Editor’s Platform: Colonel Colon and his League of Faecal Fighters will soon be available to help make your food safer
Over a decade ago, the mother of two clients who both developed acute kidney failure after consuming E.coli O157: Spinach contaminated with H7 sent me an unexpected gift. The outbreak has sickened more than 205 people, killing five, sending hundreds to hospital, many with life-altering complications. The gift was a bobble head that looked like a younger version of me. On the base it read: “Colonel Colon and his League of Faecal Fighters.” It’s on my desk today.
I’ve always thought of doing something with the giveaway, and with the talent of my amazing niece, Janae Dueck, and borrowing from the work of the good food people at the FDA and FSIS, and the idea is brewing. a way to help educate us all to be faecal fighters.
Over the next year we will be working on a comic, a cartoon video about the adventures of these superheroes and a food safety jingle (thanks to my friend Vincent).
So let me introduce you to the League.
Colonel Colon (above) is the leader of four Fecal Fighters: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. Everyone is a superhero, but Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill have unique superpowers.
Here are the details.
- Wash your hands and surfaces often.
- Germs that cause food poisoning can survive in many places and spread through your kitchen.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before, during and after preparing food and before eating.
- Wash your utensils, cutting boards and countertops with hot soapy water.
- Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water.
- Meat, poultry, seafood, and raw eggs can spread germs to ready-to-eat foods unless you keep them separate.
- Use separate cutting boards and plates for raw meat, poultry and seafood.
- When shopping, keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and their juices separate from other foods.
- Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from all other foods in the refrigerator.
- Food is cooked safely when the internal temperature is high enough to kill germs that can make you sick. The only way to know if food is cooked safely is to use a food thermometer. You cannot tell if food is cooked safely by checking its color and texture.
- Use a food thermometer to ensure food is cooked to a safe internal temperature. See this chart for a detailed list of temperatures and foods, including shellfish and pre-cooked ham.
- Whole cuts of beef, veal, lamb and pork, including fresh (raw) ham: 145°F (then let meat rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)
- Finfish: 145°F or cook until flesh is opaque
- Ground meats, such as beef and pork: 160°F
- All poultry, including ground chicken and turkey: 165°F
- Leftovers and casseroles: 165°F
- Bacteria can multiply rapidly if left at room temperature or in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 140°F. Never leave perishables outside for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour if exposed to temperatures above 90°F).
- Keep your refrigerator at or below 40°F and know when to throw away food.
- Refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours. If food is exposed to temperatures over 90°F (like a hot car or picnic), refrigerate it within an hour.
- Thaw frozen foods safely in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave. Never thaw food on the counter because bacteria multiply quickly in parts of food that reach room temperature.