Jamaica Health Tips Blog
It’s a customary practice for Jamaicans and other Caribbean
people to rinse their meats in a mild acidic solution prior to cooking. This cultural
technique has been practiced for many years, and is now causing a great
controversy in the food safety community. Many Jamaicans normally practice this
technique especially when they are preparing chicken, fish or other meats that
have a high raw or animal odour. Additionally, it is believed that rinsing meat
in lime, lemon or vinegar water will also reduce the bacteria that maybe present.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture
Food Safety and Inspection Service, washing raw poultry before cooking is not recommended.
This is so, because bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to
other foods, utensils, and surfaces. Rinsing or soaking chicken does not
destroy bacteria., only cooking does.
Few skeptics are totally against this statement, as
they argue that the studies done on these products, did not include the use of
lime, vinegar or lemon water, but merely pure water. Having make such an
absolute statement they believe the statement is very misleading and may cause
more harm than good. Others have even put forth the question that wasn’t the
germs on the meat harmful before it contaminates other surfaces? Cooking meat
with that strong animal smell and bloody water at 350 degrees is basically
cooking and eating 350 degrees of filth.
One reason, this statement is backed by most food
safety regulatory body is that, during the washing of meats, spillage from the
meat could contaminate kitchen utensils, counter tops and other areas we may be
unaware of. Therefore, simply wiping down your kitchen counter will not clean
your kitchen to a safe enough level. As a result, while performing other task
the possibility of spreading germ to other areas is high.
The on-going debate in the food safety community is
one that has caught the attention of many. Some strongly opposing the
statement, while the anti-rinsing camp is growing by the minute. In spite of
the number of studies done, culturally most persons may find it difficult to do
away with this practice. This is because it is arguable that the washing of meat
in mild acidic solution does not only reduce germs and rawness on the meat but
also adds flavour.
Do you rinse your meat before cooking?
If you are a Jamaican, then the five-second rule or the
three-second rule is a well-known food hygiene concept that you have probably heard
of. The five-second rule is simply picking up food after it has been dropped and thus
exposed to contamination. If the food falls
within a five seconds window or less, then the food is considered safe to eat. But
is this customary practice a myth or fact?
According to a paper published in the journal of
applied biology, five-seconds is way too long. Microorganisms adhere to food
almost immediately when dropped. After
five-seconds, they found that the food had acquire anywhere between 150-8000
bacteria and if left for a minute the number will be ten times greater.
Considering it only takes about 10 bacteria of certain
strain of salmonella to get you sick, you probably should think twice before
eating foods off the ground. In most instances persons may think the floor is clean
because it looks clean but remember we cannot see microorganisms with our naked
It’s important to note, that the ground is the ideal
home for bacteria and other disease-causing microorganisms. This is because the
floor comes in contact with the bottom of our shoes. As was noted by the University
of Arizona, 93% of our shoes are contaminated with fecal bacteria. This
therefore means that foods that fall to the ground will instantaneously be
contaminated with them.
Interestingly thou, there
are studies that show that woman practice the five -second rule more than male
as they are more familiar with the rule. Additionally, in some household it is
only customary for the five second rule to be practiced in private or around
family, however in social gathering, restaurants or when guests are around it
Foods contaminated with microorganisms
can result in sickness or even death. Make the necessary adjustment to only
consume foods that are clean and wholesome. Remember your health is your responsibility,
be wise about what you eat today.
Did you believe in the five
As I seek to educate the public on critical topics such
as cleaning and sanitization of utensils and equipment. I am always disappointed
with the little they know about how to effectively clean. Many Jamaicans when
asked how they would clean a dirty surface, will tell you they use bleach and
soap to get rid of dirt. The shocking reality is, most cleaning agents contain
ammonia and other chemicals, which when combined with bleach form very deadly and
A very common one is known
as Chloramine; this chemical is a derivative of ammonia that is formed by the
replacement of multiple hydrogen atoms with chlorine atoms. There are widespread reports of health problems
from chloramines. Chloramine is a volatile gas
that can result in death if inhaled in a confined space, like a shower, closet,
or closed garage
Additionally, the mixing of certain detergent and
chlorine will reduce its potency. This is because
the detergent components become very unstable when they react to bleach and loses
its emulsifying property. As for the disinfectant property of the
chlorine, it will be less effective in killing some of the most common pathogenic
microorganisms you find on the items you clean.
