Recovering from the cold. CStM is taking longer but then I’m used to recovering from damage, due to many years of frequent practice. Still finding it hard to concentrate though, which is delaying book production but not for much longer.
Tomorrow I collect my car and Thursday the long trek to Scotland begins. This time, we’ll stop halfway or thereabouts because we’re both still groggy from infection and doing the trip in one go doesn’t appeal.
Anyhow, none of this is relevant to the title.
Who remembers the arrival of Carrefour supermarkets? Before they ventured into Wales, shopping meant visiting the butcher, the grocer, the fishmonger and so on. Suddenly it was all there under one roof, in a vast warehouse sized shop.
Lately, the supermarkets have taken to setting up bakery areas, fishmonger, butcher, delicatessen etc in-store. Less like a food warehouse and more like a one-roof indoor market. One crucial aspect remains the same though. It all goes into one trolley.
In those far off days, you’d buy meat in the butcher’s shop and it would be handed to you all wrapped and ready to go in your bag. The butcher would cut the meat, or slice the bacon, while you watched. No mass production in that shop.
Now it’s all pre-wrapped in shrink wrap (sometimes double shrink wrapped and damn near impossible to get into) and should be perfectly safe but… it’s made in a packaging plant. There is no possible way to absolutely guarantee that the outer wrapping is free of meat-origin bacteria. There won’t be many, but bacterial contamination can do something that chemical contamination can’t do. It can grow.
They won’t grow very much on a plastic wrapper in a fridge, of course – but if they are in a trolley and get on to other food, well…
Even in recent years, till operators in supermarkets would put your raw meat into a small plastic bag before you put it in your carrier bags. The carrier bags themselves were single use so internal contamination of the bag didn’t matter. Now they have to charge you for the small bags and for the carriers too. So you don’t automatically get either, and most of us re-use carrier bags until they fall to bits.
Add in the modern insistence on microwaving everything or cooking until it’s just warm and not properly incinerated and it’s no surprise that food poisoning is on the rise.
When microwaves first appeared, we microbiologists investigated their potential as rapid sterilisation machines. They were crap at sterilisation, so we still use high pressure steam in autoclaves. Bottom line: microwaving cannot guarantee food is completely bacteria–free although as long as it goes above 80degC in the middle, there should be nothing dangerous left.
Now the Food Standards Agency is calling for free plastic bags for raw meat, in direct defiance of the Green insistence that we have to pay for those bags.
I think there could be a small war brewing. Time to get the popcorn ready…