Food and Grilling Safety

With more and more Americans spending time outdoors, it is no surprise that food safety and grilling are becoming more front-and-center in the news. Recent studies have revealed that if grilling is not done correctly, the food you grill and serve to your family could contain toxins, which can be dangerous to health.

Incorrect culinary preparation, particularly during barbecuing, could advance intake of toxins linked to many health problems such as heart and kidney disease, diabetes, vascular, and Alzheimer’s diseases. In fact, a recent study performed at Mount Sinai School of Medicine showed that levels of AGEs, a toxin called advanced glycation end products, are drawn into the blood stream by eating large quantities of food that is cooked by grilling, frying or broiling at temperatures that are considered too high. In otherwise healthy people, higher levels of AGEs were documented and linked to the consumption of foods prepared improperly.

What Causes Toxins in Food?

The study revealed that food preparation as well as the temperature by which the food is cooked has a direct correlation to the level of AGE toxins in food. In addition to the preparation methods of food, the study showed a significant relationship between the amount of AGEs in the diet and the level of AGEs in one’s blood. The amount of sugar, fat or calories consumed did not affect the AGE levels in the bloodstream as did the specific quantities of foods consumed which contain dangerous AGEs.

Along with the host of health problems listed, inflammation and stress have been documented to be related to high levels of AGEs in the bloodstream. Inflammation and stress are more prevalent in older individuals, therefore the purpose of the study was to determine whether AGEs played a considerable role in age-associated inflammation and stress by charting the AGE blood levels in young as well as elderly individuals.

The consequences of the study found that AGE levels could be extremely high in both the young participants of the study as well as the elderly participants. Indeed, high documented levels of AGE levels were found in some healthy adults in this research, which were on target with the AGE levels recognized in diabetic patients. The truth that hearty adults had levels resembling those seen in diabetic patients may insinuate that early and lasting exposure to AGE toxins in the diet could expedite the brunt of these diseases.

The presence of AGEs in food are very disingenuous because they give food an appealing smell and taste, according to Helen Vlassara, MD, Professor of Medicine and Geriatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and senior study author, Director of the Division of Experimental Diabetes and Aging. Dr. Vlassara refereed to the availability and intake of food with high levels of AGE with increasing documented cases of diabetes and heart disease.

How to Minimize AGE Intake When Cooking, Grilling and Eating

New barbecue grills on the market today should include a combination of ways to decrease the cooking duration and temperature, while at the same time increasing water retention.

Recommendations to reduce AGE levels in food include selecting lean foods like fish chicken or vegetables, instead of fatty meats like hamburgers or beef steaks.

Susan Goodman, a dietitian at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, recommends cooking fish, seafood or vegetables in aluminum pouches that are sealed. She says by preparing food in this manner the food is steamed, even if cooked on the grill. Foods which are excellent candidates for grilling in an aluminum pouch include vegetables such as potatoes and fresh fish with herbs which can be incorporated in the pouches for a healthy and tasty meal.

More recommendations from professionals who have studied the effects of grilling safety concur this. Tara Miller, Registered Dietitian and Program Manager for the Center for Corporate Wellness at NYU Medical Center recommends that grills be kept clean. It is imperative grills are cleaned prior to cooking because a charred grill increases food’s acclamation to dangerous toxins. Instead of marinating food with a bottled marinate or home-made rub, it is recommended that barbecue fans use vinegar, lime or lemon juice on the food prior to cooking. These items cause the food to cook faster, which in-turn allows the chef to reduce the temperature on the grill. Also, Miller makes it clear that acids from items such as vinegar, lime or lemon juice dwarf the transfer process of toxic AGEs into food.

