Food Microbiology
Part III

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Previously, We Wrote....

    Because of the special importance of The Microbiology of Foods in relationship to what is striking this planet now—and will be increasing in frequency and ferocity, and the globalization of food and what it brings with it: foodborne illness, this document will be rather lengthy and divided into several sections, to be published over succeeding months.

    Of major importance, throughout all this Chaos and Confusion coming, one wants to keep his health in good shape; and, if possible, improve his health. Of primary importance, one needs to know and understand something of the nature of the microbiology of foods and how to keep microorganisms under control. Food will, once more in man's history on earth, become of prime concern in having it. The food he comes by in the immediate and ongoing future demands that it be wholesome, nutritious, and relatively free of pathogenic microorganisms. If not, health will deteriorate and be difficult to maintain. We are now moving into a period modern man has never before experienced.

    Up to the present, for at least the past 150 years, food became more and more easily obtained and various government bodies came into operation for judging its safety by passing laws to make food more healthy and relatively free of harmful disease producing microbes. But, some things are breaking down as more and more foodborne illnesses are being reported periodically, such as contaminated ground meat with salmonella and Escherichia coli. And we must not leave out Clostridium botulinum, the microbe that produces a neurotoxin. All are on the increase, it appears. They are making, or will be making, their debut as emerging viruses and diseases. But, when push come to shove, these diseases will present themselves as never before because people do not know how to take care of themselves, nor what to do in food preparation, and on reheating foods.

    This globalization of foodstuffs such that we can have out–of–season fruits and vegetables not only has brought use more food, but, it appears more foodborne illness. Ground meat, unless ground before your eyes from one cow, generally is produced from 300 to 500 animals from all over the world. Do not get taken in by the words Organic Produce and Meat. China has now entered the so–called "health food industry."

    When we speak of food, we also are speaking of potable (drinkable) water.

    As more and more people populate the land and as food supplies are strained to feed all the masses and are now beginning to won't become fully aware of this until 2011...and as potable water diminishes for crop growing, and as the weather becomes more inclement, and as the emerging viruses and diseases against food and man increase, it is now imperative that one understands something of The Microbiology of Foods.

    This projects into water purification and sterilization of foodstuffs.

...and now...we write...

Things You Must Know

    As days become hotter or colder with seasonal variances, there are certain foods it would be wise to avoid. For instance, if you make; or, are presented with the following foods, you want to make sure that they were (1) made under extremely sanitary conditions. You do not want cross-contamination. Were (2) they made quickly and placed in the refrigerator within minutes of preparation? If eating out, or at a restaurant, school or college campus or commercial establishment, and you do not know the conditions of storage, do not eat from the list that follows.

    For instance, it's late in the evening, you are invited to dinner or go to a diner, campus restaurant, or eat at home. It can also be warm or cool in the surroundings. How long has the food been out of the refrigerator?

This is key. Thus, it behooves one to know the following and avoid these foods:
  • Egg salad, chicken salad, or tuna salad that has not been well–refrigerated and just brought to the table, may harbor Salmonella species or some other microbial species.

  • Be wary of ham slices or links and sausages, including frankfurters. They can be a veritable haven for bacterial growth.

  • Salad dressings that have become warm and not just removed from the refrigerator, but have been sitting out with the salad makings in the warm temperatures. Remember, if the room is even air conditioned, it is not the same as the interior of a refrigerator with 50 C. Microbes can commence growing.

    People handling foodstuffs that are coughing, sneezing, snorting and sniffing. These actions can lead to contamination. Hopefully the salad makings were cleaned and chopped on a disinfected board not used for anything else, such as cutting meat or preparing hamburger first and not wash throughly and disinfected with bleach. When disinfecting with bleach, allow a few minutes for the bleach to work; then rinse throughly.

    Else, cross–contamination could occur. This is the process whereby one substance, the meat in this case, is contaminated with certain microbes, and then, these germs are communicated or transferred to another surface, such as the cutting board, then clean food is placed on the contaminated cutting board.

    Always assume contamination is present when working with raw meat!

    Disinfect with plain, unscented bleach in the following manner:

    • Prewash the surface and wipe dry.

    • Add 3/4 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water.

    • Then apply bleach solution to the prewashed and dried surface.

    • Let it stand for 5 minutes.

    • Rinse and let air dry.

      See Video Here

  • Cream pies that are unrefrigerated and left over. Toppings and cream fillings used in baked goods are a perfect haven for microbes to grow. The physical and chemical conditions are excellent for Salmonella bacterial growth. Cream that has been whipped may have Streptococcus organisms as well as Lactobacillus species. These microbes can sour the food as they produce lactic acid and vinegar. Fungi grow well in acid conditions if the sugar content is high, as in chocolate and other toppings and icings. In the summer warm months, refrigerate such items. Do similar in cold months.

