygienic force field around kitchen staff hands. Unfortunately, like the Tooth Fairy, it doesn’t matter how much we’d like to believe it – it doesn’t make it true.

So the hard truth is: gloves can cause cross-contamination just as easily as bare hands. Salmonella from raw chicken can be spread to a salad whether the material transferring it is latex or skin.

So why wear ever wear gloves? Let’s get the low-down.

PROS
• Gloves prevent the spread of disease if the wearers have cuts or a rash on their hands.
• People are more aware of their hands when wearing gloves and may therefore be less likely to touch their ears, nose, mouth or hair.

CONS
• Gloves often give people wearing them a false sense of hygiene. They believe that because their hands are covered, they do not need to wash them and also do not replace the gloves often enough.
• The synthetic materials of gloves make one’s hands sweat more, creating an ideal breeding ground for bacteria on the skin. This sweat can also seep out onto the food. (Appealing, right?)
• Gloves make one’s sense of touch less acute, which can be dangerous for staff working with sharp knives.
• Gloves are expensive.

Bearing this all in mind, at a time when most companies are trying to reduce costs, the operational expense for gloves just cannot be justified when washing hands correctly is still recommended by all authorities. Actually, it’s much the preferred option, because there is no substitute for correct hand-washing.

And so the key to food safety in the kitchen is not an endless supply of latex, but for food handlers to understand how cross-contamination actually happens. This makes food safety training a vital ingredient of preventing cross-contamination in your kitchen.

But should you decide, despite this knowledge, to use gloves, please ensure all staff members wash their hands and discard gloves frequently.

Tagged , ,