How to Serve Dairy Products Safely
In my opinion serving dairy products safely is as important as savoring them because it is presumed that around 70% of the world population suffers from one or the other form of milk allergy. These milk allergies stem out due to different reasons like lactose intolerance, product contamination, etc. But improper serving and handling of dairy products is a major issue that may even result in death. Unlike some other food products, it is very important to keep some things in mind while handling and serving the dairy products.
Many of us are aware of the technique called pasteurization, still I would like to emphasize on the topic. Wikipedia states that “Pasteurization is a process of heating a food, usually liquid, to a specific temperature for a definite length of time, and then cooling it immediately. This process slows microbial growth in food.” Most of the marketed dairy products that are available to us are subjected to Pasteurization. Pasteurization helps in curbing the growth of harmful disease spreading pathogens present in the dairy products, thus making them safer to use. Further the pasteurized dairy products should be refrigerated to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. These things should be kept in mind while shopping for dairy products:
• Go for dairy shopping only towards the end of your shopping time, so the products don’t warm up by the time you reach home
• Make sure that you only buy milk and milk products that are cold.
• Ensure that the containers in which these products are stored are intact at the time of purchase.
• Check expiration dates on the containers. Some products may include “best if used by” which means the given is the last date by which you can safely use the given product.
• Start refrigerating the products as soon as you reach home. Don’t leave dairy products like milk, cheese etc to remain at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Here’s how you can go about serving milk products (milk, cream, sour cream, butter, yoghurt) and cheese safely:
Milk Products (other than Cheese)
Milk products like milk, cream, butter, sour cream and yoghurt, can be safely served by using the following methods:
• Keep the milk and milk products under constant refrigeration, when you are not using them.
• Don’t put back the unused milk to their original containers, as it may speed up the damage process even after refrigeration.
• Wrap butter properly in foils or plastic covers before storing them.
Time frame for using different milk products are as follows:
Milk, Opened – 5 days; Heavy or light cream, Opened – 10 days; Yoghurt, Opened – 7-10 days; Yoghurt, Frozen – 6weeks; Butter, Opened – 1-2 weeks; Butter, Frozen 6-9 months.
There are different types of cheeses and they need to be tackled in different ways, but the following storing guidelines apply equally to all of them:
• The cheese should be refrigerated in its original wrap till you open it for the first time.
• The cheese should be rewrapped properly in a tight foil or kept inside an airtight container after use.
• Take care to buy only pasteurized cheese marked “aged 60 days” (or longer) as they can be stored safely for long time.
• The serving temperatures for all cheeses differ according to their types. Try to serve the cheese at the best serving temperature mentioned. Moist cheeses like Mozzarella and Ricotta should not be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
• You can use solid cheese even if you observe molds on them. Simply trim out the mold visible on the cheese and an half inch piece around it. In case of soft cheese like cottage cheese, it is wise to discard the whole cheese.
• The U.S Food and Drug Administration have urged pregnant women and elderly people with weak immune system to refrain from using soft cheeses because they contain harmful pathogens.
Remember, the consumption of improperly handled dairy products often ends up in a detrimental health scare or even death in some cases.
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