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The Dangers of Overnight Chilled Watermelon: Key Points Many Overlook

Overnight iced watermelon has been trending again. It is said that it can eat 8,400 bacteria in one bite. It is useless to cut off the surface before eating it. Looking through the news reports, almost every year there are reports of people going into shock, being admitted to the ICU, and suffering from small intestinal necrosis after eating overnight iced watermelon. Looking at it this way, it seems that freezing watermelon overnight is really dangerous? !

In fact, the key to the danger of freezing watermelon overnight is not in the overnight, ice, and watermelon. Why do you say that? What should you pay attention to when eating melon safely? Let’s talk today.

Why food poisoning is dangerous
The key is not overnight, ice, or watermelon

The risk of poisoning from eating overnight iced watermelon mainly depends on the various aspects of cutting and preserving the melon.

Watermelons and other fruits grow on the ground and are in direct contact with the soil, so the skin may contain pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli, Listeria, or Salmonella. These pathogenic bacteria are only on the rind of the melon, and what we eat is the pulp, so in theory there is no need to worry. But the problem lies in the process of cutting the melon. When the knife comes into contact with the bacteria on the melon rind, after cutting the melon rind and cutting into the melon pulp, the melon pulp will also be contaminated.

In addition, if the melon-cutting knives, chopping boards, the hands of the person cutting the melon, the hands of the person eating the melon, etc. are not clean, they will also contaminate the melon flesh.

If the contaminated melon pulp continues to be placed in an environment of 5-60 degrees Celsius, pathogenic bacteria can multiply in large numbers. Even if it is not overnight, it may be unfit to eat after just 1-2 hours.

Therefore, the key to whether it is dangerous is not to check whether the watermelon has been stored overnight, but to see whether the process of cutting and preserving the melon and whether food safety and hygiene are paid attention to.

How to eat melon safely?

The following precautions apply not only to watermelons, but also to all types of melons.
When cutting watermelon, pay attention to:

  1. Buy fresh fruits and melons; if you buy pre-cut melons, make sure they are kept refrigerated.
  2. Before cutting the melon, wash the melon skin carefully with clean water; especially the rockmelon melon, which I have mentioned before as a high-risk listeria food.
  3. Wash your hands carefully with soap and water before and after cutting the melon.
  4. Chopping boards, knives and other utensils and table tops that may come into contact with melons must be kept clean and hygienic. For example, clean it with hot water and detergent and dry it before use; do not use a cutting board or knife that has been used to cut raw meat or seafood to cut fruits and vegetables. It is best to have a special cutting board and knife for cutting vegetables and fruits; if not, then Make sure to wash it thoroughly before use.

When preserving watermelon, please pay attention to:

  1. Whole watermelons do not need to be refrigerated and can generally be stored for 7-10 days.
  2. Cut melons must be placed in the refrigerator within 2 hours; melons left at room temperature for more than 2 hours should not be put in the refrigerator or eaten, but discarded.
  3. Cut the uneaten watermelon and wrap it in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out or being contaminated and spoiling. It is recommended to store it in the refrigerator below 5 degrees. Ideally, it is best to eat it within 1-2 days. (Note: If there is contamination during the cutting process, or the hygienic conditions in the refrigerator are not ideal, the shelf life will be shortened. The principle is to eat it as soon as possible; if there are any signs that the watermelon may be stale, such as changes in texture, smell, or taste, just be discarded).

General principles for preventing food poisoning

Children under 5 years old, pregnant women, elderly people over 65 years old, and other people with limited immune function due to diseases or drugs are more likely to suffer from food poisoning, or food poisoning may lead to more serious consequences. Summer is the season with the highest incidence of food poisoning. Finally, I would like to emphasize again the general principles for preventing food poisoning (some of which were mentioned earlier when cutting melons and preserving watermelons):

  1. Wash your hands properly: Wash your hands properly with water and soap before preparing food, before eating, after touching raw meat, after going to the toilet, after sneezing, and after changing your child’s diaper.
  2. Pay attention to kitchen utensils and environmental hygiene: for example, the table tops used for food preparation should be clean, and dishcloths and tablecloths should be washed and replaced in time. Do not leave easily perishable food or ingredients at room temperature for more than 4 hours.
  3. There must be a clear distinction between raw and cooked food. For example, fruits that can be eaten directly should not come into contact with raw meat. Although we will not intentionally put the two together, we should not cause the two to come into contact by sharing cutting boards, sharing plates, etc. In addition, raw meat should be placed at the bottom of the refrigerator to prevent the blood of raw meat from flowing onto other cooked foods.
  4. The temperature of the refrigerator and freezer should be controlled below 5 degrees.
  5. Chicken, pork, various types of sausages, eggs, etc. must be cooked thoroughly before eating.
  6. Food that cannot be finished should be placed in the refrigerator within 1-1.5 hours and eaten within 1-2 days.
  7. Do not eat spoiled food. Do not eat food that smells, tastes, looks or feels different, or has expired.