“Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And Summer's lease hath all too short a date” William Shakespeare.
Summer blisters with all the amusing activities on the sea, the mountain views, the delicious barbeques, the night camping, and the porch’s reckless meetings….These cheerful moments fleet away quickly. And just like summer’s beauty described by Shakespeare as having a short “lease” date , so does the food during summer. Summer heat affects majorly the food we eat.( esp. in Lebanon where electricity goes out )
It causes bacteria to grow at a faster rate making food rotten and spoiled. Apart from the high temperatures, another reason behind this is simply not handling the food properly and hygienically. Consequently, the risk of developing diseases from food poisonings increases and our health becomes jeopardized. ( Read more about Food Poisoning )
Vigilance is the key when purchasing and preserving food, as well when we are eating out in restaurants.
- Always check color, smell, taste of food, and the expiry date and conditions for food. ( More about the Shelf life of food and their expiration dates)
- Do not leave food exposed in the sun or to insects, and maintain the proper storage conditions.
- Place the perishable foods that require maintenance under refrigeration, and refrigerate as soon as possible after purchase. Juices and water should be stored in refrigerated or cool and shady places, away from the sun.
- If you are in Lebanon and suffering from electricity shortage , try not to open the fridge doors alot. You can fill plastic tablewares with water and ice them and use them later to keep your food cold for the longest period possible when electricity goes out.
- When buying ice-cream from street vendors, you can’t possibly check that fridges are operating below 18 °C, but you can always recognize that they are not exposed to the sun, they are airtight and that ice is not formed inside.
- And if you buy commercially produced ice creams, check for any defect in their packaging such as deformed or torn packaging. These defects suggest that the cabinet is not fully operational causing the ice to be partially thawed, or that ice cream was mishandled during transfer and storage.
- It is also crucial to check the expiration dates (that I explained before).
- One easy tip to do before the consumption of ice cream is to scrutinize for crystals that may form causing discolored areas. This is an indication of thawing and refreezing which are favorable for microbial growth.
- Leaving raw meat to touch or drip on other foods is not encouraged. Always use utensils (knives, cutting surfaces, dishes) specific for raw meat and different for cooked foods.
- Wash hands thoroughly after handling raw meat. Frozen meat should be thawed thoroughly.
- Cross contamination can occur from the raw food to the cooked food or the dishes and thus bacteria such as salmonella, coliform, etc can cause food poisoning. That’s why food must be well done and that meat for example, should be cooked inside. Sometimes the meat is burnt on the outside but this doesn’t mean it is well cooked inside. For this cook it evenly and turn it frequently at a constant temperature.
- When buying food from the canteens, street vendors and restaurants, choose branches that appear to apply the necessary hygienic measures for food safety.
- Check for HACCP or ISO certificates hanged on their walls.
- If you are grabbing a ready to eat sandwich (with ham, cheese, eggs, salads or sauces) ensure that they were kept in the refrigerator.
- Prepared snacks (pizzas& spinach) must be sustained at a temperature above 60°C. As for salads, especially from salad bars, they have to be held under refrigeration and covered under special showcases.
- Don’t forget to replenish your body with lots of water to avoid dehydration.
- Reduce soft drinks’ consumption that contain a lot of sugar, and diversify your diet from colorful vegetables to fruits!
Do you have any suggestions? How are you preserving your food in this heat?