CLEAN Your Produce, NOT Your Chicken! Gahanna Senior Center

CLEAN topped the list of Gahanna Seniors' Questions

Loved Lu Lejman’s personalized apron. Hers was gifted to her by a creative friend, Shirley. Mine was one worn by my mom. My creative sister, Rose, embellished it for me.

The audience at last week’s Gahanna Senior Center Lunch and Learn program was well informed and engaged. Some were experienced in foodservice management, others managed the kitchen and meals for the Center. Some of those helpful people were Lu and her husband, Jim. Even though many were already familiar with good food safety practices, since it was a Lunch and Learn session, they asked many questions and were willing to learn.

Although we covered all four food safety basics of Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. Clean generated the most questions. Especially how to clean fresh fruit, since produce is a cause of foodborne illness for the simple reason that it is often not cooked (which would reduce the germ count) before eaten. Here’s a sampling of questions:

Q: If that strawberry on the salad I ordered looks unwashed…. Should I eat it?

A: Hmmm. No way to tell by sight if a food has unsafe level of pathogens or germs. If you’re healthy and your immune system is up to par, your risk is less. But it’s hard to judge. I’d skip it.

Q: How do you clean fresh grapes?

A: Rinse carefully and thoroughly, right before eating them.  Of course examine them for any obvious debris.

Q: What about the produce washes you can buy?  Are they worth it?

A: No harm in using them, but no need to do so. There is no clear advantage over washing food yourself.

And most of the back and forth discussion was around

What NOT to Clean: Chicken!

Why? Because 20% of raw poultry does carry germs that can make you ill. Salmonella and Campylobacter are the culprits.  Cooking to 165° F will take care of them. Washing poultry does nothing but splash the germs around your kitchen.

For more info check out the Don't Wing It! Seniors brochure from the Fight Bac! Website

My thanks to Patrick Monaghan of Gahanna, OH Parks and Rec Gahanna Senior Center for coordinating.