I’ve been lucky so far – am only now experiencing my first cold of the year. I think the H1N1 scare and handwashing efforts helped a lot in making people more aware about their own hand hygiene and health. But even though I feel (and look) like crap right now, I also am thankful I have sick days. That is not the case for many working part time in the foodservice industry. If they don’t work – they don’t get paid.
Yes, it was Super Bowl weekend but I opted out of football watching and took a stab at de-cluttering as many of the January editions of magazines had advised. I attacked kitchen drawers and cupboards (and was amazed at the reproduction capabilities of plastic food storage containers!). Scattered in several of the kitchen drawers were food thermometers. Every kitchen needs these – but I wondered if they were accurate (as likely had been jostled or dropped a time or two).
What to do? Calibrate! That sounds harder than it is.
- Simply fill a wide mouthed glass container with crushed ice and measure the temperature.
- The dial should read 32˚ F (several of the ones I had did not).
- If reading is out of whack, turn the screw under the dial until 32˚ F is shown.
Kitchen magic in action and potential FBIs averted because proper end point cooking temperatures are reached. Need a thermometer for your kitchen? The first 3 readers from the United States to email me with a comment on this blog (or others) will receive one free of charge.
Another multi-state outbreak – this time of the bacteria salmonella with the suspected food item being pepper in one brand of salami. No question, many consumers do NOT trust the modern food system, in particular the large multi-national agri-business companies. Each country has its own standards and regulations for food safety; and it is impossible for all imported foods to be inspected. Increases in organic food sales, number of farmers markets, interest in buying local foods and best seller books about living off the land provide evidence that there is lack of trust.
How important is trust? A recent research study conducted at Iowa State University (ISU) shows that for consumers to trust farmers, confidence is four to five times more important that competence. This study appeared in the recent issue of Journal of the Rural Sociological Society. Lead researcher Stephen Sapp says “The things Americans care about the most are honesty and integrity.” Sadly, many Americans don’t know much about where their food comes from and who is producing it. If they are lucky enough to know farmers and livestock producers, then I think they would agree our food producers are honest people with a great deal of integrity. Could be why the “food with a face” concept is so appealing. But there is no evidence that the food is actually safer.
But why isn’t there trust in the safety of our food supply? There are certainly enough regulations. Does the sensationalism from media attention cause lack of confidence? Are consumer expectations too high – come on, is it possible to produce food with zero risk? What is the source of information? Just like your parents used to pin you down on the latest rumor and where it originated – ask “who says”? A person with a doctorate in History is an expert on say, the Great Depression, but not an expert in food safety.