hi, it’s me, a food service employee! & uhhh... no offense or anything, but i’ve seen how some of you... live? so in case you’ve, just spitballing here, found yourself w/ a pile of quarantine food but haven’t eaten anything but takeout in 25 years: here is some food safety info.
food safety is very important!! without it you get food poisoning, which often requires medical attention, and the medical system is, uh, about to be real busy. so, as reading incentive, at the end of this thread i will include a curated selection of my wildest customer stories.
as a show of good faith on the customer stories: i work in the prepared foods section of a high-end grocery chain, and i once had a customer deadass ask me “is the salmon grass fed??” i’ll let you sit with that one.
FOOD SAFETY 101 BELOW (ALL LISTED TEMPERATURES ARE FAHRENHEIT):
obviously: wash you goddamn hands. wash them before you cook anything, wash them after you touch raw meat or seafood or eggs, wash them before you eat. wash them even if you think “oh this is probably overkill.” wash your hands!!!!
poultry & beef need to be cooked to at least 165 degrees; pork’s FDA recommendation is 145 but some people swear it should be 165 (read: dry), do what you want. seafood is mostly recommended at 145 but that’s typically overcooked as FUCK, google and take your own chances there.
if thawing something from frozen the safest method is to transfer it right to the fridge and let it thaw gently overnight (or longer, depending on how big it is). if you need it fast: put it, sealed up in its packaging, in a bowl under running COLD water until it thaws.
(the above tweet does not apply to bread or other things that you might have frozen to preserve for longer, but which are relatively shelf-stable at room temp. that shit you can just leave on the counter. don’t run your frozen bread under cold water.)
you technically have about four hours in which fridge foods/hot foods can sit out at room temp, but that’s cumulative and includes like. the prep time before they’re cooked and shit, so. if it’s been sitting out more than two hours, don’t... eat that
“but dylan what about room temp pizza it never goes bad” FALSE. i know so many people who think this and it’s WRONG, i personally know someone who ate pizza that had been sitting out for like 10 hours and do you know what she got for her trouble? pancreatitis
once cooked, food needs to COOL and GO IN THE FRIDGE. you want to cool it quickly to limit time in the BACTERIAL HOT ZONE. divide it into smaller containers (it’ll cool faster) and put it in the fridge uncovered until it’s cool. then you can recombine it and pop a lid on it.
(full disclosure: at home i do regularly divide shit into smaller containers and then let them cool uncovered on the counter for 20min or so, but it’s not like. best practice? but it’s probably fine. but i’m not, you understand, recommending it or anything.)
when you reheat an already cooked food or hold it hot it needs to be between 135 degrees and 180 degrees. over 180 will torch it, under 135 and you’re in the BACTERIAL HOT ZONE, where bacteria multiples rapidly and turns your food into poison! poison’s bad, folks.
on the other end of the spectrum, cold foods (ie, fridge items) need to be stored between 28 and 41 degrees. colder than 28 and that shit’s frozen, warmer than 41 and you’re once again in THE BACTERIAL HOT ZONE, making your dinner a spa vacation for shit that can kill you.
giving it its own tweet so it really sticks: THE BACTERIAL HOT ZONE FOR FOOD IS BETWEEN 41 AND 135 DEGREES. this encompasses the temperature of most rooms, hence the tweet about letting food hang out at room temp too long. don’t do it! don’t get food poisoning.
also, once you cook a food and then go to reheat it, only reheat the amount you intend to eat in that one sitting! don’t reheat foods multiple times! every time you reheat something it passes through the BACTERIAL HOT ZONE, which, as mentioned, is a cumulative situation.
once cooked most foods are fine to eat for about 5 days (give seafood 3). if you can, take a tip from professional kitchens everywhere and buy some masking tape and a sharpie. write both the date it was made and the date it goes bad on the tape and slap it on the container.
if it smells off, don’t eat it! if it looks off, don’t eat it! if there’s mold on it, don’t eat it (except hard, and ONLY HARD, cheeses, where you can usually just cut that shit off). if it’s expired, don’t eat it! if it tastes off, SPIT IT OUT.
something to buy right now if you don’t have it: a good food thermometer, ideally instant read, the thermopop (linked) is great but you can get one for like $12 on amazon and that’s typically fine too https://www.thermoworks.com/ThermoPop
when temping food: insert the thermometer into the thickest, densest part of whatever you’re temping and give the thermometer a few seconds to stabilize the reading. spot check in a few different places on any large dish.
periodically test your thermometer, bc if it’s off and it says 165 when something is actually 92 you’re in trouble. to do this: get a glass of ice water. let it sit for a minute, then temp it. the thermometer should read 32 (a degree or two of accuracy on either side is okay).
