Nuke the Cukes?
In our ServSafe Classes for the last two years we’ve been learning a new phrase to describe foods that bacteria grow on: TCS (Time Temperature Control For Safety). Foods are labeled TCS When it’s been demonstrated that they are capable of supporting bacteria growth and causing repeated outbreaks of foodborne illness.
We’ve always been aware of the risk with high protein foods like chicken, beef, eggs, etc. Since the late 90’s we’ve seen a great expansion in the types of foods that are able to support foodborne illness bacteria. Who would have ever guessed spinach, lettuce, and cantaloupe would kill people? But now we have to throw into the mix cucumbers. Even though you won’t find it on an itemized list to date it won’t be long before health departments and epidemiologists expect us to treat cucumbers as TCS foods.
With this recent outbreak (Follow Link To Story) we can see that salmonella has the ability to cling to and survive on the surface of whole cucumbers long enough to endure the journey through the flow of food to make a significant amount of people ill. What does this mean for you?
- Check for the recall information and react immediately if you have affected products.
- Thoroughly wash the outside of cucumbers (and all raw produce) before cutting and serving.
- Clean and sanitize utensils, cutting boards, and work surfaces (colanders, prep space) after preparing raw produce.
- Discard and remove empty produce boxes from kitchen area.
These are a few basic tips to help you stay safe in your kitchen and enjoy those delightful vegetables as harvest season goes into full swing.