The Gypsy Kitchen: Transform Almost Nothing into Something Delicious with Not-So-Secret Ingredients

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Part 1: Intro to Foodborne Illness. Foodborne Illness. Highly Susceptible Populations. Hazards in Food. Part 2: Preventing Foodborne Illness. Top 3 Food Safety Defenses. Personal Hygiene. Preventing Bare Hand Contact. Personal Habits. Temperature Control. Keeping Hot Foods Hot. Keeping Cold Foods Cold. Prevention of Cross Contamination. Cleaning and Sanitizing. Additional Food Safety Issues. Special Reminders for Food Workers. Food Worker Top Thank you. We appreciate that you are taking an active role in learning to prepare and serve safe food.

As a food worker, you will be making food for other people. They trust you to do all that you can to keep their food safe. It is your responsibility to safely prepare and serve food to them so they will not get sick. The information in this manual will give you tips to safely store, prepare, and serve food at work and home. Food safety knowledge can help you protect yourself and others. Please take what you learn from this manual and use it at your workplace and in your home.

If you have any questions, please call your local health department. Remember that food workers using proper food safety practices are the most important ingredient in safe food. Welcome to the food safety team in Washington State. People can get sick if the food they eat has harmful chemicals or germs. This is called foodborne illness. Most foodborne illnesses are either food poisonings or foodborne infections. When people talk about foodborne illness, they often call it food poisoning.

Chemicals, bacteria, or certain foods like poisonous mushrooms can cause food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning are usually noticed within hours after eating, and often include vomiting. Foodborne illnesses do not just happen at restaurants. Everyone that handles food can spread foodborne illness.

The most common foodborne illnesses, however, are not caused by food poisoning. They are foodborne infections caused by germs that grow in food or inside of our bodies. Symptoms of foodborne infections include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, headache, and stomach aches. Symptoms may be noticed from several hours to several weeks after eating the food. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that about 48 million Americans get sick and up to 3, people die each year from unsafe food.

Following the food safety practices in this manual can help you prevent the most common causes of foodborne illness. Person in Charge : Someone at each establishment must be in charge during all hours of operation and must make sure that all food safety steps are followed. The person in charge must know the Washington State Retail Food Code and the procedures used in the establishment. If you have questions, ask the person in charge. If you are the person in charge, you should be able to give food workers training or information needed to perform their jobs correctly.

Although anyone can get sick from food handled unsafely, certain people usually get sick more often or have more serious illnesses. These people are called the Highly Susceptible Population. They are:. Certain foods are more likely to cause foodborne illness in highly susceptible people. These foods include:. Facilities like hospitals, child care centers, preschools, nursing homes, and adult care homes that provide food and services to a Highly Susceptible Population have additional food safety requirements.

Several of these requirements are highlighted throughout this manual. The goal of food safety is to prevent the hazards that cause foodborne illness or injury. Most of the hazards in food are things you cannot see, smell, or taste. A foodborne hazard is a physical, chemical , or biological object in food or drink that can cause injury or illness. Most foodborne illnesses are caused by biological hazards germs. Physical hazards are hard or soft objects in food that may cause injury if eaten. Physical hazards usually happen because of unsafe food handling practices or accidental contamination.

To prevent physical contamination:. Examples of physical hazards include broken glass, jewelry, adhesive bandages, staples, and fingernails.

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It happened in Washington Several staples were found in a birthday cake from a bakery. The cake was prepared below papers stapled to a memo board. Chemicals may cause foodborne illness if they get into food. All chemicals such as soaps, cleaners, sanitizers, and pesticides must be stored away from food, utensils, and food preparation areas. If a chemical needs to be stored in the kitchen area, the chemical must be stored below food or food-contact surfaces so that it does not drip onto food.

If a chemical is not needed in the establishment, then the chemical should not be there at all. Examples of chemical contaminants include cleaning agents, pesticides, and certain metals. Due to a broken valve in a soda machine, several customers got copper poisoning within minutes after drinking soft drinks. Food Storage Containers — Some containers are not approved for food storage.

Unapproved containers include garbage bags, galvanized cans, and containers once used for chemicals.

