Time for our Saturday chat. Today we are going to talk about another important topic that is observed during September. That topic is “Food Safety Education.” Yes, I know everyone just rolled their eyes because they’ve hear all of this before. However, we always go out on a picnic or even cook at home and forget a lot of the basic rules about food safety. Keeping your food safe is a matter of 4 steps. Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. Let’s talk about each one:
- Clean:Wash hands and surfaces often. Illness-causing bacteria can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils and cutting boards. Wash hands right away with plain soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. Wash utensils and surfaces after each use. Wash veggies and fruits, but not meats, poultry and eggs.
- Separate-Don’t cross contaminate: Even after you have washed your hands and surfaces thoroughly, raw meat, poultry and eggs can still spread illness-causing bacteria to ready-to-eat food unless you keep them separate. Use separate cutting boards for meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. Keep meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from all other foods at the grocery store. Keep meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from all other foods in the refrigerator.
- Cook to the Right Temperature: Use a food thermometer. Cooked food is only safe if it has been cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Color and texture alone won’t tell you if it’s done. Instead, use a food thermometer to be sure. Keep food hot after cooking (at 140 degrees or above). The possibility of bacterial growth increases as food cools after cooking because the cooling temperature allows bacteria to thrive. Microwave food thoroughly (165 degrees), To make sure harmful bacteria have been killed in your foods it’s important to microwave them to 165 degrees or higher.
- Chill-Refrigerate Promptly:Did you know that illness-causing bacteria can grow in perishable foods within two hours unless you refrigerate them (and if the temperature is 90 degrees or above in the summer cut that time down to one hour). Refrigerate perishable foods within two hours. You can freeze almost any food. That doesn’t mean that the food will be good to eat — or safe. Never thaw or marinate foods on the counter. Since bacteria can multiply rapidly at room temperature thawing or marinating is one of the riskiest things you can do when preparing food for your family. Know when to throw food out. You can’t tell by just looking or smelling whether harmful bacteria has started to grow in your leftovers or refrigerated foods. Be sure and throw food out before harmful bacteria begins to grow.