Did you know that one in six Americans get sick from food-borne illness each year? There are a lot of myths about what is “safe” to do as far as food handling and preparation, especially at home. Hand washing, cooking food to appropriate temperatures and storing food properly are critical in preventing the spread of bacteria that grow in food. Here are some tips for proper food safety.
Tips for proper food safety:
Wash you hands!
You should ALWAYS wash your hands prior to eating and preparing food.
Washing hands the right way can stop the spread of illness-causing bacteria. Wet hands under running water, lather and scrub them well for at least 20 seconds. That includes scrubbing the back of your hands, between fingers and underneath finger nails. Rinse hands and dry them with a clean towel or air dryer.
When preparing food, it’s important to use clean surfaces and utensils.
Use separate cutting boards for meat, fish and poultry and produce.
Cook Food to appropriate temperatures
Use a food thermometer to ensure food has reached a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria.
Meat and poultry – 165 degrees
Fish needs – 145 degrees
Eggs – 160 (until yolk and white are firm)
Reheated leftovers – 165 degrees
Store & refrigerate foods properly
This includes refrigerating or freezing perishable foods within 2 hours of preparation to stop the growth of bacteria which can thrive at room temperature.
Don’t let food sit out to cool after preparation. Pack it up and store it relatively quickly to keep it safe. Freezer bags are a great option.
Refrigerator temperature should be between 32-40 degrees and freezers should be below 0 degrees.
NEVER thaw or marinate foods on the counter! Bacteria multiply quickly at room temperature and it’s best to allow foods to thaw in the refrigerator. Keep meats on a bottom shelf in the refrigerator when storing them so they don’t accidentally drip onto other foods.
Toss leftovers and expired food
Most food that’s been cooked can last for about 3-5 days in the refrigerator. After that, it’s a good idea to toss it because perishable foods spoil quickly and can be growing bacteria even if they haven’t begun to smell bad or show visible signs of spoilage. Many items can be frozen even after they’ve been cooked.
Periodically check expiration dates
Check dates on condiments and other items like spices or dry goods that need to be replaced less frequently. If they’re expired, toss them. The cost of replacing an item is insignificant compared to the risk one takes of getting food poisoning. When in doubt, throw it out!