Too Hot To Handle – updated

Sometimes when feeding blended meals via g-tube, the food is actually too hot to put in the tummy!  Our mouths are our first line of defense, protecting our bodies from food that is too hot to eat.  But we still have to protect our stomachs from very hot food.  If we can burn our mouths with food, we can certainly burn our stomachs, as well.

When I make a quick batch of blended food sometimes it is too hot for immediate feeding.  Here is a great solution that works quite quickly (but see my update at the end of this post):

Bag of Ice in Blended Food

The advantage of putting ice in a bag before putting it in the food is that it prevents dilution.  If you are trying to control calories, or maximize them, adding water would of course reduce the calorie count per ounce.

I’ve also tried running cold water over a syringe.  The bag of ice in the food works much more quickly.

Quick tip:  If the syringe full of food feels hot in your hand, it is most likely too hot to deliver to a stomach.




I was very happy to get some additional information from a colleague – a PhD and Chef who is the Senior Instructor in Food Safety & Sanitation at the Hawaii Foodservice Academy.  He explained why we should probably sanitize the outside of the ziploc bags before plunging them into our food:

“The cooling process you are describing is very similar to the “ice paddles” that we use in kitchens to cool large pots of soups and liquids very quickly. It is a very effective cooling method.

The reason I recommended sanitizing the bags is because they are being used to cool food specifically for someone with a g-tube. Normally the bags would not need to be sanitized if they are new. This step would only be necessary if the individual with the g-tube happened to have a weakened immune system, either caused by an illness or medication that they may be taking.

The bags are made to FDA food grade container specifications, but as any food container they are primarily concerned with the sanitation of the inside of the container not necessarily the outside of it. The inside of the bags are sanitary, but the outside of it may not be because the manufacturers nor the FDA foresee food intentionally coming into contact with the outside of the container.

Let me give you a little first-hand experience that I had with Zip Lock bags. When I was younger I used to work for Dow Chemical where Zip Lock brand bags are manufactured, and I would see the processing and storage conditions they would go through.

When the bags are made, they experience high enough heat in their production to kill off any bacteria that may be present at that time. Since the plant does not manufacture food or medications, bacterial testing is not required by the FDA to be performed on the assembly line for bacteria. Then they are packed in thin cardboard boxes that are not sealed airtight and sit for months in dusty warehouses before being shipped out.

After Dow Chemical I was a cross-country truck driver, and one of our contracts was for Dow Chemical once again. I would haul the same Zip Lock bags from the plant to distribution warehouses in other parts of the country. They are not treated as food products, so they are not required to be kept in an environment that is as clean as if food were kept in it. You would not want to know some of the things I have seen in these warehouses. Finally they travel to grocery stores where they are once again treated as something that should be kept clean.

I was actually “introduced” to the world of microbiology and foodborne illness when I contracted a foodborne illness from eating in a hospital cafeteria. I have dedicated the rest of my life to learning as much as possible about foodborne illnesses, their cause, and how to prevent them. I am now in the middle of writing a book on the subject. ”

Thank you, Dr. Anderson, for this very helpful information!  From now on, I will be spraying the outside of bags with either a 10% bleach solution or a 10% vinegar solution and letting them sit for a few minutes, then rinse and dry before using IN food.


5 thoughts on “Too Hot To Handle – updated

    • Thanks for the great recommendation, Chef! I only use bags manufactured according to the FDA’s food grade container requirements, and I do not reuse them. I do not see the need to further sanitize brand new bags, since they go directly from being extruded plastic, turned into bags, and into the box. Is there something else I should know about this process? Thanks for visiting and thanks for your input!

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