  • Be careful of eating such foods! Foodborne illness will be and already is escalating.

    A note of caution on fish. Spoilage of this food can often be caused by the waters from which they were taken or placed after catching. This following point is of importance: The tissues of fish spoil quickly as they are not dense, as in a roast. The tissues are easily infiltrated by microbes. Fish are cold blooded with few exceptions. Cold–blooded means their internal body temperature changes as the surrounding temperature changes.

    And it follows that since fish change according to their surrounding environment, bacteria in fish also adapt to the cold environment. Fish live in this cold environment and thus cooling does not affect the viability of the bacteria. Therefore, refrigerator temperatures do not retard bacterial growth in fish very much. It would be most advisable when purchasing or catching and cleaning fish to place them in the freezer immediately. Do not place them in the refrigerator compartment except for only a short time. Place them in the coldest, highest part beneath the freezer; then, as soon as possible, transfer the fish to the freezer.

Meat And Fish

    Here's a problem that causes problems with meat, fish, and liver:

It's a hot day. You have a number of errands to do. They consist of going to the supermarket, stopping at the post office to mail packages, dropping clothes off at the cleaners, gassing up your vehicle, and picking up the kids at school. What order is the most advantageous, microbiologically, that is, for you to observe in running this list of errands?

The answer: Any order of performing the errands, such that going to the supermarket is done last on the way home. This way you minimize time for food spoilage in the hot automobile while doing the other chores, such that microbial grow can commence and ratchet upwards, creating food spoilage. Often times, we see people stop in the middle of their chores to purchase highly perishable items and then continue the errands.

    Dense meat is not easily penetrated by germs. Porous liver is highly penetrable; the same as sweetbreads (pancreas, kidney, brain, thymus). Fish has flaky flesh and spoils readily.

    Normally, fish and meats do not have contamination because the muscle meats of healthy animals are normally sterile. Spoilage—when food are altered from their normal taste, smell, and appearance, occurs because of packaging, storage conditions, processing, and how the meat was handled. Was it contaminated at the slaughter house by humans who opened the animal up and nicked the intestines causing Escherichia coli or other bacteria to contaminate the meat? Ground meat then have the bacteria on the meat surface, which then contaminate the grinder's teeth. Airborne bacteria can fall onto the ground meat. It is porous and is a good home for microbial growth.

    Cook such meats beyond the "pink" in the center stage. If the preparer has Staphylococcus aureus in his nose; coughs and sneezes; or, is sniffling, food can become contaminated.

    Many hunters now prepare their own meats. Within a year or two, more people will be doing as such from any wild game to be found when food shortages occur. If the meat preparers grind their own meat, wash and clean, then freeze the grinder, this is not good enough. Bacterial growth can still occur if the teeth of the grinder have not been disinfected. See above on how to do this.

    One must be careful when making sausage. The casings used by home sausage makers may be natural, and thus, comes from the intestines of animals. The intestines can, and often do, harbor E. coli, and other pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria. Therefore any processed meat, such as sausages, luncheon meats (pressed meat), wieners (frankfurters). These "organic" sausages and salamis, if packed densely and not left porous, are a ripe setting for no oxygen and the germination of Clostridium botulinum, if present. The botulinus toxin is released into the sausages, salami, and franks, causing botulism.

    From what is given, you can see that meat items like sausages, if densely packed, Clostridium botulinum could have a breeding ground for growth. And, if loosely packed, as in certain organ meats, kidneys, thymus, pancreas, and liver, meat items can spoil quickly.

    From all this, one immediately sees that certain foods should be cooked quickly or frozen. And the cooking of any foods now should be very thorough.

    Dense meats can develop "greening" on the outer surface. Two bacterias are generally responsible: Leuconostoc, a gram positive coccus bacteria and Lactobacillus. The meat pigments, due to the blood, are reacted upon by the microbes and the end product is the green color on the meat surface.

    One can wash this off with a brush and water, dunk in a bleach solution and leave the solution on the meat for 5 minutes or so, rinse well and cook. The green color does no harm to the consumer.

    The same thing can happen on the casings in bologna, salami, franks, and other casing packed meat. In this case, the meat sours and presents with an off taste. The more the Streptococcus bacteria species develop, the stronger the acid (sour) taste becomes, such that it is not edible and becomes also like smelly, sour milk. If rancidity sets in because of the fat in the meat, the product is very foul tasting and can even burn the lips and mucus membranes of the mouth. By the time the foods reach this stage, the "nose knows," and warns you to stay away from it.

    As you read of Molds in Part II, molds grow well in jams and jellies, with their high sugar and acid content, and high osmotic pressure, developed from the sugar present in such foods. These foods, as well as other grains, fruits, and vegetables support mold growth. The high osmotic pressure, acid, and sugar of jams and jellies, discourage bacterial growth. Molds also can grow on the surfaces of fresh red meat that has been allowed to become dry. More of this will be presented in a later issue.

