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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:46 am 
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Location: Springfield, IL
Hi,

Some friends went to visit relatives in Wales. It was late November and the Welsh cousin actually purchased an expensive turkey to celebrate a USA Thanksgiving. The family was very well to do, driving new Bentley but typically had an undercounter refrigerator.

After dinner the half-consumed turkey went onto the counter covered by loose foil. They decided to have turkey sandwiches on Sunday. Off came the foil, the three day old turkey was sliced and served.

The remains stayed on the counter for Tuesday lunch.

I am not complaining, just bragging. After all, I keep on buying manufacturers cream and letting it sit until it's 30 days after the expiration date and then opening and eating on berries.

Tim


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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 11:21 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 9:52 am
Posts: 1140
Location: Kansas City
2 questons - what is manufacturers cream and what does letting it set out for that long do? Clotted cream?

And about the turkey - Mother used to stuff it the night before and let it sit overnight on the back porch, November being very cold in Missouri. It worked ok until the racoons discovered it one year and we had all the usual turkey trimmings with left over pot roast!

My mother always fried chicken early in the morning for dinner at 6:00 pm and what didn't get eaten sat out on the counter overnight to go in my father's lunch pail the next day.

Of course that was eons ago and the food police hadn't been formed yet.

Fitzie


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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 12:19 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2009 10:48 am
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Location: Near Ithaca, NY
When I was a kid, leftover, and unstrained bacon grease sat in a jar or an emptied Crisco can on the stove. Nothing would grow in that environment......

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A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch. - James Beard


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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 1:27 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 10:45 pm
Posts: 1531
Location: Ottawa, ON
On a little more serious note, though, 5000 deaths in the US annually are attributed to food borne diseases. Although certainly there are lots of overly panicky people out there, the problem is real. Looking at the stats breakdown, the virals cause illness much more frequently then that bacterials (35 million vrs 5 million cases), but the bacterials are more deadly, with Salmonella alone accounting for over 30% of the deaths and Listeria accounting for another ~28%.

See http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol5no5/mead.htm

Unfortunately the dismal state of even basic statistics in public health means we can't get sensible number for risks in specific risk categories, like young, old, immune-suppressed, etc. so it is always very difficult to correlate these kinds of numbers to a individual persons life. For all I know Salmonella is laying waste to men over 40 with blond hair but leaving everyone else untouched.

But eating is like any activity; it is a matter of threat-risk management and weighing to benefits and costs. Me, I like some kinds of food that have some kinds of risk; sauces with raw yolks, "undercooked" hamburgers, pink-in-the-middle pork, etc. I also prefer some level of convenience in my cooking and am not going to get all psycho about reducing a risk which was low in the first place. Of course, I also drive to fast, drink (not at the same time) and engage in numerous other behaviours that increase my risk of injury and death, so I might not be a good example. And, when it comes to food, I am lucky to have a strong immune system and be in good health; I expect the bacon is more likely to kill me in the long run then the mayonnaise. OTOH, when Ruhlman tells me I should use pink salt for a particular bit of charcuterie, I am not inclined to think I know better and not use it.


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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 2:57 pm 
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Location: Springfield, IL
fitzie wrote:
2 questons - what is manufacturers cream and what does letting it set out for that long do? Clotted cream?
Fitzie


Fitzie,

Manufactures cream has one ingredient, cream. That is hard to find in many markets. It is usually 40% butterfat content and Pasteurized, not Ultra-Pasteurized.

Yes, it becomes clotted cream with the separated buttermilk on the bottom. I have been told that the separated buttermilk can become very sour, although I have not experienced this.

Tim

Paul's excellent immune system was developed when his dog licked his mouth and his Mom let him eat dirt in the back yard. PP mom's raise kids who are constantly getting sick; they lack the immune system that is developed by active toddlers.


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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 3:11 pm 
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Location: Ottawa, ON
My mom still tells stories about that. When I was young, we lived in the country (the real country, not the bedroom community country) and I, like make children, was sampling the various flavours of dirt. She called the doctor who said no worries, it won't hurt him, just let him be. So yeah, I ate dirt :) With the doctors permission.


