More than a decade ago, the mother of two clients who both developed acute kidney failure after eating coli bacteria O157: H7 contaminated spinach sent me an unexpected gift. The outbreak has infected more than 205 people, killed five, and sent hundreds to hospital, many with life-altering complications. The gift was a bobble head that looked like a younger version of me. She said on the base: “Colonel Colon and the League of Fecal Fighters.” He’s sitting at my desk today.
I’ve always thought about doing something with the gift, and with the amazing talent of my niece, Janae Dueck, and borrowing from the work of the good food folks at the FDA and FSIS, and the idea is a way to brew to help educate us all to be fecal fighters.
Over the next year we’ll be working on a comic book, a cartoon video about the adventures of these superheroes, and a food safety tune (thanks to my friend Vincent).
So let me introduce you to the association.
Colonel Colon (above) is the commander of four fecal fighters: Clean, Separate, Cook and Cold. All of them are superheroes, but Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill each have their own unique superpowers.
- Wash your hands and surfaces often.
- The germs that cause food poisoning can live in many places and spread throughout your kitchen.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before, during and after preparing food, and before eating it.
- Wash utensils, cutting boards, and work surfaces in 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 separate them.
- Use separate cutting boards and boards for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
- When buying groceries, 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 is high enough to kill germs that can make you sick. The only way to know if food has been cooked safely is to use a food thermometer. You can’t tell if food has been cooked safely by checking its color and texture.
- Use a food thermometer to ensure foods are cooked at a safe internal temperature. Check this chart for a detailed list of temperatures and foods, including precooked oysters and pork.
- Whole cuts of beef, veal, lamb, and pork, including fresh pork (raw): 145°F (then let the meat rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)
- Finned fish: 145°F or cook until meat is opaque
- Minced meat, such as beef and pork: 160°F
- All poultry, including ground chicken and turkey: 165°F
- Leftovers and casseroles: 165 degrees Fahrenheit
- Bacteria can multiply rapidly if left at room temperature or in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 140°F. Never leave perishable foods outside for more than two hours (or one hour if exposed to temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Keep the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less and know when to throw away food.
- Refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours. If food is exposed to temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (such as a hot car or picnic), refrigerate within 1 hour.
- Safely thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Never defrost foods on the counter because bacteria multiply rapidly on the parts of food that come to room temperature.