    Food is going to become a very important issue in the immediate future. It will dwarf anything the government has ever considered. Everyone will be asking, "How did this happen?" Finger pointing is going to be heavy. Stay out of it. Be prepared with this knowledge being given, and with a pressure cooker to sterilize food when the issues of contamination become paramount to anything else. Sterilize (cook in pressure cooker) at 15 lbs. per square inch for at least 15 minutes from the time the pressure weight begins to jingle.

    Foods low in acid and carbohydrates are good substrates for bacterial growth. Meats and certain other foods are a good haven for the growth of bacteria. Mold will be outgrown in such foods that support bacteria. The rapidly growing bacteria in such foods, as in meat and others, tend to suppress mold growth.

    As food becomes scarce, by knowing something of The Microbiology of Foods, one must take more and more precautions to avoid spoilage of their food supply.

    This entails keeping oxygen out, moisture to a minimum, high pH, controlling temperatures that microbes grow at, being apprised of the physical structure of foods, and the chemical composition. The latter entails knowning that fruits, starches, and sugars tend to attract carbohydrate digesting mold. Molds can often be found on stored potatoes, corn, and rice products that have not been prepared properly. Or, once removed from storage, not controlling the conditions affecting spoilage. If refrigeration is sporadic or nonexistent, cook thoroughly only just enough food for that meal. Have only one or two other people that you can trust in control of the food supply chain. If you do not control the latter, waste will become the item of the day and your foodstuffs will dwindle rapidly.

    It will be hard enough for family members who are used to little to no discipline. Guests during this time will present a horrendous logistics problem in maintaining your food supply throughout the ensuing months, when this goes down in earnest soon. Do you really want someone with their untrained brats screaming constantly, "I'm hungry!" Why didn't you eat your breakfast?" You ask. "It's still in the garbage, spoiled now and wasted." You are to blame if you allow this to happen.

    Someone may come bringing their five small house dogs, and you must win the argument and keep them outside. Since they are house pets, they will likely howl all night, keeping you awake. Why let a guest with pets in your domicile in the first place? That is too damn many pets for one person. We all know several people like this. Did you provide food for their pets? How are you going to respond when the person says, "I'll give them some of my food?" Do you believe this will happen?

    Bacterial cells will be protein digesters; which may present with a greenish appearance on the meat from their reaction with the pigment of the meats. As you learned, this appearance causes no bodily harm. If you are hungry enough and food is in short shrift, wash off the green slime and cook thoroughly. Do this anyway, so you will not waste food.

    The food may present with a foul–smelling sourness. This is found quite often on chickens that have been thawed in the refrigerator and allowed to sit for a few days to a week before cooking. The test is simple: Turn up some skin with its fat. Then sniff closely. If sour, it will smell strongly of an aged chicken. What you are smelling is chicken fat becoming rancid. You can still eat the chicken. This is what Chef Charles urges one to do:

    Skin the chicken with its fat. Remove body cavity fat. Halve the chicken, then with sissors, remove any fat clinging to body parts. Now, smell the pile of fat! Very rank! Very sour! Full of rancidity! This is oxygen and/or microbes at work. Discard. Wash the defatted chicken parts very well, then smell. You will detect hardly a trace of sourness! Cook thoroughly with herbs and seasonings and eat.

    Know well, that fat is marbled more or less throughout any meat. This fat also becomes rancid, but the surface fat more so and generally first to give the tell tale signs of its rancidity to your nose. If resources are still rather plentiful, such as heat and water, you can place the chicken parts in a skillet over moderate heat; add a little water, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes dissolving out the fat and the rancidity. Remove from the heat, discard the cooking water, rinse the chicken well in warm to hot water, wash the skillet, then finish cooking the chicken with herbs and other seasonings, a little unrefined coconut oil and fresh water and white wine. The rancidity and its toxicity are gone.

    Now, if the meat presents with a feces odor, this meat is rotting and being digested by certain bacterial species, protein digesters. They breakdown the protein into its constitutent amino acids. The amino acid tryptophan(e), when digested, yields skatole and indole. These chemical breakdown products give the characteristic odor to human feces. In other words, what is occuring in your colon, is occurring in the meat you want to eat if you smell this particular odor. Do not eat; or, you'll be eating some aspect of s..t. Avoid and discard.

    Some think Blanching vegetables in boiling water for for a few minutes is sterilization. It is not! "Blanching cleanses off surface dirt and microorganisms, brightens the color, helps retain vitamins and reduces the action of enzymes which can destroy the fresh flavor after four weeks." —Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.

    Blanching also shrinks the vegetables by driving out moisture and some gasses to make home canning packing easier.

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In An UpComing Issue:
Food Microbiology: Part IV

Something You Need To Know For What's Coming

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