What is Food Safety and Kitchen Employees…

Food Safety is a scientific discipline that describes handling, preparation and storage of food in ways that prevent food borne illnesses. Food borne illnesses are caused by microorganisms found on or within the food. Such microbes have great chances of spreading around the kitchen; causing cross contamination to other ready to eat foods.

This discipline is maintained through following specific and precise rules and regulations; that are subsequently protected by preventive food safety programs such as the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point); which mainly analyze potential hazards that may occur and sets corrective measures before the hazard occurs.

To a great extent the key to fulfill this discipline lie within a well trained kitchen staff. Kitchen employees ought to have the knowledge and comprehension of Food Safety and of its preventive programs.

The basics of Food Safety, every employee must know, are Kitchen Safety and Food Hygiene that includes:

1.General overview of the kitchen: floors, walls, windows, doors, building, facility, ventilation, lighting, plumbing and water, and how to react in emergencies (fire, electricity etc).
2.Waste Disposal: types, location, cover, cleaning, maintenance, and frequency of emptying.
3.Cleaning and Sanitizing Operations: principles and application of cleaning procedures; detergents, disinfectants, anti-bacterial cleaners and sanitizers use.
4.Employees Personal Hygiene: personal appearance, personal actions and habits (uniforms, hairnets, gloves, makeup, perfumes, jewelry, eating, smoking, illness and injury), washing hands.
5.Food Hygiene: following the flow of food (meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, fruits and vegetables) from receiving, to storage (wet and dry), to preparation, to packaging and finally serving.

Every employee is responsibile to maintain Food Safety from the Farm to the Fork, yet this is not only the responsibilty of individuals or groups; organizations and the goverment has an important role in spreading Food Safety education to decrease risks and prevent outbreaks…

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/

Sumac and Lebanese Cuisine

Sumac is the berries of a shrub that mainly grows in the Mediterranean area. It is well known in all regions and harvested from almost all the mountains of Lebanon.

The sumac hangs on the branches of the shrub as clusters of dark red balls.

Sumac is harvested during the month of August, they are harvested during this season and then they are sun dried, the drying process can take several days up to weeks, when the sumac is completely dried; it is then grounded into a coarse powder. The main purpose of drying the sumac is to be able to use it during winter times.

The grounded sumac has a strong astringent acidic taste, where it’s used as a seasoning and a souring flavouring agent in the Lebanese cuisine, mainly in the “meza”. For example, the traditional Lebanese salad “fattouch” is characteristically served with sumac sprinkled on top. Traditionally, it was used with fried eggs, kabab, in stuffing { Fatayer ex. Fatayer Sulik}, and the famous Lebanese thyme mankoushe, others also add it to the tabboule salad.

Moreover, it is can be used as a substitute for lemon juice in salad dressing, and can also be added to meat and chicken marinades.

Sumac has considerable amounts of potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, some antioxidants (such as Tanin), and around 140Kcal per 100g. Some say it’s used as a herbal remedy for urinary disorders (yet I still don’t have any scientific evidence).

Pineapples, Bromelain and Induced Labor…

In a coffee shop…
Sitting with my cousin “Pineapple”…

“Pineapple”
I’m pregnant…

“Blue Strawberry”
Oh that’s great… what month???

“Pineapple”
2 months… I always feel like eating juicy fruits and sweets… but I heard that pineapples are bad… is it true??? Is it safe to eat pineapples during pregnancy???

Pineapples are fruits that are rich in vitamins (mainly VC), minerals, and fibers; they support the digestive system, and act as diuretics. They can be eaten raw, processed, canned, and used in cooking as fruit pieces or as juices…

Raw pineapples contain an enzyme named Bromelain, this enzyme breaks down protein. That’s why raw pineapples are widely used in meat marinades to soften and tenderize meats…

On the other hand, raw pineapples can affect the preparation of protein foods such as gelatin-based foods like Jello. That’s why when preparing Jello, it’s always recommended to use canned/processed pineapples; because canning and processing degrade the Bromelain enzyme making it ineffective…

Pineapples are delicious, healthy and nutritious…

But is it SAFE during Pregnancy???

Due to the presence of the Bromelain enzyme, consumption of LARGE amounts (~ 6-7 fruits) of RAW pineapples/pineapple juices during pregnancy can lead to diarrhea, and may possibly soften the cervix, leading to uterine contractions that in turn induce labor. Thus, it’s advisable to eat a moderate amount of pineapples during pregnancy, especially during early stages…

Pineapples have small amounts of Bromelain that can be safe in moderate amounts. In some cases; pineapples are used as a remedy, specifically in late labored women to induce the labor…

Limit the intake especially during your first months but, keep in mind, the DOSE differentiates between a remedy and a poison…

Children… Eczema… and Diet

Yesterday night I received an email from “Eggplant”…

“Eggplant”

Dear Blue Strawberry…
Hope this email finds you well…
I have two children and they both have eczema…
Do you have any food/nutrition recommendations related to eczema???
I’m a bit worried…

“Blue Strawberry”

Well… first I need to know if your children have any food allergies… however for now it’s good to know that…

Most children with eczema do not have any reactions to food. Though, in some children, food allergies
may prompt some skin reactions.

The diet for eczema varies depending on the sensitivity of the child towards certain foods.
For example, milk may prompt eczema in some children, while it is safe for other children.
Thus, the diets vary from one child to another.

For me to plan a food related eczema diet, the first important step, is to identify the type
of foods that might affect the eczema.

I’ll give you a list of items that MIGHT trigger some reactions:

Milk and dairy product: Milk, cheeses, yogurt, chocolate that contains cow’s milk…
Wheat based products and cereals: Bread, crackers, donuts, pancakes, barley, oats and rye…
Nuts: Peanuts, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts and pistachios…
Seafood: Shellfish, salmon, tuna, lobster, mussels, crabs…
Acidic fruits: Orange, lemon, strawberries, plumps, blueberries, prunes and tomatoes…
Eggs and soy products
Food colorings and food additives: Sodium benzoate, glutamate, tartrazine…

I can’t surely detect what is relevant to your children; nevertheless I insist that you get back
to your children doctor… and upon the doctor’s prescriptions, tests etc… we can move forward to the next step…

Star Fruit… Just Beautiful

The Star Fruit, also known as “Carambola” mostly found in countries such as India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia etc. When the fruit is cut in cross-section it looks like a five pointed star, that’s why it’s called “Star Fruit”.

It has a sour to sweet juicy taste; it’s green from the outside with a yellowish flesh and black brownish seeds in the center.

Nutrition and Health Benefits:

Star Fruit is rich in Vitamin C, Potassium, Dietary Fiber, Calcium; and is low in calories and sodium.

1.Vitamin C: antioxidant property that destroys free radicals preventing lipid oxidation (ex. can prevent cancer).
2.Potassium: helps prevent muscle cramps.
3.Dietary Fiber: prevent constipation.
4.Calcium: strengthens bones and teeth.
5.Calories: 1 cup of Star Fruit contains about 40 calories.

Caution:

Kidney failure, kidney stones, and kidney dialysis patients:

Star Fruit contains a considerable amount of oxalic acid. Oxalic Acid can be harmful to kidney failure, kidney stones, and kidney dialysis patients. Thus, if star fruit is consumed by such patients can lead to vomiting, nausea, impaired consciousness/mental confusion etc.
Moreover, it can also lead to hyperkalemia; which describes the high potassium electrolyte concentration in the blood; that in turn results in heart muscle weakness leading to abnormality of the heart beats….

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