Keeping food safe from bacteria is important for your health
This April 7 is World Health Day, and the theme this year is food safety. You might think food safety is something that restaurants, cafeterias, and other large operations might need to worry about, and you are correct. But have you ever thought about food safety in your own kitchen?
Here are some tips for keeping food safe in your own home:
1. Wash, wash, wash to avoid bacteria
- Be sure to wash your hands before eating or preparing food. A thorough hand-washing means using soap and water over your entire hands for about 20 seconds.
- Wash your kitchen items frequently with warm water and soap. This includes all flatware, serving utensils, cutting boards, knives, countertops, and tabletops.
- Put your sponges in the dishwasher to clean them, and replace them often.
- Wash fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens to help wash off bacteria and other contaminants.
2. Be careful handling raw meats and eggs
- Since raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can carry harmful bacteria, be careful when you are handling them. Be sure raw meats are covered in plastic and separated from other foods in your grocery cart.
- Store raw meats in your refrigerator in a place where they cannot cross-contaminate other foods by touching them or dripping onto them.
- Use a separate cutting board for these items and wash it well after use.
- Wash your hands and any plates or utensils that have touched the raw meats or raw eggs.
- Discard any packaging very carefully so that it doesn’t contaminate anything else.
3. Cook raw meats and raw eggs to their correct temperature
- Read the packaging so that you know the minimum temperature required for each different type of meat to be safe. Or use this chart from foodsafety.gov.
- Use a food thermometer—don’t guess.
- The “danger zone” in which bacteria multiply most quickly is when food is between 40°F and 140°F.
- If you are not going to eat the food right away, be sure to keep it warm. Keep it over 140°F so that it stays out of the “danger zone.”
- When re-heating leftovers, it is still important to heat them to about 165°F.
4. Refrigerate foods promptly
- Your refrigerator should be set at 40°F or cooler to slow the growth of bacteria. This keeps foods out of the “danger zone” where bacteria breed the fastest.
- Perishable foods should not be left out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours.
- Thawing foods on the countertops puts them in the “danger zone” where bacteria can grow quickly as they slowly warm up to room temperature. Instead, thaw them in the refrigerator, or use the microwave if you are in a hurry.
- Clean your refrigerator regularly and discard expired items.
With a little practice, you can make these tips part of your regular habits in handling food in your own kitchen. Happy eating!
This article was provided by the Harris School of Business. The Harris School provides career training in the fields of allied health and healthcare, and promotes public awareness through articles like these. If you are interested in learning more about our medical assistant training, dental assistant training, massage therapy training, or any of our other career-focused programs, contact us today!