Have you ever
experience a bubbling effect when you pour bleach into soap water? This
reaction is as a result of mixing an acidic detergent with chlorine. The effects
from such reaction are numerous and very severe.
Acids are present in glass and window cleaner, automatic dishwasher detergents
and rinses, toilet bowl cleaners, drain cleaners, lime, calcium and rust
removers, and brick and concrete cleaners.
a product containing acid is mixed with chlorine bleach, chlorine gas is formed.
If a person is exposure to Chlorine gas, even at low levels, it will irritate
the mucous membranes and causes coughing and breathing problems. In higher
levels it may result in chest pain, vomiting, pneumonia and fluid in the lungs
and at very high levels of exposure can cause death.
not just ammonia and acids mixed with bleach that can be hazardous to your health.
Certain cleaning product that are high in alkalinity with highly acidic
products are very caustic. These products can react violently, causing chemical
conclusion, it is crucial that we stay away from mixing household chemicals and
ensure we read our labels to see how we should mix them.
We have to take our health seriously and it starts from the little things we take for granted on a daily basis.
Have you ever mixed cleaning detergent with chlorine
Many persons might have never asked the question, what
cause food to spoil? But in their private thoughts this un-answered question
lingers. We have been impregnated with articles on food safety, how to identify
spoiled foods and the implications of consuming them, but rather seldomly, are
we given the knowledge on what cause our foods to spoil.
As outlined in an article written byLohani and Garg, 2009 titled, Food Spoilage and Control. Food spoilage is an undesirable change that has occurred
in the colour, flavour, odour, or texture of the food. The onset of food spoilage is rather indefinite. It is a
gradual process occurring because of poor sanitation, enzymatic
or chemical reactions, improper temperature control, microbial growth or
physical abuse of the food.
This therefore means, that it is not just the growth of
microorganisms on foods that cause them to spoil. Food can be spoil in two ways;
microbial spoilage and non-microbial spoilage. Here now are the factors that are
associated with each spoilage.
All foods contain some level of microbes on them even
before they enter the food chain. These microbes could be natural flora that
exist on the food or it could be from the environment e.g. soil or air. In essence,
we could say that the food was contaminated with microbes even before we come in contact
with it. Therefore, for microbes to multiple on the food to cause it to spoil,
there has to be some intrinsic or extrinsic factor fueling such process.
Foods containing nutrients, water availability (high
in moisture), oxygen, low in acidity and is not being stored at the correct temperature
will facilitate the rapid growth of microbes in them. What we really consider
spoilage to be could actually be a delicacy in other cultures. As what
appears to be undesirable to our sense of appeal, is in fact the reaction and
metabolic activities of the microbes. During the process of them growing, they
are producing acids, gases, slimes, toxins, waste and other by-products. These are
what we are seeing on the food, not the microbes themselves. It is therefore, for
this reason why they appear to be undesirable.
It should not be mistaken to think that spoiled foods
are all safe to consume, however; its imperative to note that not all spoiled foods
are unsafe. E.g. Wine, Yogurt, cheese, pickles, sauerkraut etc. These foods are
derivatives of foods that have undergone some level of undesirable changes in
there flavour, colour, texture and odour. In other words, the milk has to
undergo a state of spoilage in order for it to be in a form to make cheese.
With that said, its crucial that we understand that
the process is done under a controlled environment and readers should never think
to consume spoil foods. As there could be serious health implications associated
with such practice, if foods are not first pass fit for human consumption.
