As summer approaches, most of us will emerge from our houses and start enjoying the nice weather, the food, and the places. In this excitement, we often forget to pay attention to the cleanliness and safety of food which often leads to foodborne illness.
The more hands and ingredients involved, the higher is the risk of foodborne illness. Food safety is something that everyone should be able to practice, whether at home or in the workplace. Nowadays we know much more about proper hygiene, food handling, preparation and storage to combat these outbreaks. As the fight to combat this issue wages on, there are specific measures we can take to protect ourselves daily. Utilizing the ‘Core 4’ principles of food safety remain a viable approach to limiting its prevalence.
Clean- Germs are one of the largest cause of foodborne illnesses, which is why it’s important to remember that a clean kitchen is a safe kitchen. Bacteria’s are present everywhere in the kitchen. If the utensils, food items, cooking areas or the person handling the food cycle is not hygienic it can lead to serious illness. Hands are the number one source in this regard. It should be ensured that all work surfaces are thoroughly cleaned, and free from cleaning chemicals, before using them.
Some basic tips are-
- Wash hands and food handling surface before preparation or cooking of food items.
- Fruits, vegetables and all the other food items should be rinsed and cleaned properly to eliminate diet and bacteria.
- Blanching of fruits and vegetables should be done to remove unwanted bacteria.
Separate-Even if you wash your hands, surface or the food items; you are still exposed to foodborne bacteria. This can happen due to cross contamination so to avoid it, use these tips-
- Use separate cutting boards for meat and other products.
- Do not place the cooked food on the surfaces that held uncooked foods.
Cook- Cooking is the basic step to convert food from raw material to finished products. Foods should not be kept in the temperature danger zone(40 to 140ºF) as the bacteria’s grow rapidly in this range causing spoilage. When the food is being cooked it reaches a certain temperature which is high enough to kill the bacteria’s that cause illness.
Some tips to keep in mind are:
- Ensure that the food is properly cooked as uncooked or raw food items can cause illness. Food is properly cooked when the internal temperature reaches a point where all the bacteria’s are killed.
Chill- Food should be stored at a particular temperature as it slows down the growth of bacteria that cause foodborne illness or spoilage. The bacteria cannot reproduce in cold temperatures therefore even the fresh and opened food items, which are likely to come into contact with small non-harmful amounts of bacteria should be refrigerated.
Some tips to keep in mind:
- The temperature of the refrigerator should be below 40ºF and that of the freezer should be below 0º.
- The foods which are perishable should be refrigerated immediately.
- Do not allow raw meat to sit out for more than 2 hours without refrigeration, as it is prone to spoilage.
- Marinating of foods should be done in the refrigerator and not on the counter.
- The refrigerator should not be over packed as it leads to improper airflow circulation.
Cross-contamination- Although it is ensured that food is free from bacteria, stored and cooked appropriately still the cross-contamination can lead to illness. The bacteria from raw, undercooked or spoiled food items can get transferred to the fresh ones and can lead to foodborne illness. Therefore the most important part of food safety is to keep fresh food separate from the spoiled food. Discard old cutting boards with excessive knife scars.
Over to you
By taking these principles into consideration, you can ensure the protection of your friends, family, and self, leading to better times and memories gained. Eat healthy and be safe!