Food Safety While You Are Cooking

Food-Safety-While-You-Are-CookingYou have decided to choose a healthier approach to eating, while preparing those fabulous home cooked meals, you will want to keep food safety in mind. Understanding food safety and safe food preparation and storage will eliminate the risks of foodborne bacteria and preventing food induced illnesses.

Following a few simple rules can prevent your family from getting sick.

Use plenty of soap and water. Soap and water are valuable tools in the fight against harmful bacteria. Wash your utensils before using them to cook or serve and if you use a utensil to cook, wash it before you use it to serve. Bacteria from raw food can easily contaminate utensils used while cooking. Make sure you wash your hands both before and after you handle raw food.

The same rules apply when grilling. If you are cooking outdoors, the same cleanliness rules apply. If water is limited, use antibacterial wipes to both clean your hands and the area you are cooking in and adjacent work surfaces. Making sure everything you use to cook and serve remains clean to help prevent illness. 

Separate meats and vegetables. Never use the same cutting board to cut meat and vegetables. Cutting boards can harbor bacteria from raw meats which then transfer to whatever is put on them. Make sure to use a cutting board for meat that can be sanitized. Put cutting boards in the dishwasher or washing in the hottest water possible using a good antibacterial soap. Cross contamination is a common problem when preparing meals.

Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Food temperature is an important factor in food safety. Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40℉ and 140°F. Keep your food out of this “Danger Zone,” Raw foods and foods requiring refrigeration should be kept below 40℉ to prevent the growth of bacteria. Keep raw food in the refrigerator until ready to cook. Food in the Danger Zone can quickly grow bacteria so make sure and refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible and food left out more than 2 hours should be discarded.

Precautions for Hot Foods 

Keep hot foods hot means keep hot foods above 140°F or higher.

Don’t partially cook foods as the food may not reach a temperature high enough to destroy bacteria.

Most meats and poultry should be cooked at 325°F or above.

When reheating leftovers, stir often and ensure that all portions of the food reach 165°F before serving at 140°F. Always discard questionable leftovers.

Precautions for Cold Foods

Always take fresh perishable foods home and refrigerate immediately.

Foods chill faster (and reach a safe temperature) when space is left between them for cold air to circulate when stored in the refrigerator and freezer.

A refrigerator thermometer helps ensure your refrigerator is cooling at 35°F to 40°F.

Do not thaw foods at room temperature for extended periods.

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