Does Drinking Alcohol Really Kill Everything?

By | ARF News | One Comment

How many times have you said or have heard the statement “Alcohol kills everything”.

Remember a couple of years ago when investigations into the cleanliness of lemons used as drink garnishes made front-page news and seemingly every TV news show in the country covered the disgusting facts. Everyone was up in latex-glove-covered arms over the bacteria found on the lemons, leaving many people, even today, refusing a lemon as a garnish. However, it’s not just lemons that can cause such a furor. Yes, lemons need to be washed thoroughly and not handled with unclean hands before used as a garnish, but they’re not the only items that can spread foodborne illness from behind the bar.

There are a lot of foodborne illnesses that can be transferred through employees’ hands alone — E. coli, norovirus, even Hepatitis. Any garnish handled by a bartender not using gloves, tongs, or toothpicks can be contaminated by bartenders hands. Remember that same bartender is handling money, credit cards and taking the bottle opener out of their dirty pants pocket with their bare hands.  In fact, a recent study showed one in 10 bank cards were found to be contaminated with fecal matter. (Uh, gross!) Also researchers swabbed $1 bills to see what was living on paper currency. They found hundreds of species of microorganisms. The most abundant were ones that cause acne, as well as plenty of harmless skin bacteria. They also identified vaginal bacteria, microbes from mouths, DNA from pets and viruses.

But can alcohol kill such pathogens as bacteria and viruses??

Alcohol does not destroy bacterial spores!!!!
Bacterial spores—which can cause anything from food poisoning to anthrax. Bacterial spores also form when food is temperature abused so garnishes such as melons should be held under 41 degrees F.
Some good news, per the CDC, “Ethyl alcohol…is a potent virucidal agent inactivating all of the lipophilic viruses (e.g., herpes, vaccinia, and influenza virus) and many hydrophilic viruses (e.g., adenovirus, enterovirus, rhinovirus, and rotaviruses but not hepatitis A virus.
So no, you’re not safe against polio, but ethyl alcohol kills a bunch of terrifying viruses, right?
Yes, but—here’s the big caveat—only at concentrations over 60 to 80%, anywhere from 50 to 75% above most of the stuff we drink socially. Meaning if you are not drinking a cask strength whiskey (which usually clocks in at around 60 to 65%), you may wanna pass on the glass with garnishes.

Other Helpful Tips
When a cup is used to scoop ice the exterior of the cup which is handled by hands contaminates the ice.

Jasmine Davenport-Murray REHS

CEO ARF Food Safety Consulting Group

Five Keys to Safer Food

By | Food for thought | 2 Comments

This animated film was developed to explain the Five Keys to Safer Food to general public from 9 to 99 years old, and encourage their practice at home.  The Five Keys to Safer Food is a message that everybody should know all over the world to prevent foodborne diseases and improve health.

It’s Safe to Eat Romaine Lettuce Again, Says the CDC: The Question is “How do you Wash leafy greens?

By | ARF News | No Comments

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a statement  saying the outbreak of E. coli infections that impacted 15 states across the country “appears to be over as of January 25, 2018.” The CDC, along with several states, and the Food and Drug Administration, investigated the outbreak, interviewing 15 people who became sick between November 5, 2017 and December 12, 2017.

Even though the information the organizations gathered indicated that the most likely source of the outbreak in the United States was leafy greens, the specific type of leafy greens that served as the source of infection was not identified. Since leafy greens have a short shelf life, and since the last illness started over a month ago, the CDC says the contaminate is most likely no longer available for sale.

Fifty-eight people in the United States and Canada have become ill from a strain of E. coli bacteria over the past seven weeks, most likely from eating romaine lettuce, according to experts.

In the U.S., infections have occurred in 13 states, including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington. So far five people in the U. S. have been hospitalized, and one has reportedly died in Canada.

How do Vegetables become contaminated?

Vegetables can be contaminated if animal feces are in the field or in irrigation or washing water. The bacteria can also be transmitted if a person who is carrying the bacteria doesn’t wash his or her hands after using the bathroom and then processes or prepares food.

How do you properly wash leafy Greens?

It’s important to note that washing your greens won’t necessarily get rid of dangerous E. coli in nooks and crannies of the leaves. Yet it’s still important to thoroughly wash your leaves before eating them.

The first step in preparation of fresh greens, whether produced organically or conventionally, purchased from a farmers market or supermarket, served cooked or raw, is to wash them properly. Here’s how:

  • Always start with clean hands. Wash your hands for 20 seconds or more with soap and warm water.
  • Cut away any damaged areas on leaves or stems before preparing or eating the greens. If something seems rotten, discard it.
  • Thoroughly wash them under running water just before chopping, cooking or eating. This will help reduce the presence of microorganisms. Hint: If you wash leafy greens before storing, you can potentially promote bacterial growth and enhance spoilage.
  • If lettuce has a core, such as iceberg lettuce, remove it before washing.
  • When you have loose leaves, such as mesclun, that can’t easily be held under cold running water, immerse the leaves in a large clean bowl or a salad spinner filled with cold water. Toss them around in the water for 30 seconds or more. Drain and repeat twice.
  • Never wash leafy greens with soap, detergent or bleach, since these can leave residues that are not meant to be consumed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t recommend using commercial produce washes because these may also leave residues.
  • If leafy greens are labeled as “pre-washed” or “ready-to-eat,” use them without additional washing, since it is unlikely to enhance their safety.
  • After washing fresh greens, pat them dry with paper towels or a freshly clean kitchen towel — or use a salad spinner — to help remove excess liquid.

Is it necessary to wash pre-washed leafy Greens?

YES. You can never be sure of how it was cleaned. It is much better to do something yourself.