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Food may not be stored in these containers because chemicals can get into the food. Galvanized containers have a layer of zinc so the container will not rust. They should not be used to store food. We live in a world with lots of germs. Most germs are good for us, but some can make us sick. This manual focuses on the harmful germs that cause most foodborne illnesses: parasites, viruses, and bacteria. Parasites, bacteria, and viruses are good examples of biological contamination that can't be seen without a microscope. Several customers became infected with hepatitis A after eating sandwiches prepared by an ill food worker.

Parasites in food are usually tiny worms that live in fish, pork, or meat. They can be killed if frozen or cooked to the right temperatures. Different kinds of parasites may be found in contaminated water. Although viruses are small, it only takes a few to make you sick.

Unlike parasites, viruses are not destroyed by freezing. Chicken pox, the common cold, and influenza are all caused by viruses spread from people coughing or sneezing. The viruses that we get through food usually come from the unclean hands of someone that touched our food. We call it the fecal-oral route of transmission. Everyone else calls it gross. To prevent these common illnesses, we must be careful about personal hygiene, especially when working with food. Unlike viruses, bacteria can grow in food. They are found everywhere and can grow when food workers are not careful about time, temperature , and cleanliness.

Bacteria can spoil food or cause foodborne illness. Bacteria that cause foodborne illness come from sources like soil, animals, raw meat, and people. Although they can come from lots of places, these bacteria usually only grow in certain foods. Keep potentially hazardous foods hot or cold to keep bacteria from growing. Because people cannot usually see, smell, or taste germs in food, it is important to practice food safety even when the food looks fine.

Next, we'll go over the top three food safety concepts — personal hygiene, temperature control, and cross contamination — that must be combined to keep food safe from germs. Food workers, even if they look and feel healthy, may accidentally spread harmful germs to food if they do not have good hygiene. Food workers with good personal hygiene help keep germs from getting into food.

A healthy food worker is one of the most important ingredients in preventing foodborne illness. When you feel sick, you should not work with food. The germs making you sick may be spread to the food and other people. Food workers must tell the Person in Charge when they are sick. Sick food workers should go home. If sick food workers cannot go home, they may be given duties that do not involve handling food or clean food-contact surfaces. These other duties include taking out the trash, mopping, sweeping, cleaning restrooms, or bussing tables.

Food workers that work in facilities that serve a Highly Susceptible Population YOPI group may not work in the facility if they have diarrhea, vomiting, or jaundice. Handwashing gets rid of the germs on hands that can make people sick.

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It is important to wash your hands often throughout the day, even when they look clean. Washing your hands often is the most important thing you can do to keep germs out of your body and out of the food you prepare. Food workers must know when to wash their hands. Food workers are required to wash their hands before they begin food preparation and any time hands may be contaminated. The times of heaviest contamination include:. Hand sanitizers work best on hands that are clean. You must wash your hands at a handwashing sink that has hot and cold running water, soap, and paper towels or other single-use drying method.

From start to finish, all food workers must wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. Step 2. Apply soap and scrub. Be sure to scrub under the fingernails, between the fingers, and all the way up to the lower arm. Hands need to be scrubbed for at least seconds. Time yourself until you get used to it.

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This scrub time is longer than most people wash! Step 4. Dry hands completely with a paper towel, or other single-use method. Paper towels are preferred because rubbing with the towel helps remove more germs. Even when food workers wash their hands well, they are not allowed to touch ready-to-eat foods with their bare hands.

This is to keep germs that might remain on the hands from getting onto ready-to-eat foods. Ready-to-eat foods are foods that are served without additional washing or cooking to remove germs. Food workers must use utensils such as tongs, scoops, deli papers, or single-use gloves to keep from touching ready-to-eat foods. For example, tongs should be used to put sliced vegetables into salads and scoops should be used to get ice out of an ice bin.

Single-use gloves may be used to prepare foods that need to be handled a lot, such as when making sandwiches, slicing vegetables, or arranging food on a platter. It is important to remember that gloves are used to protect the food from germs, not to protect your hands from the food. Gloves must be changed often to keep the food safe. Food workers may not eat, drink, or use any type of tobacco in food preparation areas.

This is to prevent spills onto food and to reduce the chance of contamination. Exception: Food workers may drink from a covered container with a straw. The drink must be stored so that it cannot spill onto food or food-contact surfaces. Hair restraints are intended to keep hands out of hair and hair out of food.

