It is my doody to warn you that this article contains:
- Bathroom Humor
- One Gallery of Turd Cakes
- Three True Stories of Poop-in-Food Poisoning
- Vital Information About Food Safety
This sickness that we call the “stomach flu” really should be called the “accidentally ate poop poisoning” because that’s what it is. The leading cause of viral gastroenteritis, specifically, norovirus, is the ingestion of – yes – crap. In culinary terms, it’s called the fecal-oral route of transmission.
FACT: Even trace amounts of feces, invisible to the eye, are enough to trigger a food poisoning incident. Bacteria are smart – they know how to self-replicate.
Common Forms of Crap Found in Food
- Pet Poop – Allowing a pet in the kitchen and/or petting an animal before/during food preparation without hand washing is a no-no.
- Chicken Poop – i.e. Salmonella, which is present on raw chicken meat & in raw eggs, has a high rate of cross-contamination via cooking implements and surfaces. It duplicates rapidly at warm room temperature. It does not easily clean off plastic cutting boards. It is on the rise in conventional U.S. chickens.
- Mouse or Rat Poop – When these critters invade your ingredients or dry storage areas, they leave their droppings and dander behind.
- The Poop of the Human Who Prepares the Food – This is the most widespread cause of transmission, mainly due to insufficient hand washing.
- The Poop of Some Other Human – Beware of people who share your kitchen/bathroom spaces.
You ESPECIALLY Don’t Want to Serve Turd to:
– Pregnant Women
– Infants & Young Children
– The Elderly
– Immuno-Compromised Individuals
FACT: Chilled chocolate mousse makes the best pretend poop.
Poop Poisoning Anecdotes
True Story #1
Wedding Gone Wrong
I first heard about this incident from my Food Safety instructor in culinary school. Later, I confirmed it with some people who worked at the bakery in question. Here’s the story: After a fabulous wedding in New England, a large number of guests contracted Hepatitis A. Some people got so sick that they ended up in the hospital, which triggered a Board of Health investigation. Using a menu survey to gather data about what each guest ate at the event, investigators traced the culprit back to the wedding cake. Eventually they discovered that one of the employees who made the cake had a case of persistent diarrhea that week. Diarrhea is a symptom of Hepatitis A. Failure to wash her hands properly caused a major outbreak of illness. Once it hit the news, the effect on her employer’s business was devastating.
Moral of the story: Thorough and consistent hand-washing is critically important at all times. Moreover, cooks should never work or serve food to others during a severe bout of ongoing diarrhea, as that may be a symptom of norovirus, salmonella poisoning, or Hepatitis A, all of which are dangerous and highly contagious. Kitchen managers should quarantine themselves and others when this symptom is present. The same goes for vomiting.
True Story #2
I once worked in a food establishment that developed a fly infestation over the summer. It was the thick black hairy kind of fly that hangs heavy in the air. In the midst of a heatwave, there were swarms of them. In the prep kitchen, a cook butchered and cooked chickens as flies touched their feet down on the raw meat. Those same flies flew into the pastry kitchen, where they touched down on the frosted and ready-to-eat treats. The next day, an employee bolted past me and vomited into a trash can. The day after that, there was a call about an upset stomach from a customer. The day after that, another complaint came in.
Moral of the story: Flies will gladly walk poop onto your food.
True Story #3
At the same bakery mentioned above, every other week, a pastry cook prepared bulk batches of chocolate mousse for us to fill various pastry and cake orders. Every so often, a customer got sick and called to complain after consuming a dessert that contained chocolate mousse. The chef knew the culprit was the mousse. Yet without food safety training, he couldn’t figure out how to solve the problem. Out of frustration, he blamed the pastry kitchen employees, sometimes yelling or pulling the chocolate mousse out from under our hands.
What he did right
He enforced a rule that employees must never leave the chocolate mousse out at room temperature for very long. Reason: Salmonella in raw eggs multiplies faster at room temperature therefore it’s important to hold items containing raw eggs, such as chocolate mousse, at refrigerator temperature.
What he did wrong
- He failed to refrigerate the eggs themselves. Typically, he stored a number of cases out at room temperature to have on hand because room temperature eggs whip to a lighter and fluffier volume compared to cold eggs. However conventional American eggs should not be stored at room temperature.
- He failed to enforce the vital principles of FIFO, i.e. First-In-First-Out Rotation of all products and ingredients. As a result, newer batches of mousse were used first and the older batches of mousse were used second or third.
- He failed to enforce a Label & Date System, so employees could not tell the difference between new and old batches of mousse. With salmonella multiplying slowly but surely at refrigerator temperature, the older batches grew dangerous over time.
- He failed to analyze the situation and identify the hazards, putting the customers and employees repeatedly at risk.
Moral of the story: Whenever possible, hold conventional egg products in the refrigerator. Abide by the principles of labeling, dating, and the FIFO food rotation system. Always investigate food safety hazards and seek their solutions.
Food Safety is a Matter of Public Health!
If you don’t have the funds to pay for a certified Food Handing Course, you can educate yourself for FREE by reading the following guide: Managing Food Safety. I am not being paid or compensated in any way to make the above recommendations.
Food Safety Posters for Your Business
Here are some cool visual aids for your reference. I recommend hanging these on the walls of your commercial kitchen establishment.
- First in First Out Guide
- Safe Cooking Temperatures Guide
- Proper Refrigerator Food Storage Guide
- Employee Hand Washing Guide
- Step by Step Hand Washing Guide
- Sanitary Dishwashing Guide
- Uniform Hygiene Guide
- Don’t Contaminate Guide (Meat)
- Separate, Don’t Contaminate (Hot vs. Cold)
New to Wicked Goodies? Start *HERE*
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