Bacteria, viruses and parasites can make you sick if they find their way into food you eat. Fortunately, most people can avoid foodborne illnesses by following safe food handling practices.
The four fundamental food safety principles–Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill–work together to keep you and your family healthy. By adhering to these tips, you can help reduce the risk of serious illness or death due to foodborne illness or death.
Wash Your Hands
Handwashing is an essential method for keeping your hands free of germs and infections, as well as helping to prevent the spread of diseases like the common cold or flu that can spread from person to person.
Washing your hands is a great way to protect the health of your family members, especially children, those with weak immune systems and older adults. The most effective way to do so is with soap and water.
Soap is highly effective at killing germs, even those resistant to antibacterial products. However, it’s still recommended to use regular soap (not an antibacterial soap) when washing your hands.
Before and after handling food, always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to eliminate any soap residue.
Before prepping foods such as meat, poultry, fruits or vegetables for cooking, always wash them first with hot soapy water to eliminate germs that have stuck to them. Doing this helps prevent cross-contamination between raw and cooked meals.
Once you are finished preparing the food, it is essential to wash all utensils, cutting boards and countertops with soap or bleach solution for cleaning them.
Washing your hands is the single most important step you can take to protect yourself and others from illness. The ideal way to do this is with soap and water or a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
It is essential to thoroughly dry your hands with a paper towel or other clean cloth after touching anything, as moist hands can be an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Furthermore, turn off the faucet before doing this so that no moisture remains on surfaces.
Reduce your risk of foodborne illnesses by following these simple food safety tips. These best practices can be broken down into four categories: Clean Separate Cook Chill
Germs that cause foodborne illness can linger on your hands, utensils, cutting boards and countertops. Therefore, it’s essential to wash these items frequently in order to prevent bacterial growth and spread. Utilizing a kitchen sanitizer (as directed) or bleach solution of 1 teaspoon bleach per 5 mL of water is an effective way to keep bacteria at bay.
Additionally, you can separate foods when shopping, prepping and transporting them to your home. Doing this helps avoid cross contamination between raw and cooked items.
It is essential to separate fruits and vegetables from meat, poultry and seafood before purchasing them. Doing this helps avoid the juices from raw meats and fish leaking onto your freshly purchased fruits and vegetables.
One simple way to achieve this is by using different cutting boards for raw and cooked food preparation. Many brands sell multi-colored cutting board sets that enable you to keep fresh produce separate from raw meats, poultry, eggs, and seafood while making meals.
Another useful solution is to place raw foods in plastic bags or containers, so that juices don’t seep onto other dishes. Doing this also prevents germs from contaminating your fridge.
If you won’t use raw meat, poultry, eggs or seafood within a few days, freeze them. Store them in an airtight container or sealed bag that won’t leak so that they’re easy to transport back to the refrigerator when ready for consumption.
Refrigerate Foods Quickly
To reduce your risk of foodborne illness, it’s essential to refrigerate foods quickly and thoroughly. Doing this helps ensure that your foods don’t become breeding grounds for bacteria that can lead to illnesses or poisoning from food.
Bacteria thrives most rapidly between 41 degrees and 135 degrees Fahrenheit, also known as the “Temperature Danger Zone.” This is where most foodborne illnesses take place.
Maintain the temperature of your fridge and freezer at 40 degrees or lower to prevent harmful bacteria from growing in foods stored there. Be sure to check these temperatures frequently, in order to guarantee they remain optimal for storage.
Before refrigerating your food, it is essential to cool it quickly. To do this, divide the items into smaller portions or use an ice bath. This will expedite the cooling process and get your food at a safe temperature of 41 degrees in less time.
Once your food has been cooked, place it on a plate that was not previously used for raw meat, poultry or seafood. Doing this prevents juices from dripping onto other items which could allow bacteria to spread rapidly.
Once your meal is ready to serve, take it off the plate and store in either a sealed container or refrigerator. If reheating is desired, do so within two hours after cooking.
Hot leftovers should be quickly cooled, divided into smaller containers, and refrigerated within 2 hours after cooking. Doing this prevents bacteria from growing in your food and helps it remain fresh for an extended period of time.
Cook Foods Well
One of the best ways to prevent foodborne illness is cooking your foods thoroughly. By doing so, you can significantly reduce the risk of bacterial contamination by up to 80%.
To make the perfect roasted vegetable dish, it’s essential to use the right ingredients, cook them at the correct temperature and serve it correctly. For instance, when roasting vegetables in a supermarket oven, be sure to increase the temperature higher than usual and use a thermometer to guarantee they reach an internal safe temperature.
Another way to cook safely is to reduce the amount of cooking oil you use. This is especially critical for vegetables, fruits and nuts since they absorb a lot of fat if exposed to too much heat.
Finally, consider using alternative cooking methods such as steaming, boiling or frying instead of the traditional oven and stove top. These techniques have many advantages including preserving food flavor and nutrients.
Following the above tips will enable you to savor your food more and avoid foodborne illness. We hope these suggestions keep you and your family healthy for years to come, so good luck! If any questions arise, feel free to ask in the comment section below; our staff are happy to help! Alternatively, visit our website for even more helpful information.
Check the Expiration Date
Before purchasing and eating food, always check its expiration date to make sure it’s safe to eat.
Common dates found on food labels include “sell by,” “use by” and “best if used by.” These don’t indicate how long a product will remain fresh; rather, they indicate when to consume it for maximum nutritional value.
Some states require expiration dates for meats and dairy products, so it’s essential to double-check those dates before purchasing these items.
Even if you don’t need to worry about the expiration date, it is still essential to inspect the product for signs of deterioration. If it looks dry, has an unpleasant taste or smells funny, chances are it has been compromised.
Additionally, if the package is leaking, it could be contaminated with bacteria and should be discarded. Do not store foods in damaged packaging as this will only make them less tasty and fresh.
Another way to determine the expiration date of a food product is by looking at its Julian date format or closed coding. You’ll typically find these dates on canned goods, crackers, pasta and other shelf-stable foods like canned goods.
Food should be consumed before its expiration date or as recommended on a refrigerator chart. Some perishable items, like milk and eggs, should be refrigerated upon arrival at home.
Certain foods may last longer than their recommended storage durations. Generally speaking, food that has been stored properly at 40 degrees or lower remains wholesome and nutritious if kept at that temperature or lower. For instance, yogurt can be stored up to two weeks past its “use by” date, cereal up to eight months and unopened packages of frozen fruit and vegetables usually stay good for 10 months or more.