Let's Re-enact — Except the Dysentery
By Susan McLellan Plaisted, MS RD
To prevent us from reliving the dysentery and gastric disorders as part of our re-enacting history, it is imperative that concerns of food safety be followed. There is a high risk of this problem occurring with the quantities of foods that have to be transported to various historical locations.
Breads and grain products, fresh fruits and vegetable will spoil, mildew, and wilt, but they are not the primary culprits of causing food poisoning.
The prime culprits are dairy and poultry, meat and fish-based products. In protein foods, the correct temperature and moisture provided, bacteria multiply rapidly and cause food borne illnesses. High temperatures can kill the bacteria that has started to develop, but if we eat these foods without heating them to boiling, we will become sick.
Bacteria were an unknown phenomenon during the Revolution, but even at that time the men were advised that provisions ought to be boiled or roasted, never fried, baked, or broiled which methods were considered very unhealthy.
If we follow diligently, a few simple rules of food safety, food borne illnesses will be foreign to our regiments.