The Science Behind Keeping Food Cold

by Jackie Edwards

1 in 10 people around the world become ill from after eating contaminated food. Chilling and freezing food is essential in preventing bacteria from multiplying on it, which can lead to illnesses, including food poisoning. However, sometimes bacteria can grow quicker than you’d think and by the time it’s chilled it may have already got bacteria growing on it. Research has helped our understanding for the best methods of chilling and freezing food to prevent bacteria growth and food poisoning.

Refrigerate When It’s Hot Or Cold?

It’s a common question whether you should let food cool down to room temperature before putting it in the fridge. Before modern fridges came along it was a good idea to let food cool down because putting hot or warm food in a fridge caused the temperature of it to rise, affecting everything else in the fridge. However, technology has made fridges more powerful and they can now easily handle warm food being put in them without the temperature of the fridge increasing much. Wait for food to stop steaming and when it reaches 60°F it can go in the fridge. This is better for food as it doesn’t give bacteria chance to multiply which is a common cause of food spoilage and poisoning.

Bacteria In Your Ice Cream

It’s an assumption that putting food in the freezer stops bacteria from growing or that it kills bacteria altogether. Most bacteria can’t survive in freezing temperatures, but unfortunately, this is not the case for all bacteria and some thrive in the cold environment. Freezers limit water and food sources, but some bacteria will thrive on frozen sugary foods, dairy and meat products. Ice cream contains a high sugar and dairy content, making it a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. One case in Kansas found at least three different strains of the Listeria bacteria in ice cream that led to five people being hospitalised and three dying. A study in Egypt found 42 out of 100 ice cream samples contained faecal coliform and 37 contained Klebsiella.

Stop Cross Contamination  

If you suspect that your freezer may have had a food in it that had bacteria growing on it then the best thing to do is to throw all food away and thoroughly clean your freezer. This is because the bacteria could have spread further than the originally contaminated food and it has the potential to grow on other foods and the sides of the freezer. You should also store food in containers in the fridge and freezer. This does take up more space, but it will keep food fresh and prevent cross contamination, so it can be beneficial to have a big enough fridge/freezer to adequately store food. This can prevent an outbreak within your fridge or freezer and the containers can be easily cleaned instead of having to throw food away or unknowingly eat contaminated food.

Food poisoning and other foodborne illnesses are often preventable, yet so many people are affected by them every year. A lot of this is down to a lack of knowledge and understanding about safely storing food in the fridge and freezer. As soon as food has stopped steaming, put it in your fridge to prevent bacterial growth. Be aware that bacteria can grow in cold temperatures, so use containers to separate food and prevent bacteria spreading.

5 Reasons to Become an Environmental Engineer

by Megan Ray Nichols 

Environmental engineers use science and engineering to help the environment through better design. Multiple fields hire this type of worker, so you won’t have a shortage of job offers anytime soon. If you care about the environment and want to help the planet through a new career or a change from your current one, consider environmental engineering.

1. Protect the Environment

The main reason many enter environmental engineering is the ability to help the planet. In many manufacturing sectors, this position focuses on lessening industry’s impact on the planet. Though solid waste and water management are among the areas in which environmental engineers work, these are not the only ones. In the oil and gas industry, these engineers ensure compliance with regulations concerning pollution reduction and keeping nearby natural resources pristine.

2. Make a Good Salary

Depending on your degree, you can make an excellent salary in environmental engineering right after graduation. Though this varies widely, the average starting salary for environmental engineers is nearly $59,000. As of May 2017, the annual mean wage for environmental engineers is $91,180, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which means you might expect to earn more with a few years of experience under your belt. If you decide to start a consulting company, as many environmental engineers do, you could earn even more.

3. Job Security and Growth

If you get a degree in environmental engineering, you’re looking at a stable job market and future growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected environmental engineering jobs will grow by 12.4 percent between 2015 and 2024. This growth places it second only to the percentage growth for biomedical engineering among engineering jobs. By 2024, there could be 62,000 environmental engineering jobs.

4. Enjoy Multiple Career Fields

Environmental engineering is specialized, but there are so many applications for it, you could find yourself in a range of diverse fields. Environmental engineers first have chemical or other types of engineering degrees. That allows flexibility when searching for a job. Since so many fields have an impact on the environment, you could find yourself in the oil and gas industry, working at a waste management plant or finding ways to discover the source of pollution.

Waste management and water treatment facilities are other places where environmental engineers have a major impact on people’s lives. Without these fields, disease would run rampant. One of the earliest successes in environmental engineering was the creation of London’s sewer system by Joseph Bazalgette to stop the surging cholera outbreak in the 19th century. Thanks to sanitary waste disposal, such epidemics are uncommon in modern societies.

