Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Food thermometers and your frozen meal

Let’s talk about frozen meals and food thermometers.  What?  Food thermometers??  Do I even own a food thermometer??  Well, according to many manufacturers’ cooking instructions, it seems as though internal temperature testing is a critical component of frozen food preparation.  Indeed, in the meal I just enjoyed, the final cooking instruction was: “Internal temperature needs to reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit as measured by a food thermometer in several spots.”

Hmmm.  Read that again.  While still technically listed as an instruction, it is a passive statement that doesn’t make a demand of its reader.  It seems as though CYA tactics may be at work here.

But wait, this food has already been fully cooked, hasn’t it?  Well, yes.  But it seems as though a salmonella outbreak is still possible.  Earlier this year, the CDC reported that 30 people in 15 states became infected with an identical strain of Salmonella Chester, and many of the victims reported having eaten an identical Marie Callendar’s frozen meal in the week before they became ill. The CDC recommended testing frozen meals to assure that they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit as a method to prevent Salmonella contamination. 

Do what you will with this information.  I’m considering a food thermometer for my pencil cup on my desk at work.  Maybe.  We’ll see. 

A frozen meal for the upper crust?

Today’s meal is the Healthy Choice Lobster Cheese Ravioli.  I believe it would only take one hand to count the number of times I’ve eaten lobster in my life.  Perhaps this is not an opinion held widely, but I sort of feel like lobster is a bit too rich for my blood.  So a frozen meal that contains lobster, albeit in a small, ground portion like in this ravioli, just *feels* sort of odd to me.  As I sat in my office, catching up on some emails from earlier in the day and pondering a financial spreadsheet, it just seemed like a weird thing to be eating. 

Lobster strangeness aside, there are several good things about this meal.  The sauce is a thin but tasty “vodka” sauce, according to the package; there’s a lot of it, which is good.  The yellow and green zucchini (is the word “zucchini” interchangeable with “squash”?  I’ve never been too sure…) developed the expected mushy consistency when it was heated, but the flavor was good.  The ravioli was somewhat tough; as a rule, it usually seems to me as though ravioli is often one of the tougher pastas out there, but it could also be that the circa 1977 microwave in the office contributed to the toughness (more on that microwave in a future post…). 

This meal is not particularly notable as a source of key nutrients; 20% of Calcium and Vitamin B12 are the only nutritional contents worth mentioning.  In the end, I don’t think I’d put this meal on a list of personal favorites, but it is good to know that there’s a frozen meal option with lobster meat, given the seemingly endless parade of chicken entrees.  

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