Letter Re: Learning About Food Safety

That was a nice submission by Tom T., but with a couple of items that aren’t completely wrong but aren’t entirely correct – or that can at least be interpreted incorrectly.  First,  he said, “The last way to prevent food borne illness is to cook the food to the proper temp.  Cooking to proper temperatures eliminates the threat of these harmful pathogens… Reheating to 165 degrees ensures that the bacteria are killed and the food has become safe to eat.” 

Cooking food may eliminate bacteria but it doesn’t destroy all bacterial toxins (the stuff that  actually makes you sick).  Staph aureus, for example, can produce a toxin that will withstand cooking and some pasteurization processes.  This means that if you store food in the temperature danger zone Tom mentioned, then even if it is cooked it might still be unsafe.

The second was a suggestion that dented cans are unsafe.  As long as a can isn’t dented on a seam (top, bottom or welded side seam) it’s fine.   In truth, most cans with minor dents in the areas mentioned are probably fine.  But “they” suggest discarding them, which is probably the wiser choice if there isn’t decent medical care available and for children, the elderly and those who are already weakened or sick. Best, – Matt R.