Over a decade ago, the mom of two clients who both developed acute kidney failure after consuming E. coli O157:H7-tainted spinach sent me an unexpected present. The outbreak sickened over 205 people, killing five, sending hundreds to the hospital, many with life-altering complications. The gift was a bobble-head that bore a similarity to a younger version on me. On the base it said: “Colonel Colon and his League of Fecal Fighters.” It sits on my desk today.
I have always thought of doing something with the gift, and with the talent of my incredible niece, Janae Dueck, and borrowing from the work of the good food people at the FDA and FSIS, and idea is brewing of a way to help educate us all to be Fecal Fighters.
Over the next year we will be working on comic book, a cartoon video about the adventures of these superheroes, and a food safety jingle (thanks to my friend Vincent).
So, let me introduce you to the League.
Colonel Colon (above) is the leader of four fecal fighters: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. Each is a superhero, but Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill have unique superpowers.
Here are the details.
- Wash your hands and surfaces often.
- Germs that cause food poisoning can survive in many places and spread around your kitchen.
- Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before, during, and after preparing food and before eating.
- Wash your utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with hot, soapy water.
- Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water.
- Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread germs to ready-to-eat foods—unless you keep them separate.
- Use separate cutting boards and plates for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
- When grocery shopping, keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from other foods.
- Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in the refrigerator.
- Food is safely cooked when the internal temperature gets high enough to kill germs that can make you sick. The only way to tell if food is safely cooked is to use a food thermometer. You can’t tell if food is safely cooked by checking its color and texture.
- Use a food thermometer to ensure foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature. Check this chart for a detailed list of temperatures and foods, including shellfish and precooked ham.
- Whole cuts of beef, veal, lamb, and pork, including fresh ham (raw): 145°F (then allow the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)
- Fish with fins: 145°F or cook until flesh is opaque
- Ground meats, such as beef and pork: 160°F
- All poultry, including ground chicken and turkey: 165°F
- Leftovers and casseroles: 165°F
- Bacteria can multiply rapidly if left at room temperature or in the “Danger Zone” between 40°F and 140°F. Never leave perishable food out for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour if exposed to temperatures above 90°F).
- Keep your refrigerator at 40°F or below and know when to throw food out.
- Refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours. If the food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F (like a hot car or picnic), refrigerate it within 1 hour.
- Thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Never thaw foods on the counter because bacteria multiply quickly in the parts of the food that reach room temperature.