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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 4:35 pm 
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Hey, if humans didn't like risk with dinner, fugu chefs would be out of work. ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2009 1:25 pm 
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Posts: 5128
Location: Portland, OR
Paul,

You're correct that the risk has to be balanced. For example, around 40,000 Americans are killed in car accidents every year ... just the number of pedestrians run over by cars is equal to the number of food-borne illness fatalities. Yet nobody mainstream is calling to ban cars (maybe they should; we kill almost as many Americans every year in cars as were killed in the Vietnam war. That's a howdy-do, eh?).

It's also very important to understand that of the around 5K annual fatalities, the largest portion are from restaurants and food carts, and the second largest are from home canning or pickling (or at least they were in 2000; stats may have changed since, links welcome). So the number of fatalities from straight ingredients or home cooking are quite small compared to the around 30 billion home-cooked meals eaten here every year. Of course fatalities doesn't include stomach attacks which just make you wish you were dead.

Anyway, unfortunately the FDA is a singularly bad agency to balance the wants of food consumers against safety. The FDA considers the commercial needs of manfacturers vs. safety, but the desires of diners doesn't enter into it. That's why things like young raw milk cheeses have made little progress in the last decade; there simply isn't a lot of money in them, except as an import, and there's a lot of money (and lobbists) in pasteurized milk cheese, so 3 fatalities 30 years ago is enough for the FDA to keep the ban in place.

In any case, given that restaurants are your biggest source of food poisoning, the FDA doesn't really matter anyway; what you should care about is your county restaurant inspection agency (and, for that matter, clean water board and sanitation department). Having worked in food service, there are a lot of "risky" foods, like raw eggs, which I would never order at a mainstream restaurant, even though I'd happily eat them at home. If I'm going to order a raw egg at an American restaurant, I want a note somewhere that it's organic, grade A, or quail egg or something else with a clean shell and a reasonable amount of care. Or to know that it's a restaurant which takes cleanliness and raw foods very seriously; a sushi bar, or a high-end Cal Cuisine place where I can peer into the kitchen.

It's all about maintaining risk of a night spent on the john to reasonable levels. Unfortunately, laws can't distinguish degrees of safety; they have to be black-or-white, legal-or-illegal.

Magazines & cookbooks, likewise, have to be paranoid about the advice they give you. If CI or CC or Saveur or Marion Cunningham advises you to cook with raw eggs or very rare meat or to re-use your cutting board without sterilizing it, then the author or publisher could be liable if you die. So these writers deliberately go overboard in advising extreme food safety just for CYA.

It's unfortunate that some home cooks don't realize this and harass others online for not following the same safety-nazi standard. But Americans have been paranoid about germs since the 50's; this is the only country I know which is causing major staph infection problems due to overuse of hand sanitizers and antibacterial soap. So while it's annoying behavior, it's not suprising; it's a mental illness of our culture.

Hmmmm ... did I have a point here? I'm not sure. Maybe I need some protein, off to eat a coddled egg. :mrgreen:

P.S. there's some recent evidence that adolescent-onset asthma and food allergies correlate with a lack of exposure to intestinal parasites. Mind you, the cure there is worse than the condition ...

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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:13 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:10 pm
Posts: 1060
Location: PA
TheFuzzy wrote:
the FDA is a singularly bad agency to balance the wants of food consumers against safety.

In a related matter, the FDA is banning the sale of raw oysters from the Gulf of Mexico between the months of May and October. The oysters will have to be irradiated and killed before going to market. About 15 people die every year in the United States from raw oysters infected with Vibrio vulnificus, which typically is found in warm coastal waters between April and October.


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 Post subject: Re: Stories about the Pathogen Police!
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:21 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 10:45 pm
Posts: 1531
Location: Ottawa, ON
As a side note, driving is dangerous but steadily getting less so. Per 100 million miles driven, there was 3.25 fatalities in 1976. In 2006, there was 1.42 fatalities per 100 million miles driven; a very significant drop. Although some companies have innovated safety measures, most of those measure reached consumers only via regulation; of course, highway designed have improved as well.

The FDA certainly does seem to hate the small producer. Their propensity for large producers has put them in a hard spot; so much of the food eaten by americans is produced by so few companies that a single serious error could have dire consequences. So the FDA regulates even more, make it even harder for small producers. Ahh, what a merry go 'round. And, of course, you never want to be the guy who eased a regulation and then saw an outbreak that was covered by that regulation (no one will care, if is is even possible to tell, if the easing had anything to do with the outbreak).

Edit: Fixed enough errors that it might make sense now.


Last edited by Paul Kierstead on Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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