As was mentioned before, food spoilage is not only the
result of microbial effects, but also factors such as chemical reaction in the
food itself or with its packaging material. Enzymes are naturally occurring chemicals
found in all living things. There function is to speed up or slows down the
chemicals in the foods that cause them to go through the different stages of
maturity. E.g. the banana which was unfit, then become ripened after which it
becomes over ripened and there is a change in its texture, colour, odour and flavor.
Another form of chemical reaction that also occurs in
food is called rancidity. This is actually the oxidation, hydrolytic or ketonic
break down of fatty acids in foods to a smaller form, releasing certain odiferous
The packaging material e.g. cans used in packaging
foods can also react with the food. Additionally,
if foreign objects such as; bolts, nails, nuts etc. contaminate the food, it may result in a chemical reaction which cause
an undesirable change in the food.
In conclusion, food spoilage is not necessary an undesirable thing, as some foods have to undergo certain changes in order to facilitate the creation of other foods.
Have you ever eaten spoiled food?
While many Jamaicans consider it to be a cheaper
alternative to fresh food, canned foods have been a staple in many families’
diet around the world since the nineteenth century. Once canning was perfected on an
industrialized scale in 1813, there has been a steady increase in the variety
of foods being canned. Canned foods are considered to be commercially sterile, as
all microorganism are destroyed when the sealed can is heated to very high temperature.
This is the reason canned foods have such long self-live.
It can be difficult to the untrained eyes to know when
canned foods are unsafe and unfit for consumption. As a result, it occurred to
me to discuss some basic methods Jamaicans can use to assess the safety and
wholesomeness of their canned foods before they purchase them.
of outer appearance
Anormal can should possess a clean appearance, free from rust,
dust, stains, holes, bulge and have slightly concave ends. Seams should be intact
and free from leaks with label clearly showing the content of can, brand and
the weight of the product. (e.g. Grace Corned Beef, 400g.)
This is the process of
applying pressure to one end of the can, if it flips back and return to its
original position when release, then early stage of decomposition as started. This is known as a Flipper.
A springer is when pressure is applied to one end of the can, resulting in a distention to the other end that will not return to its original position when released.
This is because the microorganism would have produced more gas in it, when compared to the Flipper.
A bulging can does not
always means its content is decomposing. It could be that the can was inadequately
vacuumed during the canning process, the can was overfilled during canning or there is a
chemical reaction between the food and the can. This process is called hydrogen swelling.
This is the process of
tapping on the can to assess the quality of the food. If the can is sound, when
tapped it will give off a dull note. On the contrary, if gas is in the can it
will give off a higher pitch.
This method is only
applicable with canned foods that are not prepared with any liquor (sauce) in it,
e.g. canned corned beef. This process is done by shaking the product back and
forth and listening for a watery sound. Hearing any movement or watery sound in
a can signifies that decomposition has started and the food is
Canned foods can also deteriorate
without showing any form of gas production in the tin. This is called flat sour and occurs when thermophiles
(heat loving microbes) produce acid in the can but not gas. This is impossible
to detect expect by opening the can. Its very critical to note that this
product should not be consumed as it is unfit for human consumption.
Despite canned foods are considered one of the safest food to consume, they can cause severe health implications or even death if consumed when they are not safe.
Are you inspecting your
canned foods for safety?
As many Jamaicans venture week by week in the
marketplace to purchase their grocery, very few are familiar with the
profiteering business of the food industry. Most food places are seemingly
focused on sales and profits, rather than ensuring that safe and wholesome foods
are sold to the public. In this week’s health tip, we will be disclosing five
food secrets you need to consider when grocery shopping.
According to CBC News in 2015, best before date tells
a consumer how long that food will keep its flavor and nutritional value. It
doesn’t have anything to do with the safety of the food. On the other
hand, raw meats, deli meats and soft cheeses should never be consumed pass
their best before dates. This is because these high-risk foods have the
potential to grow pathogens that can get us sick.
Did you know, that there have
been reports of operators tampering with best before dates? As noted by several
food investigators online, staff from various food places have reported to have
change the dates on whole cakes that have passed their best before date. These
items are then re-packaged in smaller serving size with a new best before date.