Shopping Tips for Food Safety

Foods like meat and poultry should be added to the shopping cart immediately before checkout. This way, they have a higher tendency to remain cold. And be sure to sort raw meat and poultry separately so that they do not contaminate the other food in the shopping cart. To protect against cross-contamination which can occur when poultry and raw meat juices splash or leak on other foods, it is best to put the poultry and raw meat into plastic bags. For those that are worried about the effects of plastic bags on the environment, plastic bins with a tightly-sealed top can be brought from home to the store. The bins should be washed out with hot water and soap after removal of the meat so that the bins are safe to use again to the next grocery-store shopping excursion.

Thawing Meat

By completely thawing the meat and poultry prior to cooking, the food cooks more evenly which as an added benefit, cooks more quickly. Again, the goal is to lower the temperature on the grill so as to reduce introduction of AGE toxins. The best way to thaw meat is in the refrigerator so that the food is thawed slowly and safely. Another safe thawing alternative is to thaw food in sealed packages within cold water. If in a pinch, a microwave on defrost setting can be used to safely thaw meat as long as it is immediately cooked after thawing.

Skip the Grill

Grilling is a luxury, such as eating ice cream and cake. We are not recommending that you should skip grilling altogether, but grilling safety should be taken into consideration when planning the weekly menu. Health alternatives to grilling include boiling, steaming or stewing food.

A safe alternative to grilling is smoking food. In a professional food smoker, the cooking process is slow so that less tender meats benefit and the natural smoke flavor penetrates the food. The temperature of the smoker can be kept within a safe range of 250 to 300 degrees F.

Conclusion

Some studies indicate there may be a cancer risk associated with consuming foods that are prepared using very high-heat such as grilling, frying or broiling. However, based on recent studies, it has been found that eating moderate amount of foods such as fish, lean meat and poultry cooked at a safe temperature, without chairing, does not cause a risk.

Consult a Professional about Grilling Safety

If you have concerns about grilling safety and food safety, it is recommended that you consult a license dietitian or health care provider.

Food and Cooking Safety for Senior Adults

As well as being a fun and fascinating pastime, cooking food is as essential to survival as drinking and sleeping. Learning to cook is one of the best skills you can learn in life – so why should you stop once you reach a certain age?

If only it were that easy. Unfortunately, age brings with it several things which may have you find that handling food and cooking isn’t as easy as it used to be.

It may sound daunting, but we assure you that there are things that can be done to make sure you’re cooking and creating tasty dishes for as long as possible.

First things first; how do you know if you need a bit of help?

It’s important to remember that there are several different signs which may hint that you need assistance in the kitchen. One lesser known one may occur if you have recently left hospital for an injury or an ailment that requires you to begin practicing a different diet. If you’re used to cooking similar things every day, this can be quite jarring.

If a dietician has recently advised that you begin a new diet, it may be wish to contact a trusted care provider for assistance – a reputable firm will most likely offer some form of meal preparation service where staff will work with a doctor or healthcare professional to ensure you’re sticking to your new diet.

Or, it could be a more physical issue that is restricting your cooking abilities somewhat. It may be that your hands are starting to shake, that your memory isn’t what it used to be, or countless other ailments.

If you feel as though this applies to you, it may be a good time to contact a reputable care provider – even if it’s the smallest of things holding you back.

For example, it may be that you’re struggling to remember things. If you prefer to have a hot meal at dinner time, you may find yourself forgetting to take things out of the oven or microwave. As well as wasting food, it poses the risk of fire. Contacting a care provider doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have someone in your home 24 hours a day making sure that you don’t set your house alight – they can tailor the care programme to your needs, which may just mean them popping along on a night time to help with your dinner and offering you a bit of companionship.

Or, it may be that you do, in fact, require more constant assistance with preparing food. If you’re just struggling with the preparation of food and not using a heating appliance, a care provider may be able to prepare a batch of meals with you – which can prove to be a lot of fun – to freeze them for you to reheat in the microwave as you wish. If even more care is required, they may be able to prepare fresh meals everyday for you, as well as beverages and snacks.

It’s a lot to take in, but ask for help from care providers, healthcare professionals, and the person requiring the care, and you’ll be as right as rain in no time.