Hair must be effectively restrained whenever you are working around food or food preparation areas. Hair restraints include hairnets, hats, barrettes, ponytail holders, and tight braids. Long beards must also be restrained. Fingernails must be trimmed so they are easy to clean. If nail polish or artificial nails are worn, the food worker must wear gloves when preparing all foods, not just ready-to-eat foods. For example, a food worker with artificial nails would need to wear gloves when mixing batter with a spoon.

Jewelry can hide germs that cause foodborne illness and make it hard to wash hands. Jewelry can also fall into food. While preparing food, food workers must remove watches, rings, bracelets, and all other jewelry on the arms or hands. Exception: Wedding rings may be worn if they are covered with a glove when the food worker is preparing food.

Personal items like medicine, coats, and purses must be stored away from food, dishes, and linens. Proper temperatures are required for the safety of potentially hazardous foods. A thermometer must be used to make sure that food is delivered, cooked, cooled, and stored at the correct temperature.

Most bacteria do not grow in hot or cold temperatures. When potentially hazardous foods are left in the Danger Zone, bacteria can grow fast or make poisons that can make people sick. Time is ticking… By the time you begin to prepare it, food has been through a lot of steps. It has been grown, shipped, purchased, received, and stored before you begin preparation. You may thaw, mix, cook, cool, serve, or reheat it. All of the time that the food spends in these steps adds up and helps bacteria grow to dangerous numbers. Potentially hazardous food may be at room temperature for up to two hours while you are preparing it.

When you are preparing food, only take a little of the food at a time. If the food has been left out at room temperature, or you do not know how long it has been in the Danger Zone, you should throw the food away. It may not be safe to eat. Dial thermometers work well for taking temperatures of thick foods. The stem must be pushed several inches into the food and left in for at least 20 seconds.

Because they need to go deep into the food to be accurate, dial thermometers should not be used for thin foods such as hamburger patties. Digital thermometers are also used to measure food temperatures. They have a metal stem too, but have digital numbers instead of a dial. Digital thermometers are easy to read and are better for measuring temperatures in thin foods. They can read temperatures quickly and should be used to take temperatures of thin foods such as hamburger patties.

Thermometers should be checked often to make sure they read the correct temperature. Read the thermometer package or call your local health department for more information. Cooking food to the right temperature is the best way to kill germs that might be in the food. Temperatures must be taken with a food thermometer that is inserted into the thickest part of the food. Cooking temperatures depend on the type of food and the cooking time.

For proper cooking times and temperatures, see the chart on the next page. The food must be covered to maintain moisture, stirred at least once during cooking, and allowed to stand covered for two minutes before serving. These procedures are also used for foods that are reheated in a microwave. Because cooking does not kill all bacteria, cooked potentially hazardous food must be kept hot until served.

This way the surviving bacteria will not grow back again.

Steam tables, soup warmers, and other hot holding units must be turned on and heated up before hot food is put into them. Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the food. Food that is cooked and then cooled may be reheated later to be served again. Properly cooled foods that will be served immediately may be reheated to any temperature.

Note: Additional cooking times and temperatures are available.

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Beef or pork roasts have additional cooking requirements. Please see the Washington State Food Rule or contact your local health department for more information. Remember, bacteria grow quickly when food is in the Danger Zone. Keep cold food cold in a refrigerator, in ice, or other approved method to keep bacteria from growing. When using ice to keep food cold, the ice must surround the container to the top level of the food. It is better to make salads and sandwich fillers with cold ingredients when possible. Frozen foods must be thawed safely to keep bacteria from growing.

Unsafe thawing can let bacteria grow in the outside layers of the food while the inside layers are still frozen. There are three safe methods for thawing food:. Cooked leftovers that were not served to customers may be cooled to be served again. Because bacteria can grow quickly in cooling food, cooling is often the riskiest step in food preparation.

It is important to cool food through the Danger Zone as fast as possible to keep bacteria from growing. Please take cooling seriously; certain bacteria can make poisons that are not destroyed by reheating temperatures. Improper cooling is a leading contributor to foodborne illness. Divide large containers of food into several shallow pans to cool. This method works well for foods like refried beans, rice, potatoes, casseroles, ground meat, meatloaf, and chili. The steps for the shallow pan method are:.

