When you go to a restaurant you don’t usually think about food safety. That’s because you know that there’s a Food Code that restaurants must comply with in order to stay in business. But do you think about food safety in your own kitchen?
The CDC reports that 1 out of 6 Americans get sick from eating contaminated food each year. Home cooks are often relaxed about food safety, but it’s important at home as well as in restaurants.
Don’t just think about food safety around the holidays or when you have guests over for the Razorback football game. Food safety is important every day and at every meal. Take a leaf from the professionals’ book and follow the four basic principles of food safety.
You always want to wash your hands before preparing or handling food. A quick rinse with cold water won’t cut it. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, and dry with a clean towel.
Make sure that counter tops, cutting boards, knives, and utensils are thoroughly cleaned before use.
Wash fruits and vegetables before cutting or peeling.
Do not wash poultry, meat, or eggs. This can actually spread bacteria around the sink or counter tops. Thoroughly cooking meat or eggs to the proper temperature will kill all harmful bacteria.
Wipe down counters and wash dishes after food preparation and cooking.
Never use the same utensils, cutting boards, or plates for raw meat and vegetables without washing them first.
While you should always wash utensils and dishes after use, designating cutting boards to keep meats and vegetables separate can further help prevent cross-contamination and food poisoning.
Keep raw meat separated from produce and ready to eat foods.
Cook meat and poultry to the recommended minimum temperature to help prevent food poisoning. A food thermometer can help you know the exact temperatures.
Poultry should be cooked to a temperature of 165 °F
Ground meat should be cooked to 160 °F
Beef, pork, lamb, chops, steaks, and roasts should be cooked to 145 °F
Avoid consuming raw eggs, or recipes that call for uncooked eggs.
- Microwaving food for 30 seconds might take the chill away from that leftover chicken wing or casserole, but that doesn’t make it safe to eat. Leftovers should be reheated to 165 °F to kill germs and bacteria.
Store foods such as dairy, fruits, vegetables, eggs, meats, and any food that may spoil within 2 hours after being served. Of course, if you’re serving food outside, or the indoor temperature is high, food should be stored much sooner.
Bacteria multiplies quickly in temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F.
Make sure that your refrigerator works properly. Refrigerator temperatures should stay between 40 °F and 32 °F. Your freezer should stay at or below 0 °F.
Urgent care is a suitable option for non-life-threatening cases of food poisoning. Visit a MANA MediServe Walk-in Clinic for any urgent medical services.