People get sick from food all the time, and often it is preventable by following some simple food safety and hygiene practices. Usually, a foodborne illness is related to how food was handled, stored, or prepared at home. Many foods have to be kept cold in order to prevent them from going bad. Others need to be cooked thoroughly in order to remove any possible illnesses related to contamination. Hygiene practices such as thoroughly washing surfaces after preparation of food, and maintaining clean hands also goes a long way towards preventing illness. Some foods also come with more risk than others, so it’s good to know what you’re getting and how to avoid potentially harmful effects. There are plenty of ways to maintain food safety and hygiene standards in the kitchen. Here are some things to consider.
Clean Your Hands
One of the best ways to allow for good food safety and hygiene is to make sure that your hands are clean before you begin preparing a meal. Washing your hands with soap and water before you begin cooking will do the trick. Dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel afterwards. It’s important to clean your hands again if you handle raw meat or poultry during cooking. Otherwise, potentially harmful bacteria can transfer to other foods. Also, be sure to wash with soap and water if you do anything else that might contaminate food, such as handling pets, going to the washroom, or gardening.
Chill Foods Safely
Another basic tenet of food safety and hygiene is to store perishable foods in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready to use them. The refrigerator should be set at a temperature in the range of two to four degrees Celsius. If you have perishable leftovers from a meal, make sure to put them in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Freezing is another good option. It is uncommon for frozen foods to harbor dangerous pathogens that cause illness. At these freezing temperatures, most pathogens are unable to function. However, frozen foods are not sterile. For instance, meat still needs to be cooked thoroughly after they are thawed.
Cook Foods Properly
Some foods need to be cooked in order to maintain good food safety and hygiene. This is especially true when it comes to meats. While some meats are safe to eat raw, others must be thoroughly cooked in order to destroy pathogens. Bacteria or viruses could be present on the meat if it is prepared improperly. In general, red meat like beef or lamb does not need to be cooked all the way through. Searing the outside portion of the cut, and serving rare is acceptable. On the other hand, minced and processed meats, or those with cavities such as whole poultry should be cooked thoroughly before serving.
Learn About High-Risk Foods
Finally, it is good to learn about certain foods that pose a higher potential risk for infection. Raw meat is one of the biggest culprits. Be sure to keep raw meat away from other food to prevent contamination. Raw dairy products can pose a similar risk, so it is usually advised that you purchase pasteurized products. In the case of shellfish, make sure that you get it from a safe source, as some may contain pathogens or toxins. Sushi can be safe if it is prepared correctly and stored at the proper temperature.