by The Welthi Bureau 11th May, 2019
If you love ice cream and are eating a lot of it this summer, then you need to be aware of a few key facts about this fun food.
Ice cream, if not stored properly, can become a health hazard, causing food poisoning in some cases. Before buying ice cream, it’s important to check the date on the container. Once you buy it and place it in your own freezer, you need to follow some storage guidelines, and make sure that you consume it within the stipulated period. Basically, pay attention to when the ice cream was purchased, when it was opened, and how safely it has been stored.
You need to understand that ice cream is a perishable product and should be treated carefully. When exposed to temperatures above 10 degrees F, ice cream and similar frozen desserts become subject to adverse changes in body, texture and flavour. Because of the fluctuating temperatures in most home freezers, and also given power outages in some places, ice cream can be negatively affected if not carefully handled and stored.
Yes, ice cream has an expiry date.
Just because it’s frozen doesn’t mean it’s imperishable. Only buy ice cream after checking the ‘sell by’ date. The fact is, ice cream is vulnerable to bacterial contamination that can make you sick. Bacteria thrive in protein-rich foods that are also full of water, including eggs, poultry, meat, fish and milk products. Freezing ice cream and other frozen dairy products slows bacterial growth, but doesn’t kill the bacteria, which start to grow again as the ice cream thaws. The risk increases after the ice cream carton has been opened and some of the ice cream removed. You can save yourself a lot of pain by discarding any ice cream that thaws completely, keeping in mind the danger of bacterial growth. Symptoms of food poisoning include fever, nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, dehydration and diarrhea, which may last a few hours or several days. The illness may be mild or serious, depending on the bacteria involved.
Say no if it’s not solid
Ensure that ice cream and other frozen desserts are frozen solid when you buy them, and that the container is not frosted over or sticky, which indicates that the ice cream has partially thawed at some point and can therefore be a potential health hazard. Request that ice cream be wrapped in an insulated bag or double bagged to reduce the chances of melting on the way home. To be doubly safe, bring an insulated cooler with you when you shop for ice cream, to keep it as cold as possible during transit.
Count the days after the carton is opened
Ice cream that hasn’t been opened can be stored in your freezer for up to two months, if the freezer temperature is consistently maintained at zero degrees Fahrenheit, and there have been no power outages. Once the container has been opened, however, do not keep it longer than two to three weeks, sealing the carton with plastic wrap to prevent the formation of ice crystals. Ideally, if you have opened a carton of ice cream, it is advisable to finish it within ten days.
Enjoy ice cream this summer – but enjoy it responsibly!
Food poisoning can cause dehydration and other complications, so if you suspect that you or a family member are suffering the effects of food poisoning, seek medical help immediately.
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