In addition, fruit tart is another food that have been reported to be re-surfaced
with fresh topping and fruits then given a new best before date after they have
gotten old and moldy. This practice can be
very dangerous, as it can result in aspergillus, a very dangerous mold remaining
on the tarts and producing micro toxin which can be very fatal over time
or swollen can products
Can products are normallydesigned with a protective sheeting inside it, the function of
this protective layer is to create a barrier, so as to prevent the content of
the can from coming in contact with the metal. Whenever a can gets a sharp dent,
it may compromise its quality hence exposing the metal to the food. This could cause
the can to rust hence creating pin holes in it and facilitating the entry of pathogenic
microbes in the can.
On the contrary, a swollen can could signify that the
content of the can has been contaminated with Clostridium Botulinum. This microbe is a spore-forming anaerobic
bacterium, which is found normally in the soil and on produce. This therefore
means that during the harvesting and preparing of the food to be canned, Clostridium would have contaminated
the food. Can foods that appear swollen should never be consume, as it may
result in paralysis or even death.
and seasoned meats
It has been reported that there have been unscrupulous
operators, who have disguised the staleness and oldness of meat by grounding fresh
meats and stale meats together. Staled meats have also been reported to have been
dipped in blood to increase its red appearance then re-labeled with a new best
before date. The CBC news in 2015 has also stated that persons have seasoned old
meat and sold it to the public to disguise its staleness. In most cases grounded
and seasoned meats are sold at an increase price when compare to whole and
for one promotions or items on sale
Its very important to check dates on food items that
are on two-for-one promotion or sale. This is because it could be that the best
before date will soon expiry and operators are trying to get them out the food
premises before they become stale and spoil.
your items from the back of the shelf
Most food store practice a first in first out stock
rotation method when stocking their shelves. This therefore means that the
fresher foods are normally located at the back. Additionally, if shelves are
stock from bottom to top with the same food items, the fresher foods are
located on the bottom shelve. This is process is done to make the less fresher
food more accessible to customer so as to get them out the food store and
In conclusion, its very crucial that as consumers we
make informed choices when we are purchasing foods. Inspect your foods
carefully and check your label and dates. Remember your health is your responsibility.
you purchasing safe food in the marketplace?
Ever wonder why mosquitoes are attracted to some people
when compare to others? Many Jamaicans believed that if your blood is sweet,
then mosquitoes will be more inclined to bite you more than others. With us
having over 3,000 species of mosquitoes, only three are predominantly
responsible for the transmission of diseases. These are the Anopheles, Culex
and some of the diseases that are transmitted by them are Malaria, Encephalitis and Dengue
Mosquitoes being so persistent and irritating at times,
possesses an uncanny ability to sense our murderous intention and take flight
before one of our fatal swats. However, before taking a blood meal, a mosquito
would normally probe the surface of the skin, using sensory organs to find the
perfect area to strike a blood vessel. It then injects its proboscis in your
skin, releasing saliva in your blood vessel to prevent clotting and facilities
the free flow blood. This is when its possible for this vector to transmit disease
causing microbes in your body.
With that in mind here are a few reasons mosquitoes
are more attracted to some people more than others;
Persons with high body temperature will be more likely
to be bitten by one of these vectors e.g. pregnant women. Normal areas of our
body with high temperature are our foreheads, neck, wrists and elbows. However,
a person who has just finish some vigorous activity and is hot will have blood
closer to the surface of their skin. As a result, the mosquito will use the heat
to determined where blood is closer to the skin.
Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, therefore
a person who breathes heavily, will cause the mosquito to hone in on them as it
follows the steady flow of the gas. This is why you will hear them buzzing
right at your ear line. So, as you exhale carbon dioxide through your nose, it
travels at the side of the face along the ear line, where the vector follows
As we indulge in various activities or due to an
increase in our body temperature, the body will start to producing sweat to facilities
cooling down. When ever we sweat there is an increase in the secretion of
lactic acid through our skin. Mosquitoes are attracted to lactic acid and this
will make you their prime victim.
