Sometimes when you take raw chicken out of its packaging it can have developed a particularly funky odor. As a result a lot of people think it is a good idea to wash the chicken to get rid of any juices or liquids that are holding onto this smell, but this can in fact be very dangerous! Washing raw chicken can actually lead to a potentially dangerous form of food poisoning caused by Campylobacter bacteria and it can spread onto hands, cooking utensils, works surfaces and clothing as the water that comes into contact with the chicken splashes off it.
Campylobacter is an infectious disease that leads to the likes of diarrhea, occasional vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and cramping. This usually occurs within 2-5 days of exposure and is a definitely a disease you would rather not have. The disease is all the worse for those with weak immune systems, as they allow the bacteria to spread to the bloodstream and can cause a serious life-threatening infection.
The risk of getting this disease shouldn’t be underestimated and it is a relatively easy one to avoid! But being aware of some of the potential risks involved if you do wash your chicken should quite quickly help you reconsider your stance on it. The infection can lead to all sorts from irritable bowel syndrome to Guillan-Barré syndrome, a condition that has serious effects on the nervous system and can even see you become paralyzed.
To counteract the fact that an estimated 280,000 people a year become ill from this, the UK’s Food Standards Agency is urging people to stop washing raw chicken. The FDA used Food Safety Week as their platform to inform people about washing their chicken as it is estimated that 44% of people in the UK wash chicken before cooking it. It doesn’t just stop at Food Safety Week though, the FSA are urging producers of TV cooking shows to not show people washing chicken in case this may lead to more people taking up the bad habit.
Instead it is important for us to remember the basics of food and kitchen hygiene. If we are coming into contact with raw foods then washing our hands thoroughly is one of the most important things to do, as well as making sure the food is thoroughly cooked too.
The FDA have in fact not only worked with media and the public to raise awareness about the dangers of washing chicken but they have also worked with farmers and producers to reduce the number of infections in broiler chickens and contamination in slaughtered birds.
In the UK this is the most common cause of food poisoning and 80% of it is due to contaminated poultry. So if you don’t like the idea of getting some pretty nasty food poisoning then you should stay well clear from washing your raw meat. It is even estimated that the consequences of this illness are that the economy loses hundreds of millions of pounds from sickness absence and added burden to the NHS.
Go down to your local supermarket and you’ll find what looks like a pretty impressive selection of tomatoes to choose between, except when you get down to it you realise they are all practically identical. This is because there is barely any infrastructure for supermarkets to support local farms, therefore we are being offered the mass-produced tomatoes that are covered in pesticides and all sorts of nasty things that preserve them and alter their natural flavours.
The tomatoes that you get fresh from a farm have a soft skin and there are a few generations of us who aren’t familiar with the fact that this is how they should be! Instead we are used to the firm skins of shop tomatoes that are created to help them travel well without becoming bruised and battered, and also to give them added shelf life.
We are all used to having cherry and vine tomatoes but the best tomatoes out there that are going to give you the most flavour and are heirlooms! Tomato season is upon us and therefore we are getting a wider selection to choose between and you can find a lot more heirloom tomatoes in specialist shops and fruit and veg stands. Heirlooms definitely stand out because of their looks and they also cost more than the usual supermarket tomatoes but why is this?
Well the reason for this is because heirlooms are the closest thing you are going to get to a traditional, natural tomato! If you were to ask a farmer or tomato expert then they will tell you that what is being grown and sold today barely resembles what tomatoes should look and taste like. If heirlooms vary in colour then you can also tell this in the taste too, yellow types are milder in flavour, whilst red heirlooms are more acidic.
If you were to can these tomatoes then you wouldn’t have to put anything else in them due to their natural acidic quality, but if you look at the ingredients list of a tin of tomatoes now, there will be numerous chemicals to not only preserve them but to also give them flavour! All the flavour of tomatoes that we get today is unfortunately created in a lab and with chemicals. What people don’t realise is that the tomato season is short and people have become accustomed to having them all year around, this simply isn’t possible to cater for in the UK’s climate so we get them from elsewhere or we get versions of tomatoes that are chemically enhanced.
All this makes heirloom tomatoes all the more special, yes there is an annual window of time where they are available but everything about them is unique and interesting. They come in all shapes and quirky sizes, you could make the most visually appealing tomato salad from a few different heirloom tomatoes, as no two are alike! If there was one piece of advice to give it would be to at least by organic tomatoes so you avoid as many of the pesticides and chemicals as possible.
Television shows about cooking have always been popular to some degree but in recent years there has been a huge increase in their popularity. Whilst a lot of us simply watch the shows as a bit of evening entertainment, there are those of us who are actually inspired by what they see and it eggs them on (sorry for the food pun) to be more creative in the kitchen.
In fact there has been a recent survey to see whether cooking shows make us spend more time in the kitchen and the results tended to be that they do…as long as it is fun and in a social way. Lets just hope that the TV show that is spurring you on to get creative in the kitchen isn’t Man vs Food!
The study did have some findings that seem to clash with a lot of other existing research, such as the finding that the average Brit cooks 5 times a week and spends on average 49 minutes preparing food in the kitchen. Perhaps it was the use of only 2,000 participants that made these results particularly different from what other research has found. One of their main findings was that our very own Jamie Oliver’s 15-Minute Meals programme spurring 21% of the surveys participants into getting into the kitchen and cooking.
