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Say I do the safe way

Food at a wedding

August is just around the corner and with it, weddings. I looove weddings but on several occasions, my fairy tale moments have ended in a very sick stomach.

It is important to have enough food for your wedding, but you don’t want people remembering your wedding as ‘that wedding whose food got us really sick.’ So while looking for caterers, you need to put certain things in order. Ask questions.

Where do you shop for your food? Who goes shopping? How long before the wedding will you shop? Do you check expiry dates? How will you store it?

See the source matters. You know markets that have good and fresh foods, and that is where you want your food from. Again though the market has good food, only someone with an eye for freshness and expiry dates can get the best of these products: someone that also understands your wedding menu because as I have seen with caterers, certain meals require certain sizes of foods and of course quantities. Not forgetting that how the food is handled then-on could contaminate it. Let’s also agree that the longer before the wedding the raw materials are bought, the less fresh they are going to be. Again, how they are stored until then determines how safe they are for consumption, and whether they are still nutritious. For instance meats, dairy products, and foods that need to be refrigerated or frozen can easily go bad if stored at room temperature or stored at wrong temperatures, while vegetables lose nutrients and their freshness when bruised, chopped, or stored for long.

When will the food be cooked? This is especially important because we want to have food that is properly cooked, and as freshly prepared as possible. Bacteria like Salmonella are very common in egg, poultry and other animal product-based meals, E. Coli is common in under-cooked meat, fruits and vegetables for instance, and Bacillus Cereus notorious in starchy dishes like rice and potatoes which are almost a must have at weddings-I haven’t missed these two at any function-. Again, after preparation, it is important that the salads are kept cold and the food kept hot, not warm. This will minimize chances of these bacteria growing.

This is also not the day to try a new recipe. Stick to what you are comfortable with and the methods of preparation you consider safe. Insist on a little oil, and even be specific on which one. Have you seen stews that are all yellow, covered in layers of oil on top? This is not something you want to have. It will have you and your guests running around looking for washrooms. With all due respect caterers, it is not the oil that makes the food tasty, it’s how you prepare it and the condiments you use.

Only then can you be assured of dance and merry at the reception. Rather, all night long.

Christine Nderitu

Licensed Nutritionist and Public Health Practitioner, Christine, helps people lead healthy lifestyles through health education and behaviour change practices that are simple and practical. She writes a weekly (Monday) nutrition column in the People Daily and is experienced in nutrition management, research, health education and promotion in; HIV/AIDS, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Maternal and Child Health and Non-Communicable Diseases. She has been engaged in these activities since 2011. Christine feels the world needs more stories that celebrate and normalize desired (good) behaviour. And humanity-we have many preventable and often manmade public health issues today.