A large whole food like turkey or ham may be cut into slices to be cooled. This method may not be used for meat that is ground or restructured such as meatloaf or gyro meat. The steps for the size reduction method are:. Food may also be cooled using a 2-step process as long as you monitor the temperature of the food and make sure it cools down in a certain amount of time. An example of the 2-step method is called an ice bath. An ice bath works well for soups, sauces , and gravy.

Here are the steps for an ice bath. Cross contamination happens when bacteria from raw foods get onto other foods. Raw meat is the main source of cross contamination. When blood or juice from raw chicken or other meat gets onto a counter, cutting board, utensils , or hands, bacteria can spread to other food. Cleaning and sanitizing are not the same.

Cleaning uses soap and water to remove dirt and food from surfaces. Sanitizing uses chemicals or heat to kill germs. Sanitizing reduces these germs to safer levels. Food-contact surfaces should be washed, rinsed, and sanitized after each use to remove germs that can cause illness. Other areas in food establishments, like the floors and walls, should also be kept clean. Keeping equipment and kitchens clean will help reduce workplace accidents and the potential for food contamination.

Sanitizers are chemicals used to kill germs. Sanitizers must be mixed by following the directions on the label. Soap should not be added to sanitizers. Use test strips to make sure the sanitizer is not too strong or too weak. The most common sanitizer used in food establishments is a bleach solution made by mixing 1 teaspoon unscented bleach with 1 gallon of cool water. Wet wiping cloths can be used to sanitize work surfaces that have been cleaned and rinsed. Wiping cloths should be stored in sanitizer when they are not in use. The sanitizer should be changed often because grease, dirt and food pieces make the sanitizer less effective.

All dishes and food-contact surfaces must be washed, rinsed, and sanitized between uses. When washing dishes by hand, follow this procedure:. Some establishments have a mechanical dishwasher that will wash, rinse, and sanitize the dishes. When using a dishwasher, you must scrape leftover food from the dishes before putting the dishes on the rack.

Dishwashers use chemicals or heat to sanitize. Food workers that use the dishwasher must be trained on how to make sure the machine is washing and sanitizing properly. Temperature gauges and sanitizer levels must be monitored. All food served to customers must come from a source approved by the health department.

You may not serve food prepared at home.

Cook’s Notes

Shellfish like clams, oysters, or mussels must have an identification tag attached to the container. Wild harvested mushrooms also must have source information on site. The tags and information must be kept for 90 days after the shellfish or mushrooms are sold. Food should not be spoiled. Packaged or canned foods must be returned or thrown away if they are opened, rusty, or severely damaged. Do not accept food delivered at an unsafe temperature or in an unsafe condition. Animal products such as chicken, hamburger, seafood, and pork are more likely to cause foodborne illness if they are not cooked to the right temperature.

Customers must be told which menu items can be ordered undercooked and that the undercooked food can cause illness. Talk with the person in charge or your local health department for more information. Just as some people are allergic to bee stings, some people have allergies to food. Food allergies are often serious and can cause sudden, life-threatening reactions. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include a tingling sensation, hives, swelling of the mouth and throat, difficulty breathing, and loss of consciousness. Get the person in charge immediately if any customers have these symptoms.

They say my first cries could be heard right across the many rows of peas awaiting to be picked—after a smarting slap on my skinny bottom to kick-start me up to my gypsy lifestyle. And what a great, fulfilling life I was born and reared to have! For ten days, my mum had to lay in the wagon when I was born—this was the way things were done back then—with the district nurse, fresh off her bike ride, checking out mother and baby each day.

It must have been the wood smoke lingering in our thick hair, from the outside fire, but it kept the old nurse happy smelling the stinky stuff. After ten days, the nurse allowed my mum out the wagon but would still call a few times in and out to check all was well.

As I got older and sat by our yog fire listening to the many tales of life during and right after the war years, I learned a great deal. Many hours we would spend sitting cross-legged around the yog—giving way to the person telling or repeating an old tale, so that we could hear every word and log it in our memories, of which we were very good at doing. Some of the tales told were many generations old, but were still being repeated, much like the settled community would read an old book belonging to their family.

These fines were quite common, my dad was fined for being drunk in charge of a horse and cart, and I think my dear old granddad, Dannal, was fined for being blind drunk on a push bike, with a horse tied to the bike saddle. He had, so the tale goes, rode the horse to the pub when he was drunk. As a hand cart, he purchased a push bike from some mush in the pub—in his old befuddled beer soaked head—he worked out how to get the horse and bike back to the stopping place.

