Scoutmaster Musings - Cooking Lesson

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Scoutmaster Musings

Cooking Lesson
This summer, E. Coli struck scouts and staff at a scout camp in Goshen, VA. The latest news is that beef at the camp has been found to be tainted. Whether it picked it up at camp or at the supplier is not known, and doesn't matter for my point.

This event is a very real example of how our scout cooking and food preparation has crucial impact. How we wash hands, handle food, and thoroughly cook food determines if we get sick or not.

If this meat had been thoroughly cooked, the bacteria would have been killed. But, the theory is that some of the meat used in tinfoil dinners may not have gone over the magic 165F internal temperature. So, make sure all meat is thoroughly cooked.

Even if the meat is cooked well, what about the hands that handled it? If someone formed patties or balls and then touched some cookies, fruit, salad, or any other food that was not cooked - bingo! As soon as someone is done handling the raw food to be cooked, they need to wash before touching anything else. The same is true for utensils used on the meat or by the compromised hands. This cross-contamination is a big potential problem in patrol cooking.

Another problem is food that won't be cooked. Packaged goods are pretty safe, but fresh fruit and vegetables should be washed very well, preferably at home before the campout.

A fun way to demonstrate how contamination can spread is to get a black light, a rubber chicken, and a yellow magic marker. Scribble all over the chicken with the magic marker so it is fairly covered with ink, but the color won't be visible. Play 'Toss the Chicken' by having everyone stand in a circle and throw the chicken around. After a bit, have them stop and announce that we just discovered the chicken had E. Coli bacteria on it. Turn off the lights and turn on the black light to see who has infected hands.

Scout On
Posted: 13:19 08-05-2008 349
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