5. Make a Change for the Good in the Oil and Gas Industry

If you love the environment and lament the impact some industries have on it, become an environmental engineer. These positions help oil and gas companies cut back on the air and water pollution created in the drilling and extraction processes. Environmental engineers can work to prevent contamination of the surrounding environment and promote longevity of drilling equipment.

You may also help the industry reduce their wastewater and air pollution. Thanks to environmentalists’ efforts — including engineers — acid rain, which is the result of air pollution, has dropped up to 70 percent in some areas of the planet. Creating plans for wastewater disposal to prevent damage to the local ecosystem is another way environmental engineers work with the oil and gas industry. Until people discover a workable way to use completely renewable energy, fossil fuels will still prevail. As an environmental engineer, you can help this sector become greener.

Education for Environmental Engineers

Though you can get a job as an environmental engineer with just a bachelor’s degree, you may need further training. Graduate programs that get you a master’s and bachelor’s degree in just five years could be the right choice if you have the time to devote to be a full-time student. You may need an environmental engineering degree, a chemical engineering degree or a degree in general engineering. You will still need classes in chemistry, biology, math and various sciences to earn whatever degree you choose. Not all schools offer these programs. Talk to a counselor about your career and education goals.

Help the Planet and Boost Your Career

With a career in environmental engineering, you can make a true difference in the planet. You’ll be able to help industries that may not have been environmentally conscious in the past change their ways to become better stewards of natural resources. Additionally, you can help with the age-old problems of safe and sanitary waste disposal and water processing. Getting clean water and removing waste will always be vital parts of sustaining a healthy and prosperous society. Environmental engineers help change the planet and people’s lives through their work. And this field will only expand as humans search for more ways to help the Earth.

 

 

The Science Behind The Perfect Cup Of Coffee Explained

by Jackie Edwards

Coffee drinking in the US is at its highest level for 6 years with 64% drinking coffee daily and 79% of those people preparing their daily cup of coffee at home. Scientifically speaking, the perfect cup of coffee has volatile oils and caffeine in abundance but with bitter organic acids kept to a minimum. Here’s how you can use science to influence the quality of your daily cup of coffee.

Beans And Roast

The perfect cup of coffee starts with the beans themselves. Arabica and Robusta are the 2 most popular beans in the coffee market. Robusta contains greater amounts of caffeine as well as chlorogenic acids which have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties as well as being linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, Arabica contains larger amounts of Trigonelline, a bitter tasting alkaloid linked to battling cancer cells. As far as roasting is concerned, the strength of the roast produced by the different roast time affects the way the sugars and fats in the coffee degrade and how the sugar and amino acids react with each other affecting how it tastes. Lighter roasts have a cleaner taste and are more acidic with the darker roasts tasting less acidic with a stronger, heavier taste.

Coarseness Of The Bean Grind

The coarseness of the bean grind affects the speed that your coffee is made, which, in turn, affects the taste. The finer the grind the shorter the time needed to make your coffee due to the greater available surface area for extraction. A finer ground also leads to stronger, tastier coffee because more caffeine, oils and organic compounds will be present. Take care though, if the grind is too fine it may end up tasting too bitter.

All About Brewing

How you brew your coffee is as important as the quality of the raw materials themselves. The ideal brew ratio is a subject of much discussion amongst scientists. Too much water and the coffee tastes weak; too much and it is overly strong and unpalatable. There is also evidence to show that the calcium and magnesium ions found in hard water make a more flavorful cup of coffee than if clean distilled water is used. Scientists know that temperature affects solubility and compound extraction and the same applies when you make your cup of coffee. The hotter the water used to make your cup of coffee, the faster organic acids and caffeine are extracted. However, if your coffee boils, your coffee will be bitter and the aroma and flavor evaporate. A temperature of 195°F to 205°F is ideal according to the National Coffee Association.

How you brew your coffee is as important as the quality of the raw materials themselves. The ideal brew ratio is a subject of much discussion amongst scientists. Too much water and the coffee tastes weak; too much and it is overly strong and unpalatable. There is also evidence to show that the calcium and magnesium ions found in hard water make a more flavorful cup of coffee than if clean distilled water is used. Scientists know that temperature affects solubility and compound extraction and the same applies when you make your cup of coffee. The hotter the water used to make your cup of coffee, the faster organic acids and caffeine are extracted. However, if your coffee boils, your coffee will be bitter and the aroma and flavor evaporate. A temperature of 195°F to 205°F is ideal according to the National Coffee Association. 

As in any science experiment, there are many variables to consider when making the perfect cup of coffee and everyone’s tastes differ. The type of beans, roast and grind influence the quality of your morning coffee along with the heat and amount of water used to make your cup of joe.