Food and Health Concerns Among People

In terms of nutrition food and health are great concern all over the world. The major concentration is on the threats exerted by kinds of foods, and how we can cut them by avoiding junk foods and modifying our daily diets. For example, many consumers avoid the white sugar as they perceive that it is harmful for health.

Many nutrition and health authorities offer guidance for people to avoid health problems associated with over or under-consumption of certain foods. However, it largely depends on the attitude of the people to their food intake and health.

There is no specific way to find out individual food concern. Many people express their concern many ways that are not familiar to them such as; additives receive more attention than the fat because people have less control over additives. So, people of different ages, gender and educational background will differ in health and food issues as their familiarity and control are different.

Women are more conscious about food and health issues than men. They are largely responsible for cooking of food for child as well as all for other family members. Moreover, during shopping they have to harmonize the price of foods and nutrition needs of all the members of family.

In Australia, majority (80%) of the shopper of main foods are women. Similarly, elderly and middle-aged people have more experience about food associated health diseases. So, they concern more about this issue than the young people.

People who received higher education are more familiar and have more control over different issues. In contrast, uneducated people mostly take cheap and poor quality foods. Consequently, they face more health problems. So, they should be more concern about most issues.

Shopping survey study conducted in Australia and New Zealand found some interesting information in the issue. In Australia, safety issues get most concern along with reliability of food labels, ecological issues. However, concern about heart disease and cancer linked to food get medium ranking.

In general, women show greater concern than men. People who continue their study till the age of 16 expressed two main concerns; one is lubricating TV advertise of junk food and it impacts on children and another one is packaging of foods.

Older people have diverse concern than other age group. They are aware of cleaning, bacteria, fruit waxing, safe drinking water, manufacturing company, import and long distance transport of foods, poverty in Australia and other countries. However they pay less attention in reliability of food labels.

The consumers’ concerns in New Zealand showed similar patterns as in Australia. Women are mostly (75%) engaged in food shopping. Here safety issues are dominating concern of people while concern for poor people and other got medium and food associated heart disease and cancer got lest concern.

Concern of people older than 45 years ranged from food regulation, fat-containing foods, shortage of home-made foods, chemical residues, real cost of food production, and wastage of food to food-scarcity in poor countries. Interestingly, younger people are more concern about the time spends in shopping.

People show a broad range of concern in food and health issues but the underlying dimensions are relatively small and embrace the personal food and health safety issues, sympathy for others and factors related to food systems that consumers are unable to control.

Some Basic Preparing and Cooking Safety Rules

Microwaves are very useful but you still need to be careful with a few safety tips. While warming food in a microwave, always cover the food with plastic wrap or a cover, leaving some room for steam to escape. The steam that is generated will help to cook the food properly. Make sure to stir the food while you are heating because microwaves don’t heat evenly and you want to avoid cold spots. If you want to cook some food partially in the microwave prior to adding to a dish, cook that dish immediately and don’t leave food half-cooked. And by all means, always use a thermometer to check the temperature in several places to make sure that the safe minimum temperatures for all foods are reached and maintained for the required times.

When you marinate meats, poultry or fish, always do it in the refrigerator. This way you avoid the risk of bacteria growing at room temperature and can marinade the food for several hours or even days to enhance the flavor. If you are going to use some of the marinade as a sauce, never use the portion that is left over from marinading the meat and always keep a portion on the side to use for this purpose. Discard any unused marinade right away. Marinades can become acidic, so never marinate meat in a metal container.

Grilling meats, fish and poultry gives the look of being cooked because of the charring but this may be very deceptive. Make sure that you use a thermometer to check the insides of the food because that is the only safe way to be sure that it has reached the minimum safe temperature. A lot of times, it is a very good idea to zap the food in the a microwave or otherwise partially cook it in an oven or on the stove before you actually grill the meat. This not only reduces the chances of leaving the insides uncooked but also reduces cooking time the the possibility of cooking the outsides too much. However, if you do pre-cook before grilling, make sure to keep the grill pre heated and then finish the cooking immediately. Never leave the pre-cooked food at room temperature for more than a few minutes. Naturally, you don’t want to put the cooked meat into the same plate that held the uncooked meat unless you have thoroughly washed the plate with hot water and soap and dried it completely.