Another show that has had a huge effect on its audience has been the Great British Bake Off, influencing 19% of the participants, and to be fair who wouldn’t want to bake something delicious after seeing all of those cakes and pies on our screens? It definitely seems that we are moving away from the ‘ready meal’ generation and people are getting much more into cooking for themselves. This is definitely the case with bread too, as more and more people (a third in fact) have made their own bread in the last year.
So what is it that are making these shows so popular and actually giving us the imputis to get creative in the kitchen? Well it is believed to be the simplicity of the recipes, both 15-Minute Meals and even the Great British Bake Off – to some extent, offer people the opportunity to replicate tasty and ‘easy’ meals. Yes you may struggle to finish cooking them in exactly 15 minutes but understanding that they aren’t going to consume all your time and the fact that you can make something tasty and delicious in almost no time, makes people a lot more positive when it comes to cooking.
But whilst there are upsides to this TV cooking trend, there are definitely anomalies too. Come Dine With Me is a TV show that takes people’s enthusiasm for wining and dining and shows just how wrong a lot of us can get it. Obviously these people are picked because they aren’t going to create Michelin starred food but there are barely any recipes on it that you’d want to replicate.
We have long known that soy can be an ideal replacement for any one who suffers form lactose intolerance and lets face it, that is becoming more and more of us! Soy foods can provide us with many nutritional benefits, from the likes of being high in protein to cholesterol-free, as well as providing us with an abundance of good old vitamins.
Soy itself can come in many forms, from the commonly known milk to solid soy foods such as edamame beans, tofu, soy nut and other foods like cheese made from soy. The trick that a lot of people miss is that when they eat soy that has been processed, such as in health bars and snacks, they are actually losing a lot of soy’s nutritional components, meaning you aren’t getting as many of the vitamins and minerals that you should be getting!
Therefore if you are looking to introduce soy into your diet then you should do this through the whole food approach rather than with processed products. Soy can be an essential tool for vegetarians because it is a ‘complete’ protein and a lot of vegetarian proteins aren’t, what this means is that it is gives you good levels of amino acids, making it a great source of lean protein and helps you increase muscle mass. Research also suggests that eating soy foods can help to lower cholesterol and improve your overall health, it’s also great for keeping your blood sugar levels in check and this is ideal for anyone suffering from diabetes.
As for the vitamins that are present in soy, vitamins B6 and B12 help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and can even slow age-related memory decline…so be sure to get your parents on some soy produce. As well as these vitamins helping improve the quality of your health, they are also amazing for your scalp and helping you grow hair. It is namely Folate that helps with this as it contributes to the production of serotonin and this will also help to lift your mood too.
We have barely scratched the surface of the nutrient and vitamin rich soy! Soy foods also generally contain magnesium, calcium and potassium, all of which will lower your blood pressure and aiding those with type 2 diabetes.
However soy isn’t for everyone and some people won’t like the taste of the likes of soy milk or find that it can cause discomfort after eating, especially for people with irritable bowel syndrome. But if you can handle soy then how much of it should you be looking to introduce to your diet to get the most benefits from all its nutrients? Well as of yet this hasn’t been determined, but like any other food that is good for you, you shouldn’t try and incorporate it several times in a week. Try to find the right balance for you rather than relying on what you are told is the right amount and it should make a welcome entry into your diet.
Being a food editor is a title that has a lot of misconceptions around it, with many people thinking they live the high-life eating out at top restaurants for free and are feared by all restaurants and their chefs. But the vast majority of the assumptions made about them are untrue and we have created a list to show you just how wrong some of our assumptions about them are.
They’re Fussy About Food
A food editor is no fussier about food than any other person…some are and some aren’t. They do not only dine out at the top restaurants but also love their home comforts and the foods we all know and love too! And it doesn’t mean that they constantly scrutinise every meal that is given to them, otherwise they would have some pretty irritated partners.
They Judge You
As we just mentioned, plenty of people might be nervous if they knew they were preparing a meal for a food critic or editor but in no way are they going to be judging your cooking any harsher than anyone else would…unless you ask for brutal honesty!
They Are All Critics
Not everyone who works as a food editor is a food critic. Rather restaurant critics are simply a specific subset of food editors who probably don’t have that enviable a task. Still critics have a deep knowledge and understanding of food that is well worth paying attention too, whether it helps you choose a restaurant or helps a chef improve his style.
Don’t Call Them Foodies
If there is one way to tick a food editor off then it is to call them “foodies”, so don’t do it. Just don’t.
They Are Great Cooks
Just because someone’s job is based around food doesn’t mean they can cook. Just as if someone likes to draw, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are any good at it. Food editors read and write about food but that doesn’t mean they are good at cooking, sure they may have one or two recipes up their sleeve but they are generally no more talented in the kitchen than your average person. After all, how many people in media and journalism have either just been lumped into a specific category, such as sports, entertainment or cooking, because a position needs to be filled? A lot of us are just blagging it.
Some Foods Are Beneath Them
There is a misconception that food editors don’t get the urges for junk food and sweets like we all do. But of course there is the temptation to pop into a burger place at the end of a night out or relied on a ready meal when they are low on time.
They Pick Where You Eat
TV comedies will have you think a food editor is a major food snob and simply has to pick where their friends eat. But in truth, who wants to always choose the restaurant? Sometimes it nice to allow others to take the lead and of course you might be in the mood for a particular style of food one day but that doesn’t mean you are oblivious to the wants and needs of the people you are with.
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