According to several prominent Entomologists,
mosquitoes are believed to be more attracted to a person with a Type O when
compare to a Type A or Type B. it has also been deduced that persons with
certain genetic are greater attractant to mosquitoes than others.
In order to protect yourself from mosquito bites,
always wear mosquito repellant
containing DEET and light coloured clothing to
Are you protecting yourself
from mosquito bites?
Season 2018: The Top 5 Things you Must Do!
As we reluctantly welcome the 2018 hurricane Season,
many Jamaicans are carelessly living day by day without a disaster preparedness
plan. A hurricane can cause widespread devastation and catastrophic effects on not
just lives and properties but also the economy. As mentioned in a post printed
by AccuWeather.com, the official season begins June 1, 2018 and will end
November 30, 2018. It is also predicted by many geologists that the season will
be a very active one.
Therefore, planning and preparing are the only two things
that will help you to be safe and resilient in the wake of a hurricane. The
ability to quickly recover following a hurricane requires focus, preparedness,
advance planning, and knowing what to do.
Against that background, here are a few things you
must do to be prepared;
gutters, drainage and tall trees around your home.
gutters and drains to ensure that there is no obstruction that could hinder the
free flow of water during rainfall. Additionally, observe water flow around
your house during rainy time, this will give you an indication of how high
water will rise and if there is need for additional drainage. Cut down tall
trees and over-hanging limbs that could cause damage to roof and house during
cracks and seams.
Using caulk to seal cracks and seams in wall, could
save you hundreds of thousands during a hurricane. This will make your home
impervious to water and protects your home other valuables during a heavy
the sturdiness of your roof.
Checking the roof of your home are among-st the first
things you should do before the hurricane. This should take precedence,
especially if your home has gone through a previous hurricane. The strong winds
during a hurricane can wreak havoc on your roof, therefore checking for loose,
missing or materials in disrepair are very crucial.
Having a battery powered weather radio during a
hurricane is imperative. Why? In most instances during a hurricane the
electricity will go. As a result, having a battery powered weather radio will
help you keep up to date on the news and weather reports.
Things such as can foods, other non-perishable food
item and safe drinking water are a must have during the hurricane season. Also having emergency equipment such as band
aides, dressing items and antiseptic is very crucial just in case you need to
treat a wound during a hurricane.
In conclusion, a hurricane is no joking matter,
failing to prepare is basically preparing you and your family to be at great
risk. Knowing where the nearest shelter is located and planning alternate
routes to get there should be amongst some of the things in your disaster plan.
Emergency number such as an ambulance services, the Police and the fire
department are vital as well. Remember your health is your responsibility, so
be prepared and get ready for this hurricane season.
you prepared for hurricane season 2018?
Ever woken up from a bad dream, only to realize you
are pinned down to your bed and cannot move?
I bet you have,
this feeling of being out of control is known as Sleep Paralysis. Many
Jamaicans would claim they have been held down by evil spirit while others said
they have even seen ghosts. According to an article written by the NHS Choice;
“sleep paralysis is the temporary
inability to move or speak that happens when you're waking up or, less
commonly, falling asleep.”
So in essence, your brain has woken up but your body is still in a state of
sleep, which normally cause the muscles to be paralyzed. Despite, the muscles
of the body being briefly paralyzed, you are still able to breath and even see
in some cases.
It has been noted in several research that sleep paralysis has been
experienced by majority of the population at some time in their live. Researchers have even went on to say that most
of these occurrences take place while the individual is sleeping on his or her
back. Sleep paralysis may even cause individuals to experience hallucination,
this is reason they may have sense ghost or evil spirit in their presence. This
terrifying but harmless experience can last from few seconds to even minutes.
Wondering what could possibly cause such dreadful experience? Here are a
few causative factors;
- Sleep deprivation - the less sleep you get and the more exhausted you are, the more
likely you are to experience sleep paralysis.