FOOD SAFETY REGARDING FOODS PEOPLE LIKELY BOUGHT FOR PANDEMIC PREP:
maybe you bought kidney beans! if they’re in a can, great, they’re already safe. if you bought them dry: THEY ARE POISONOUS, you need to soak them overnight AND boil them for at least ten minutes to make them... not be poisonous.
if you bought potatoes and they start to sprout, throw that shit away; potato sprouts, leaves and stems are also poisonous! i can’t say this strongly enough: don’t be die of old potato
if you’ve got a canned food and the can has a small dent in it, whatever, who among us isn’t a little dented these days. if it has a large dent it, or a dent on a seam, or is rusted, that food in there is chock full of bacteria! don’t eat that.
if food has a “best before” date on it it’s typically fine to eat after that date passes, it’ll just be less delicious. if it has an expiration or “use by” date, don’t eat it after that date passes!
“but dylan i eat things past the expiration date and/or violate other food safety rules all the time and i’m fine” bully for you!! but this is not the time to be fucking around or taking your chances with that shit. the hospitals will be occupied
and now, for your agonies and your reading of this thread, here are the wildest/worst customers from my almost two years at this job! every one of these stories is true and i am more regretful of that fact that anyone:
the customer who ordered a thanksgiving meal from me, came and picked it up the day before thanksgiving, then called me on thanksgiving day and screamed at me because the food wasn’t hot when she removed it from her own refrigerator
the customer who walked up to one of my coworkers with a rotisserie chicken and demanded “is this a chicken or is it a bird?!”
the customer who comes in to get black forest ham, but insists her children are allergic to the coating on the ham, but not to the ham inside, which is identical to our other ham, which she won’t buy. so once a week we ruin a black forest ham by cutting off the coating w/ a knife
the customer who made me tear apart three ice cold turkey breasts, hard as rocks, with my hands, because he “needed it for gumbo” (???? WHAT???) and “the texture wouldn’t be right” if i sliced it up with a knife
the customer who made me remove all the bones from a hot rotisserie chicken, also with my hands, and then wanted a discount because she wasn’t getting the bones
the customer who would come in, get exactly a quarter pound (0.26 was too much, 0.24 too little), make us cut it in bite size pieces, and then walk around the store slowly and silently eating it before leaving without paying
this fuckin’ guy https://twitter.com/dylan_thyme/status/1227468387682541569?s=21
the many customers who i love, but who — and no judgement if this is you — either haven’t ever cooked their own food or haven’t done it in such a long time that they’re stymied by the thought of reheating something in an oven. hence this thread. I DON’T WANT Y’ALL TO DIE.
please practice proper food handling in your homes! i don’t want you to have to deal with the overwhelmed medical system if you get food poisoning, and also i don’t want the overwhelmed medical system to have to deal with you. it’s... gonna have a lot going on.
in summary: don’t eat that pizza that’s been sitting out since tuesday, for society. my DMs are always open if you have questions. take care of yourselves and each other here in the brave new horrible bad world.
p.s. i’m a trans man in ohio working a food service job that won’t close & hasn’t changed the rule that we get fired if we call off more than 3 times in a month. if you have to spare i’d HUGELY appreciate it. my venmo is @ dylanthyme and my ko-fi is http://ko-fi.com/dylanthyme
oh, i forgot: NO MEDIUM RARE BURGERS FOR A WHILE, ground beef has touched grinder blades and hands at minimum and also has wayyyy more surfaces than, say, steak for bacteria to develop on. cook burgers to 165 (just make smash burgers)! thanks for the reminder @aardvarkwizard
it’s also been pointed out that letting a large amount of hot food cool in your fridge can raise the temp in said fridge and spoil other foods, which is why i often cool shit on the counter. this is one of those “things can go wrong” either way situations.
the Official Food Service Stance is “cool hot foods uncovered in fridge” but those are typically more large walk-ins that are more temp stable than your home fridge. if you’re concerned, cool on counter first or buy a fridge thermometer https://low.es/2vX7oX8
and finally: it’s been brought to my attention that, in an unfortunate typo, i didn’t mention WHAT that customer who wanted exactly a quarter pound to walk around eating without paying wanted a quarter pound OF. let me clear that up: it was roast beef.
love to all, but probably gonna mute this thread pretty soon but to be clear: i love rare beef, y’all. i know it’s usually gross when cooked to 165. i’m just saying that there’s a time to run the risk and this ain’t it. skip beef (or braise!) if you don’t like it well done
OKAY ONE FINAL UPDATE AND THEN THIS THREAD IS GETTING MUTED: i’m wrong! the FDA says 145 for beef my mandated workplace training is ALSO wrong, as i learned this AND double checked it in that material; i’ll be passing this along to them. THANK U GOODNIGHT DON’T @ ME ABOUT BEEF
oh my ACTUAL GOD apparently ground beef IS in fact 165 and all OTHER beef is 145 and the moral of this story is that it turns out i hate beef. i am as surprised as anyone. STAY SAFE OUT THERE, TAKE YE BEEF CHANCES AS YE MAY
hope you’re all being kind and safe and healthy out there! i put a couple of additions to this thread here: https://twitter.com/dylan_thyme/status/1243208913589358593?s=21 https://twitter.com/dylan_thyme/status/1243208913589358593