Slow Cooking, is it Safe?

crock-pot and recipe book

In early times past, food stuff such as roots, vegetables and meats were wrapped in leaves and placed on warm or hot rocks that made a ring around a fire. The wrapped food was left there for a long period of time. Early cooks discovered that cooking this way tenderized tough plants and meats, and released more flavor into the food. This concept or type of cooking was carried over into  pot-based cooking over fires and eventually to stoves.

This tradition of slow cooking was first commercialized by the Naxon Corporation with its electric slow cooker intended only for beans. Rival Corporation bought Naxon in 1971. Rival redesigned the slow cooker and branded the bean cooker as the crockpot. The original crockpot’s stoneware liner wasn’t removable. Than In 1974 the product was redesigned with a removable liner, for easy cleaning. Aside from cosmetic changes and the addition of larger sizes, crockpots remained virtually unchanged until the introduction of a programmable crockpot in 2001.

Some disadvantages to crockpot cooking are: vitamins and nutrients are lost because of enzyme action during cooking. Raw beans must be boiled before cooking to remove an enzyme that can cause food poisoning. Canned beans do not require boiling, as they are boiled in the canning process.

A slow cooker is certainly convenient, but if not used correctly there is the potential for food-safety hazards. Temperatures between 40° and 140°F fall into the so-called “Danger Zone,” since bacteria thrive in these temperatures. When using a slow cooker be sure to take precautions that keep food from being in the Danger Zone for too long. To avoid the Danger Zone, never add frozen ingredients to your cooker, refrigerate any ingredients you’ve prepped ahead in separate storage containers and bring liquids to a simmer if you’re cooking on Low before adding them to your cooker to give the heating process a jump-start. Never attempt to cook a whole chicken or roast in your slow cooker: large hunks of meat won’t cook thoroughly enough in the slow cooker. So when cooking with meat, make sure it’s cut into smaller pieces that will cook throughout.

The US Food and Drug Administration state that bacteria grow the fastest between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the meat, it needs to be cooked to a minimum of 145 degrees Fahrenheit to kill most bacteria (poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and ground meat to 160 degrees Fahrenheit). Even if your food is eventually cooked to the proper temperature, if it stays too long in the 40-140 range, it will house much more bacteria than if cooked properly.

When possible, preheat the Crock-Pot before you add the food. This process will ensure the food is not kept at a temperature that allows bacteria to grow rapidly. In addition to preheating, setting the temperature to a high setting for the first hour before switching to the low setting will help to ensure the food reaches the correct, safe eating temperature.

It is recommended to never use a crockpot to reheat already cooked foods, but have been stored in the refrigerator. Also it is worthy to note, that crockpots bought with in the last 5 to 6 years do cook faster than the older models. Therefore, not leaving the raw foods to long in the temperature danger zone (40 and 140 degrees).

 

 

This was received in an e-mail from my former place of employment:

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Sources of information: 7 Tricks for Better Slow-Cooking in Your Crock Pot    Safety Tips Regarding Crock-Pots    Crockpot History

 

What Others are Saying About Slow Cooking:

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4 thoughts on “Slow Cooking, is it Safe?

  1. Pingback: Beat the Summer Heat with Crock Pot Cooking | Recipes for a Healthy You

  2. Pingback: Easy Chicken Curry | Recipes for a Healthy You

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