Food and Water Safety After a Flood

Floods are the most frequent natural hazard in North America and we seem to have had to endure quite a number of them recently.

A devastating flood can occur at any time of the year and are most often caused by heavy rainfall, rapid melting of a thick snow pack, ice jams, or more rarely, the failure of a natural or man-made dam.

One of the major issues that will affect everyone living in an area that has been flooded is that of food and water safety.

Food safety after a flood

If in doubt – Throw it out!

You must inspect food that has come anywhere near flood water very, very carefully. Flood waters may carry contaminated mud, chemical waste, petroleum products and even raw sewage, which can make storm-damaged foods unsafe to eat.

Even the slightest contact with floodwater can lead to contamination. There is a simple, basic rule: all foods that have touched floodwater should be dispose of. This includes all fresh produce, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. Food in glass jars, including all unopened jars. Discard all foods in bags and all opened containers and packages.

The only exception to this rule would be food in sealed in undamaged metal cans. These are safe for use, as long as you carefully clean and disinfect the cans before opening.

This means you must remove the labels and thoroughly wash them with a scrub brush in a strong detergent solution containing chlorine bleach and then rinse well in clear water. The bleach solution should be one half-cup of bleach to one gallon of water. You may wish to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands during this process.

Being Prepared

This brings up the issue of being prepared for a disaster. Nothing will help you and your family through any emergency situation as will being prepared for it.

It may be up to three days before Emergency Services are up and running in your area. Having an emergency preparedness kit, stored high and dry, can literally be a lifesaver.

A supply of Food, drinking water and some additional gear such as Light sticks, Dynamo FM Radio, Flashlight, Hygiene Kit, Waterproof Matches, Emergency Candles, Sanitation Kit and First Aid supplies will be priceless to you and your family.

Cookware and Cooking Utensils

If your cookware and kitchen utensils have come into contact with floodwater, they will require special treatment.

Take apart any item that can be cleaned in pieces. If possible, remove handles from pans.

Wash all china, glass dishes, cups and pots and pans that have been in contact with floodwaters.

Use hot soapy water and a brush to remove dirt. Rinse and then place them in a sanitizing bleach solution for at least 10 minutes and then rinse well in clean water. The bleach solution should be one half-cup of bleach to one gallon of water.

Disinfect silverware, metal utensils, and pots and pans by boiling in clean water for 10 minutes.

Chlorine bleach should not be used in this case because it reacts with many metals and causes them to darken. Throw away dishes with cracks as well as soft, porous plastic or wood items saturated by floodwater, since they cannot be sanitized. These include baby bottles, nipples and pacifiers. They cannot be safely disinfected.

Potable Water

Water; water everywhere and not a drop to drink!

After a flood, you should assume that all water sources are contaminated until they have been proven safe.

Boil all rain and tap water and water from containers you’re not completely sure about. Use only bottled, boiled, or treated water for drinking, cooking or preparing food, washing dishes, cleaning, brushing your teeth, washing your hands, making ice, and bathing until your water supply is tested and found safe.

There are also a few excellent Water Filtration Bottles and Emergency Water Filters on the market that are very effective at producing clean drinking water from almost any water source. These are the same systems that were used by the US military during the Katrina disaster.

If you use a private well for your water supply, be sure to have the water tested before you resume use. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to wash your hands if you have a limited supply of clean water.

Floodwater

Avoid contact with floodwater if at all possible, but if you find yourself wading into the floodwater during or after the disaster, remember that you will be in contact with many harmful contaminants that can make you sick. Always wash after contact with floodwater.