Contaminated food or water paves way for pathogenic parasites, bacteria, chemicals and toxins causing more than 200 diseases ranging from diarrhea to cancer. The high-risk group includes children, elderly people, pregnant women and individuals with lowered immunity. Updating yourself on the food safety practices to follow while preparing food reduces your risk of food poisoning and helps you stay healthy. Follow these guidelines to ensure food safety:
Keep Everything Clean
Make it a point to wash your hands before food preparation, after handling raw meat or poultry, after touching face or hair and after sneezing, coughing or using the bathroom. Hand washing techniques are clearly explained in detail in the website www.firsteatright.com. Replace your kitchen sponge for a washcloth as it is easier to launder. None of us love to clean the fridge. But keep your fridge all neat and tidy by cleaning it every few weeks. This helps to remove potentially hazardous residue from raw meat and poultry, soil from vegetables and also helps you get rid of spoilt leftovers that can otherwise make you sick.
What Goes onto the Top & What Goes onto the Bottom?
Place ready-to-eat foods at the top counter of the fridge. Keep foods such as raw meat and poultry that may ooze bacteria-laden juices at the bottom of the fridge to minimize contamination. Also store food in containers or in paper bags to avoid cross-contamination and use foods within a couple of days of purchase.
Use a Thermometer to Check Internal Temperature
One out of every four hamburgers turn brown before it’s fully cooked. Hence it is safest to use a food safety thermometer to check the internal temperature of the cooked food instead of relying totally on the color of the food. Accurate temperature readings can be fetched by inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. Avoid inserting the thermometer into the bones or the bottom of the pan as these can give a false temperature reading. Use an alcohol swab to clean the thermometer after use and keep it a point to reheat leftovers until they’re piping hot.
Keep Hot Foods Hot & Cold Foods Cold
During hot summer days, keep the food items in a cooler on your ride back home from the supermarket. Pick out cold and frozen foods as the last shopping items in your shopping list. Thaw foods inside the fridge and not on the counter. Keep hot foods piping hot until served and cold foods very cold as intermediate temperature foods are in the “danger zone” at which microbes can multiply rapidly.
Wash Food Materials with Running Water
Don’t hesitate to clean water filters, coffee makers and refrigerator water dispensers with a 50-50 water and white vinegar solution to prevent mold buildup. Always purchase raw foods from clean sources and wash the produce before chopping and eating. Food safety is important for any of us. If you even have the slightest doubt that some food is unsafe to eat, just don’t consume it. It is much more better to throw it out.
Dietitian Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.