As the common saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Every individual is charged with keeping food safe, whether for personal consumption or otherwise, to limit food-borne illnesses.
We are all about raising awareness about food safety as well as providing information to help tackle it; thus, this compilation of ten simple tips to help you achieve food hygiene at all times.
1. Wash your hands properly before handling food
This should be done with soap and water, preferably of warm temperature. Follow these steps to optimize this process:
- First, wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap.
- Make a lather and scrub all parts of your hand for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands thoroughly and dry using a clean paper towel.
- Use a paper towel to turn off the faucet if available.
2. Rinse produce
Before eating, cutting, or cooking any fresh produce, rinse them under running water. At the barest minimum, this reduces the transfer of microbes from its outer surface to its insides.
3. Sanitize cooking surfaces
Surfaces should be washed with hot, soapy water. A solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water can be used to sanitize surfaces.
Note: this is also concerned with surfaces you place food produce on, inside and outside the kitchen.
4. Keep appliances clean
Clean the inside and the outside of appliances. The buttons and handles, which are most frequently touched, are especially important to limit cross-contamination.
5. Clear refrigerated foods once a week
Clear your fridge at least once every week. Discard food items that shouldn't be eaten anymore to prevent possible food poisoning.
6. Separate foods when preparing and serving
Always use a clean cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw seafood, meat, and poultry. Also, never place cooked food back on surfaces that previously held raw food.
7. Separate foods when shopping
Place raw seafood, meat, and poultry in plastic bags. Store them below ready-to-eat foods in your refrigerator.
8. Cook foods to "safe" internal temperatures
An effective way to lower the incidence of food-borne illnesses in your home is thorough cooking. A food thermometer is a tool that will be of great help!
Note: You should cook raw beef, pork, lamb, veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a safe minimum internal temperature of 145°F and an ideal temperature of 160 °F. Poultry meats should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 °F.
9. Store foods at safe temperatures
Cold foods should be stored at 40 °F or below and hot foods at 140 °F or above. A food item may not be safe for consumption if it has been stored in temperature conditions between 40-140 °F for more than 2 hours. Beware!