Mett, Harzer scooter, smoked salmon: Many clinics serve risky food

Those who like it heartily like to eat meats and smoked salmon, but these foods often contain pathogenic germs. Many clinics and homes are unaware of this and unnecessarily put their patients at risk.

Most people have already experienced that food can transmit germs: salmonella in tiramisu, listeria in tartar or E.coli in lettuce.

It becomes particularly dangerous when people with an underdeveloped or weakened immune system encounter the pathogens. Nevertheless, many clinics and nursing homes are exposing their patients and residents to unnecessary risks, warns the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL).

BVL inspectors had reviewed a total of 1880 hospitals and homes in 2017. In the menus of the institution, they often came across foods such as Mettwurst, Harzer or Limburger cheese and smoked fish, reports the BVL. This is risky: raw sausage, red smear cheese and uncooked fish are particularly often contaminated with germs that can lead to dangerous infections in sick or old people with weakened immune systems.

Only one in ten controlled hospitals or homes have deliberately avoided such risk foods when it comes to food, according to the annual food monitoring report. More than half (55 percent) of the facilities did not even know the recommendations for menus of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), which exist to protect sensitive groups of people.

"It is frightening that in so many institutions in which one should get well, there is a risk of getting food," said BVL President Helmut Tschiersky.

Who is considered particularly vulnerable to foodborne infections?

As particularly sensitive groups of persons, the BfR classifies people whose defenses are not yet fully developed or impaired. These include:

  • Infants and toddlers up to the age of five,
  • Senior citizens,
  • pregnant,
  • People whose defenses are weakened by previous illness or medication.

photo gallery

14 pictures

Food Hygiene: How to banish bacteria from your kitchen

Which foods require special care?

The supply of raw milk is legally prohibited in community facilities. Also, food with raw egg may only give out facilities if it is ensured that Salmonella has been killed before it is given.

In addition, the BfR lists a number of foods in which it recommends that they be heated sufficiently - or waived - directly before being distributed to sensitive groups of people. These rules include:

  • Soft cheese made from raw milk,
  • Sour milk cheese and soft cheese made from pasteurized milk produced with surface smear (for example Harzer, Mainzer, Ölmützer Quargel, Limburger, Munster)
  • home-made ice cream,
  • fresh Mett, Tatar and similar raw minced meat preparations like Carpaccio
  • spreadable, quickly ripened raw sausages (for example, fresh sausage, tea sausage, Braunschweiger),
  • unprocessed fish products or shellfish (for example sushi, oysters),
  • hot or cold smoked fishery products (for example smoked salmon, smoked trout fillet),
  • Graved salmon,
  • sprouts,
  • Frozen berries.

Most pathogens die when food is heated to 72 degrees Celsius for at least two minutes, even in their midst.

How else can the risk of foodborne infections be reduced?

In addition, the BfR also calls other ways to reduce the risk of infection for particularly sensitive people:

  • Raw consumed fruits and vegetables should not only be washed if possible, but also be peeled.
  • Fruit (especially pieces of melon), raw and blanched vegetables and lettuce should be consumed immediately after chopping or stored in the refrigerator.
  • In addition, it is important to cool food quickly. Some bacterial spores can survive cooking processes of up to 100 degrees. If the food cools down slowly, the bacteria have the opportunity to multiply. Products that are cooked and served cold (such as pudding) should therefore be cooled to below ten degrees within a maximum of two hours and then stored at seven degrees Celsius until dispensing.

These recommendations apply in addition to the general rains for good kitchen hygiene. This includes, for example, washing your hands well after processing eggs or raw meat, maintaining the cold chain before processing, and making sure that risky ingredients do not come into contact with raw ingredients such as lettuce.