Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Roll the Dice on Bacteria

I’m not sure if this piece in The New York Times makes me more confused about food temperature safety than I was before or even more skeptical about accepted government guidelines regarding such acts of culinary hazards. Is Rhulman sipping from his own death stew? Will the most heralded of all food scientists be found sucking on his own vomit in a heap on the kitchen floor after pressing his lips to a batch of overnight meat stock? I hope not.

It’s somewhat a relief to know that if a parcel of leftover cooked food is left out overnight it is most likely safe to go ahead, heat it up good and hot then munch it down. On the other hand, why in the hell would you roll the dice and leave it out day after day? It’s like snubbing your nose at the grim reaper. We all understand he is after us as it is, why leave a snack trail of deadly bacteria, spores, and mold so he can hunt you down like a pack of hounds snapping at a foxes tail?

I would claim that this article is irresponsible, but as of now at least it can only be found in the NYT, and I don’t see many NYT readers being so intellectually challenged that they might extrapolate a scenario where it would seem acceptable to say, oh, think it’s ok to eat that package of raw chicken that fell out of the grocery bag and has been in the trunk of the family jalopy the past few days. On the minds of home cooks good food handling is important. On the other hand it is of upmost importance that restaurant patrons can trust that the food they receive has been handled with great caution and respect. If I choose to take a chance on some food left in the ‘danger zone’ that is my choice, but when I dine out I don’t want to take chances, and as a chef I have no right to compromise the health of others.

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