Guess who’s coming to dinner this Thanksgiving? Better treat the fixins with lovin’ care or it might just be Clostridium perfringens and her kissing cousins Campylobacter jejuni and Salmonella typhimurium. You don’t want to potlatch with these natives, for they offer but diarrhea, nausea and cramps.
Clostridium, salmonella and campylobacter are the three most common causes of holiday food poisoning, explains Ralph Judd, a bacterial pathogenicist and biological sciences professor at the University of Montana. More often than not, however, avoiding these gremlins is just a matter of proper hygiene, cooking and post-feast storage. Judd has a few simple, common-sense rules to keep you and yours out of abdominal distress next Thursday. The three biggies: “Keep raw food away from cooked food; use hard—not wooden—cutting boards; and wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.”
According to Judd, salmonella is the original gangsta badass. The organism, which causes some 20,000 to 30,000 cases of food poisoning every year, has a special affinity for poultry, but some preventive cooking strategies can greatly reduce the risk. Dispense with the slow oven, Judd advises, and cook the bird in a 325-350 degree oven until a poultry thermometer stuck in the bird’s thigh registers 180 degrees—a lethal temperature for harmful bacteria.
Store leftover food in the refrigerator as quickly as possible. And be extra-vigilant about the gravy: clostridium bacteria can change into spores if temperatures get too hot—and multiply rapidly when the gravy cools down.
Clostridium-stricken gravy. Sheesh. Pass the tempeh! •••
Ever since the last full moon, we have noticed a disturbing and precipitous rise in the number of inquiries regarding this newspaper’s current ownership. Specifically, nasty rumors abound that the Independent, Montana’s fourth-largest paper and one of the last non-corporate news outlets in the state, has been snagged by the ever-trolling tractor beam of Lee Enterprises, the Davenport, Iowa-based mothership of the Missoulian and four of the seven largest dailies in Montana. While the story sounds plausible enough at first glance—after all, the Hungry Horse News, the Whitefish Pilot, and the Ravalli Republic all crossed over to the Dark Side in 1999 alone—that great sucking sound emanating from the Pigstink State has not consumed us! Rest assured, dear readers, that the Independent remains just that, independent. Hence the name. As always, we are locally owned and operated by our benevolent leader, Matt “No, it’s not for sale” Gibson, who insists on publishing an organically grown newspaper without applying nasty pesticides or other artificial fillers and using only corn-fed, free-range staffers.
While we’re dismantling the rumor mill, we should also dispel some of the other whispers we’ve overheard in the bars and back alleys of the Garden City. In brief, Matt Gibson is not gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that), long-time staff reporter Sarah Schmid did leave the newspaper this week, but not to give birth to an alien love child, and the identity of the gender-bending Calendar Kid remains ... a mystery. Got a juicy rumor of your own? Call us at 543-6609.