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Valentine’s Day Food Safety

Posted in Food Safety on February 14, 2019

Love is in the air again ladies and gentlemen. It’s that time of year where we consider how much we love the ones in our lives and shower them with expensive gifts and candies. Wait a minute! Shouldn’t that be every day? My wife would say yes, as would I. Yes, Valentine’s Day is a National Holiday, and we should pay special attention (don’t forget this day guys if you want to keep your lady happy). But I believe every day should be a day to celebrate love.

However, our plan on spending this Valentine’s Day, there is one integral part we need to consider: food safety. I know I know … this is supposed to be a time of love and laughter and diamonds and chocolate. Let me paint you a picture though.

You have an amazing afternoon with your significant other. The two of you exchange gifts and cards proclaiming your feelings. The dinner you either prepare or pay for is not only delicious but your favorite things to eat. Then, when you get home, it is time for the intimate part of the evening. Then your stomach rumbles. Uh oh. You have to make a mad dash to the bathroom and spend the rest of your romantic evening locked away with the toilet.

Great mental picture right? No? Then maybe we need to remember that even though we are having a great Valentine’s Day, there is something so simple we can do in order to make our night complete: consider being safe when it comes to what we eat.

Splitting this into two sections seems the right way to go. First, we will discuss eating out. The dangers, plus tips to make sure we can have a pleasant evening. Second, if you decide to cook there are a few things to remember as well. In order to make the most of this special day, let’s dive in.

Eating Out

When you go out to eat, you are almost at the mercy of the establishment you visit. Food preparation is out of your hands as is everything that goes along with that. Your safety comes before and after your meal is on the table. I am not trying to scare you into staying home but just to make you aware eating out is a lot more dangerous when the safety of your food is involved.

Visually inspect the place as a whole. I must admit, I’m a bit of a neat freak but this is good advice all the way around. Is the restaurant clean? Are the servers’ uniforms dirty? Check the tables, silverware, glasses, and anything else you can look at without drawing attention to yourself. If there is an issue, you have every right to find another place to eat.

Certificates and inspection scores. These should be place where patrons can see them. If you have questions, by all means ask. A big red flag would be if there are no visible certificates and none can be provided when you ask.

Watch for safe food-handling. When the servers carry food to other tables, are they handling it in such a way as to not touch it? Make sure whoever is preparing and serving your food doesn’t appear to be sick.

When ordering, ask for thoroughly prepared meals. This is a bummer to some who like their steaks on the red and bloody side and to that I have one thing to say: eat at your own risk. I cannot make you take this advice, I can only give you the information and you choose what you do with it. Sorry folks, that includes raw foods; especially raw oysters. If you want to gamble with the rest of your night by all means have your food raw but I would strongly suggest you don’t.

Taking home leftovers need to be refrigerated as soon as you get home. If the plan is dinner and a movie, leave whatever food you didn’t finish there. Giving bacteria time to grow could result in the next few days being bad for you when you go to eat the rest of your meal. Use these re-heating instructions.

Wash your hands. Before and after your meal, take a few minutes out of your life and do the best thing you possibly can to ensure you stay safe.

Eating In

If you are the adventurous type and want to cook a special dinner for you better half (as I am this year), there are still a few simple tips we need to follow. The awesome thing about preparing dinner – any dinner – is they are all the same when it comes to food safety. There are slight changes and exceptions but as a whole if we keep these in the front of our minds, we can be confident we a serving a delicious and safe meal.

Wash EVERYTHING. Funny how ending the last topic and starting this topic revolve around one thing we need to do More often. When I say was everything, I mean everything. Washing our hands is the most important. Then we move to: utensils, cutting surfaces, fruits and vegetables, cutting surfaces, and everything else we use to make dinner.

Keep the evening hot. The food I mean. If your dishes are meant to be cooked and served hot, make sure they stay that way. Bacteria loves to find its way onto warm or cold food after it is cooked. I know we all know what food poisoning is – make sure it doesn’t ruin your night. The same goes for foods needing to stay cold. Keep them cold until you are ready to serve.

Be careful when baking. Baking includes a lot of raw ingredients and if not cook properly those ingredients can cause food poisoning as well. Follow all directions exactly.

Leftovers part two. It is much easier to store leftovers if you eat from home. Make sure they are put in separate containers and refrigerated before moving to the next phase of the evening … whatever that may be.

If you have been planning Valentine’s Day for a while or if you fly by the seat of your pants, it would be in our best interest to include food safety too. Take the time to read up on more tips from the team at Lange Law Firm, PLLC before your special night so you can have all the information you need.

Love is in the air, foodborne illnesses do not need to be.

Stay safe.

By: Dwight Spencer, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)