Summer is the perfect time to picnic and cook outdoors, but the warm weather also creates the perfect environment to support the growth of harmful food bugs. Food tends to spoil more quickly during the summer. It is important to pay extra attention to your food and look for unusual odour and mould before consuming it, say experts.
Indrayani Pawar, team leader, dietitian team, Hinduja Healthcare Surgical and Varsha Gorey, clinical nutritionist, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, suggest some tips:
* Which foods spoil quickly?
Foods with high moisture content and protein based foods are easy targets for micro-organisms. Milk and milk products, raw and cooked meats and vegetables are more prone to spoilage compared to dry food items. Foods that are high in sugar, or salt or with high fat or oil content in contrast don’t spoil quickly because these act as preservative agents.
Storage becomes important here – low temperatures serve to preserve these food items. One must ensure food is not kept outside for long periods of time.
* How to identify bad food?
Spoilt food has a telling smell. Quite often, food items that look fine on the outside have mould or fungus growing inside which people don’t notice. It is always better to check the food for any unusual odours and open the food item to check for unusual signs, such as stringy threadlike growth. Dairy based Indian sweets are more likely to spoil quickly compared to dry fruit and nuts based, pulse and flour based or dry coconut based sweets.
* Eating well during the summer
Seasonal fruits and vegetables are always the best option in their respective seasons. In order to quench thirst in summer, fresh fruits and vegetables should be consumed (as they are also good in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals). Smoothies with curds, or simple buttermilk are better options than fizzy or cold drinks. Curd will help to soothe the stomach by providing probiotics and easy to digest proteins.
* Eat safe while travelling this summer
If you’re travelling long distances during the summer, it is best to carry dry foods. Nuts and oil seeds, roasted chiwdas, roasted makhana, multigrain khakaras and chikki are some examples. Kokum sherbet, aam panha, nimbu pani, buttermilk and lassi are also great for the summer.