He rarely eats in restaurants. When he dines at friends’ homes, he’s been known to peek into his hosts’ fridge and cupboards. “It’s an annoying habit,” he tells the Daily News.
Meet Doug Powell, a former professor of food safety and publisher of barfblog.com, which is all about food-safety issues. There are plenty of them. Last year there were 626 food recalls in the U.S. and Canada. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that food-borne pathogens annually sicken 48 million Americans — that’s one in six — hospitalize 128,000 and kill 3,000. Powell, who was raised in Canada, lived in the U.S. and now resides in Brisbane, Australia, has been there. He wrote about that in barfblog. “More recalls are due to better detection and awareness,” he says. “The food is as dangerous as it’s always been, not more so.”
Between posting about recalls and E. coli outbreaks in the U.S. and beyond, Powell, 53, set the Daily News straight about everyday food-safety questions.
Now it’s okay to eat pork that’s rosy pink, right?
Nope. “Research has shown that color is a lousy indicator of whether meat is safe to eat,” says Powell. Same goes for requesting your chops or steaks “well done,” which is vague enough to put you in hurl’s way. “When I go to a restaurant and they ask me how I want my steak, I say, ‘140 degrees.’” He also carries a tip-sensitive digital thermometer in his backpack. He swears by one from Comark that’s around $16.
Raw sprouts are good for you, yes?
Maybe not. “I never eat them,” says Powell. And that includes ones he could grow at home. Warm and humid conditions ideal for growing sprouts are an Eden for growing bacteria, like Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli. In the past 20 years they’ve been connected to at least 30 outbreaks of foodborne illness.
You should have two cutting boards in the kitchen — one for meat, the other for vegetables?
Powell uses one and “usually I use dish soap” to clean it. To sanitize, a teaspoon of bleach in half-a gallon of water will get the job done.
Is organically raised food safer than if it’s conventionally produced?
Nope. “Organic is a production standard and has nothing to do with microbial food safety,” says Powell. “Large or small, conventional or organic, safety is a function of individual farmers. They either know about microbial food safety risks and take steps to reduce or manage that risk, or they don’t.” Along the same line, “local” does not automatically mean safe, he adds.
Super-fresh sushi won’t make you sick will it?
“Raw fish houses an amazing microbiology profile that can make you sick,” he says. “It’s just not a good idea to eat it.”