How many times in Lebanon have we heard that famous phrase “Ekhid bared ya mama” when usually you have a headache or a mild to severe stomach ache that makes u break into sweat (especially in summer) along with gases (that threatens the ozone layer) and also mild to severe cases of diarrhea.
Ekhid Bared ya Mama… that’s the ultimate diagnostic of Lebanese Mothers.
Of course, it sometimes is true (not ekhid bared) but symptoms can be due to a virus, an infection, a “coup de soleil” etc etc…
But mostly in Lebanon, and specifically the cases of stomach aches and diarrhea are caused by light to mild cases of food poisoning… I can see the murky smile on my own mothers face like saying “shou fahhamak”…
Today, I won’t be going through food safety and hygiene in the Lebanese food industry. I believe that the hygiene starts in your own home, with our daily routine culinary behavior.
The problem is as follows: Mothers are the best cook ever, mothers make the best food ever, and mothers wants the safest with most nutrients food ever for their kids and grandkids. Who can argue with that? Or more accurately, who can argue with mothers about that!!!!
Truth is, there is a lot to argue about: mothers (and here I am talking about the toughest job on earth: mother at home), so, mothers do everything at home, so they fairly expose themselves to all kinds of bacteria, viruses, parasites and chemicals. Allow me here to open a small technical parenthesis to explain about the basic food hazards:
- Biological Hazard:
- Physical Hazard:
- Chemical Hazard:
- Any chemical compound found in a kitchen (Clorox – Dettol – Cleaning liquids) etc…
- Allergy Hazard:
- Food with high risk of causing allergies: Peanuts, strawberries etc…
Back to our mothers, and in our case, we will focus more on the 2 hazards, the biological and the chemical, as most mothers are well aware of possible allergies of their offsprings, and food poisoning from physical hazards such as plastic and wood have different symptoms (except for the hair that is plain disgusting and could be carrier of parasites and bacteria into the plate)
Ekhid Bared ya mama, while there could well be a salmonellosis infection (bacteria) from the chicken we ate this noon. Many possible causes for this infection:
- The chicken was not cooked thoroughly
- The knife used to cut the raw chicken was used again for cutting the cooked chicken (cross contamination)
- The chicken used, was thawed (defrosted) many times and refrozen again.
- The chicken was refrigerated for few days and was not well reheated before consumption.
So many causes for an infection, a serious one, while in our Ekhid bared ya mama scenario, the symptoms varies from stomach ache to vomiting, a severe infection can lead to explosive vomiting, hospitalization, and in some cases death.
Ekhid Bared ya Mama, while it’s actually a viral infection… Viral? from food? Mais of course mes ami(e)s, I will just give a small quick example: Mom is not feeling very well today, probably the flue or symptoms of early influenza, nothing serious and very common, of course mom never wears a mouth protection when sick (are you kidding me ? hayda bayte, tfaddal tla3 men el matbakh), but happens to sneeze, in the kitchen, not necessarily over the food (although that happens) but in the close confinement of the kitchen, a sneeze is enough to spray microscopical droplets that suspends sometimes in the air and end up on a freshly cooked plate ready to be served. Few days later, the family starts feeling symptoms (of course its influenza so they will be contaminated sooner or later… but wut if it’s something else..?)
Ekhid bared ya mama, while it could be a cleaning agent residue from a not properly rinsed plate or cup that is causing our stomach to convulse, ache and throw up
Ekhid Bared ya Mama, yeah… I’m telling you, most of it is caused from bad kitchen habits:
- Never leave food in a casserole outside the fridge overnight (because it’s freshly prepared)
- Never leave ANY food in a casserole outside the fridge overnight or more because it’s winter and well “fi bared” no need for a fridge (cooked food should be stored at less than 5°C) bacteria grow rapidly between 5°C and 60°C
- Try not to use any wood utensils in the kitchen as wood is an organic solid that can be home for bacteria, not to mention small debris that can fall into food.
- Mamas, please tie your hair properly and ideally wear a hear net (tla3 men el matbakh eltellak!!!)
- Wear gloves, your golden fingers, even if rinsed often, may harbor a huge multi bacterial colony that can cross contaminate the food.
- Cook well and enough the food you are preparing (over 75°C) for enough time (depending on what you are preparing.
- Always reheat the food at over 75°C for at least 10 min.
- NEVER thaw food and refreeze it, thawed food should be used the same day.
There are so many advices we can give you, dear readers, to pass on to your moms, should you decide you need help, please contact us through our blog and post your questions, not only we will help you hear less your mum’s favorite phrase “Ekhid bared ya Mama” but we will help you enjoy safer food with higher quality and nutrients for your family.
Gaston Le Concerned