He would ride the bike and tie his horse on the back of it, but the horse had other ideas. It had been tied up outside that pub long enough, and it wanted to get back to its pals by the wagons. So, it took off in that direction, dragging granddad and his bike with it; hence the gaver police who was standing nearby-arrested granddad. He was fined seven shillings and six pence in the magistrate court for being drunk in charge of both horse and bike.

He escaped being fined for making a public nuisance. If you did a crime back then, you surely paid the fine or went to jail for one calendar month. We only had one real human enemy back in those days and that was the police, or gavers as we knew them to be in our Romani language, who most loved, tormenting our families and moving them out of their area—yet a few would turn a blind eye, knowing after a few days we would shift out of our own accord to a new stopping place a few miles up the road.

Common land used by all, even to graze sheep and cattle; it was a free place to stop if needed by my community and many others. Times were harder for the house dweller than us lot after the war. I think the people living in towns found it harder than the folks in the outlying villages of the country side—these families all had gardens to grow vegetables, and the farms to supply the butcher shops with fresh meat, milk, butter, cheese and sometimes cream.

Also most farms grew swedes, cabbages and spuds—then there was the bean and pea fields—because we worked on such farms we fared better than most for food, and also we could supply the shops with fresh caught rabbits, pheasants or wild ducks. Our problem was the majority of house dwellers never had the money to spend with us to buy our pegs or flowers, so some days after the end of the war, things got very tight and we were looking for paid work most weeks.

Everyone had to live, and we had the will to live and make sure the young had a chance to grow up fit and healthy. When I say we, I mean all the parents and grandparents. Every one of the families played their parts in our lifestyle or way of living to bring us back on track for, like the settled community, we too lost many of our men-folk to the war.

Lots of things were scarce such as iron; if we came across a blacksmith who had horse shoe iron in plenty, our men would have several pairs of shoes made for their horses, which would be packed safely away for times of need at least they got new shoes, the rest of us never knew the meaning of owning something brand new.

Our clothes and shoes were begged or battered off of some of the house dwellers and right glad of them we were back then. It took several years for our lives to get remotely back to what it was before the war. We just loved and had to keep travelling seeking work from the view of on lookers.

Our lives were very simple ones indeed back then, but there was a little more to it than that. Unlike today, we had no electricity or running water so when it came to thinking of stopping places, we had to think of water, spring water. Then, there was the skill of making the old outside fire—you would naturally think it was a case of chucking a heap of wood on the ground and setting light to it, but that was not so. This is because we used heavy thick iron pots-pans and kettles—the fire was built to be able, in the fastest time possible, to bring these things to the boil by just chucking a heap of wood on the ground and setting fire to it.

This meant it could take hours to boil a kettle. But our men had the knack or skill, if you like to build and make a fire that would in a short time have the old kettle singing happily away.


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The yogs, as we called them, were built with a great deal of care, with a full middle part that could be constantly fed with thin pieces of wood to build up the heat needed for cooking and tea—living the way we did back then, everything had to be thought about, even to the kind of hedges we used to hang our washing on. We liked thick blackthorn hedges, which the washing could be hung on to the thorns, so as not to drop off.

Washing was a right hard job in those days as galvanised buckets were used to boil up the water, which most likely was taken from a spring or stream or fast-flowing brooks. Once boiled, it was poured into the washing tub.


The tub was again made of galvanise, in the meantime a fresh bucket was put over the yog to boil up the white washing—such as pudding clothes, tea towels, table cloths and bedding and a separate bucket would be boiling up the towelling nappies. Our women took high pride in their washing, all stains had to be scrubbed or boiled out before they were hung on the hedge. It would be a shame-faced woman who never kept her whites white, and the other women would be only be too quick to tell her so, because she would not only be letting her self down but the others along with her.

Thus, dirty washing was not to be tolerated—it got us a bad name, by who ever saw it. We had no ovens to bake our food in, but the big black iron pots could be used to do a roast in. These pots and pans was scoured inside-out after each meal. It was not any easy task because they were big and heavy, and would get very sooty from the fire. A lot of salt and soda was used to keep them fresh and clean. The women, if they had any, would rub bacon rine on the pots and pans to stop them from rusting. So, this was another job that was done by the women looking after their pot ware.