Food poisoning: Tofu

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Tofu is considered as a highly nutritious, lean source of protein. On the other hand, since it complies with the criteria to be categorized as a potentially dangerous food, certain precautions should be taken in order to prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms. These microorganisms can grow on the tofu itself or in the water where tofu was packed in. Take note that tofu can be safely enjoyed as long as correct refrigeration and storage techniques are observed.

Close look on tofu

Tofu is made out of soy milk that has been treated with a jelling agent or coagulant such as calcium sulfate or magnesium chloride to form curds. These curds are pressed together to form blocks of tofu.

Take note that tofu is a good source of lean protein and low in sodium. It is also low in saturated fat and does not contain any cholesterol. Even though tofu has little taste on its own, it can take on various flavors of the ingredients it is combined with and a highly versatile ingredient in different dishes.

The signs and symptoms of food poisoning due to foodborne pathogens usually include nausea, gas, abdominal cramps, bloating, fever, vomiting, diarrhea or headache.

Cases of food poisoning from tofu

The cases of food poisoning due to tofu have been uncommon. In one case, many individuals reported symptoms of food poisoning after eating tofu but it was discovered that the bacteria came from the water the tofu was packed in.

The signs and symptoms of food poisoning due to foodborne pathogens usually include nausea, gas, abdominal cramps, bloating, fever, vomiting, diarrhea or headache. There are certain precautions to bear in mind when storing tofu and preparation at home in order to prevent the growth of foodborne pathogens.

Buying tofu

Always bear in mind that tofu is readily available in different types of packaging. The packaged tofu in water has an expiration date that must be checked to ensure freshness. There are some stores that sell tofu in bulk where large-sized blocks of tofu are floating in large bins of water. Remember that this might pose as a food safety risk and ask if it prepared daily.

The aseptically packaged tofu has a shelf life of up to 10 months. The tofu available in this packaging does not require refrigeration until the package has been opened.

Proper storage of tofu

Tofu must be stored in a refrigerator below 45 degrees F to prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms. The aseptically packaged tofu can last up to 10 months but once opened; it must be refrigerated and used within 2 days.

As for tofu packaged in water, you have to open the package, drain off the water and replace with fresh water on a daily basis. This type must be used within a week of opening the package.

In addition, tofu can also be stored in the freezer. When storing tofu in this manner, it must be thawed in the refrigerator. Once it has been cooked, any leftovers must be refrigerated right away.

Cooking and serving

Most of the packaged tofu available in stores has been pasteurized, properly packaged and correctly refrigerated. With this in mind, packaged tofu should be safe without cooking as long as the appropriate food safety precautions were observed.

Raw tofu available in bulk bins poses a higher risk since these products were not pasteurized and must be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F before consumption. In addition, you have to cut the tofu into chunks and steam or boil if for about 5-10 minutes.

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