I haven’t been cooking them as a rule, mostly adding dried spices to the cooked foods (seasoning to taste). However, I was looking up whether there were food safety issues with dehydrated foods, and it apppears that spices are most often the source of outbreaks and recalls in that category. So now I think it’s better to cook those with the food too. Foodsafety.gov confirms that spices have been a source of salmonella, etc. Obviously cooking isn’t mandatory, as the salt and pepper shakers wouldn’t be in restaurants, but it can happen (and more often with pepper, which is commonly used uncooked).
Other foods I was adding to my must cook list were frozen corn and canned olives… well, pretty much everything but acidic foods, I guess. Or even those can be affected somehow. Raisins for instance are said to exhibit marked antimicrobial activity against spoilage organisms and human pathogens, yet under some conditions there can be Survival of Salmonella on Dried Fruits. Another article says Salmonella can adapt to organic acids, particularly at pH 6.0 or pH 5.0. However, when the pH is lower (pH 4.0), bacterial survival is not viable after 6 to 24 h. The pH of raisins is said to be between 4 and 5, but that isn’t necessarily the same on the surface. Maybe soaking them in grape juice would be a good thing, other than cooking (sounds good anyway, the pH of that is said to be around 3). I’m not too worried though, just wondering about best practices for food prep. On the one hand I know these kinds of things don’t happen very often with dehydrated foods (at least from personal experience), but on the other hand, they would be more likely to happen without taking precautions (and the likelihood changes as we age too).
Interesting info, thanks.
I often use raw seeds like sunflower and sesame in different cold dishes…
Should seeds be cooked as well?
BTW why likelihood changes as we age?
Not sure how likely seeds are to be a problem there, except the other topic I looked into about indigestion, etc., so I’d personally avoid them anyway (not to say you should or that they can’t be prepared carefully enough). Generally I’d think that cooking raw seeds oneself would be safer than getting cooked ones out of a bin though, and foods processed industrially (like shelled seeds) can be contaminated raw or cooked, I guess, no matter how clean the package looks (or at least that’s true of frozen and dehydrated foods). Okay, I looked one up: “the company’s vendor of sunflower seeds notified the company that the product might have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes”… As far as aging goes, I’ve read that senior citizens are considered a higher risk group for food poisoning, as are infants and people of any age with chronic disease. It could be that something they had been eating for years one day snuck up on them, if their eating habits weren’t as safe as they thought. Mostly produce is said to be nothing but healthy, yet it is also said to account for half of the food poisoning. So it seems to be all about the preparation whether it is actually healthy. That might not bother you until you’re older, although I doubt that half of all food poisioning occurs only in a particular age group. It could have more to do with the severity or duration of its effects, as usual (like when an older person falls down after slipping on a banana peel contaminated with who cares what).
Thanks for a detailed reply.
I usually grind my seeds so indigestion is not a problem for me.
That’s good, grinding should make them less sharp, as they’ve been known to perforate bowels. Jeez, it’s as if we’re swallowing tiny daggers there (and some drinks are sold this way, with a bunch of seeds in them, so people who drink that concoction all the time are swallowing thousands of tiny daggers)! I was just figuring out lately that I couldn’t eat many nuts or seeds and have good digestion, whether they were ground into a butter or whole, simply because they are one of the harder foods to digest (and naturally have shells that prevent animals from eating a lot quickly). I wanted to eat more for their flavor and nutrient density, so yeah, more power to anyone who can. I’m avoiding seeds in fruit too (or cutting those away), simply because they are indigestable and sharp, whether or not most people have a problem with this (I don’t need that problem, or food poisoning, and whatever else I can find out about, while balancing my diet here—it’s really a matter of balancing digestion and food safety too).
By the way, dried coconut is currently the source of a multistate outbreak of salmonella, and romaine lettuce is too, but for e. coli. Outbreaks from produce are typically things that are not cooked often. There are more listed by year. Glad I stopped eating soy nut butter before it was recalled for e. coli… “Twenty-six (81%) of the 32 ill people in this outbreak were younger than 18 years”. Outbreaks due to nut butters are listed for several years, actually (same goes for romaine lettuce). One thing seems to be as certain as the flu season here: there will be an outbreak of disease from some kind of plant food every year.
Funny thing though, I just cooked a can of tomato juice, and set the hot pot on a towel, to protect the table surface from its heat. Then as I’m looking up images for “attack of the killer tomatoes” and drinking out of the pot, I smell something like perfume, and I’m thinking “what the hell was in that can”! So I dump it out, because it didn’t taste very good anyway. Now I go back to the table and still smell the perfume… oh duh, it was from laundry soap on the towel, which smelled stonger when heated. Well I’m not the first one to jump to such conclusions, as the tomato was feared in Europe for more than 200 years. Perhaps the attack of mutant killer tomatoes is a true story… no, but tomatoes were listed as the source of an outbreak in 2006 (so maybe I was right about cooking mine, the second time, tomato paste boiled in filtered water tasted better to me than canned juice). Whether they need to be cooked, you never know, tomatoes are said to be relatively acidic, although the FDA says they pose a threat of food poisoning, unless they are further acidified (when not cooked). Anyway I redeemed myself by using the can of wasted tomato juice as a utensil holder. The other thing is called a trivet (instead of a towel), speaking of kitchenware.