- Family History - family history plays a very important role in our health
and wellness, thus sleep paralysis is just one more thing in our life it will
- Age – sleep paralysis has been reported mostly in the teens and young
is also being rumored to be linked to mental illnesses such as bipolar and stress
therefore, it’s important to check with your doctor if you have any of these
To reduce and eliminate the occurrence of sleep paralysis is to have a
healthy sleeping life and to take care of your personal health through regular
exercise and a proper diet.
Have you ever experience sleep paralysis?
As the reality of the New Year sets in, many
Jamaicans are eager to drop all the pounds they have packed on during the
festive season. Needless to say though,
a lot of us will be in the same spot as we were last year or even the year
before. Within a month or two many of us would have lost all hope in
accomplishing our weight loss goal, mainly because we have made the very same
mistakes year after year. Against that back ground, here are the five biggest
mistakes we make when trying to lose weight;
According to a research done by the University of
Copenhage, a person who works out for 30 minutes a day will lose 40% more fat
than someone who works out for a longer period. Shocked? Don’t be, this is
because the longer you work out, your body will resort to using your muscles to
fuel your workout. Remember fat is the fuel use to keep the muscles in the body
active hence, the less muscle in the body the less fat you will burn at the end
of your work out. In addition, the body reads exercise as a stressor, therefore
when the body is stressed it will produces cortisol. Elevated cortisol due to
long periods of exercise may lead to an increase in blood sugar levels, retention of
fat around the mid-section and slowing down of the immune system. In essence it’s best to do short high
intervals work out for a maximum of 45 minutes a day.
Working out six to seven days a week does not give
the body adequate time to rest. Rest plays a very crucial part in muscle
recovery. Remember when you are working out you are not building muscles but
rather tearing them down. This means that the body will need time to heal and rejuvenate for
your next work out. Another important part of resting the body is getting
adequate sleep. Ever noticed after a good night’s rest, how flat your tummy
looks? This is because during sleep your body produces hormones that burn fat. According to a research published by Annals of Internal Medicine,
getting less than seven hours of sleep can undo the benefits of dieting. As
outlined in the study; 50% of weight loss by dieters who got adequate sleep were fat, while dieters who cut back on sleep loss less fat. The study even
further explained that dieters who did not get adequate sleep were hungrier; they
were also less satisfied after meals and lack energy to exercise. In summary
working out 3-4 times per week and getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night should
do the trick.
Not eating enough food to provide the body with
sufficient energy will put the body under stress and by extension slows down
your metabolism. This action also sends
the body into survival mode, this means it will hold on to the existing fat and
slows down the process of burning it so you won’t lose energy. It does this to prevent itself from starving and also providing energy to operate the vital organs. This very same
reaction can take place when you restrict yourself from eating certain food;
hence letting the body becomes deficient in certain nutrients. As stated by a dietitian
who works at the Western Regional Health Authority, “No food is bad”. Just make
sure you are eating in moderation while focusing on eating healthier, which is eating
more natural foods. If you eat healthy 80% of the time you will only need to
work out 20% of the time. This means that what you put in the body is four
times more important than any work out.
drinking enough water
Did you know that often times when you feel hungry
you are actually thirsty? Drinking water is one of the easiest things you will
ever do to lose weight. Drinking water aids in digestion of food, the proper
functions of organs and also makes you feel full so you will eat less. Not
drinking enough water can slow down your metabolism and hence reduces the
burning process. There are countless reasons why drinking enough water is a
vital part of any weight loss program, but more so it’s very important in the
body’s daily function. Remember water is life.
- Not doing exercise you love
Ever heard the saying, will power is a diminishing
resource? All of us at some time in our life have set out to accomplish some
dreams, but over time that level of will and determination fades in the
distant. One factor that could combat such a thing when trying to lose weight
is doing physical activities that you love. Dancing, Kickboxing, Running whatever
that is convenient and not burdensome for you to do.
Most importantly it is vital to listening to your
body, do not over-exercise, over-eat or vice versa, but rather do everything in
Once you practice these five steps listed above you
will realize that losing weight is not so difficult and burdensome after all.
Do you currently find it hard to lose weight? Leave your
comments and share your experiences.