Preparing food at home is an imperative part of nutrition, insuring that it is prepared safely is equally important. There are four simple steps to keep your family safe while preparing and serving food at home.
Four Areas of Food Safety
We all know it is important to wash our hands, but did you know that you should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing or consuming food?
Fruits and vegetables also need to be cleaned before chopping, cooking, or serving them. Some foods, like potatoes, require light scrubbing with a veggie brush.
Surfaces and utensils used during food preparation need to be cleaned and sanitized when introducing a new ingredient to prevent cross contamination.
When storing items in the refrigerator place produce and ready to eat items on the top shelf. Eggs and whole meat, like steak or pork chops, should go on the second shelf of the refrigerator. Ground meat should go on the third shelf, and poultry should always go on the bottom shelf. Displaying food in this manner will help stop juices of raw meat from contaminating ready to eat items.
Always keep fresh produce separate from meat, practice this while shopping as well! This will prevent the spread of bacteria. Be sure to use a separate cutting board for meat and vegetables.
Bacteria that can cause food poisoning multiply quickest when they are sitting at temperatures between 40° F and 140° F, also known as the “Danger Zone.”
Using a food thermometer is the best way to confirm if food is cooked to the proper temperature.
The proper way to check is to place the thermometer in the thickest part of the food, wait 15 seconds from the point at which the thermometer stops moving to make an accurate read of the temperature. Hot food should remain at or above 140° F. If using a microwave, food should always be heated to at least 165° F.
It is important to properly chill all food within two hours of cooking. Make sure that your refrigerator is set at a minimum of 40° F, and your freezer should be at 0° F. Food should also be thawed in the refrigerator or in cold water to avoid the rapid growth of bacteria that occurs at room temperature. Food should not overload the refrigerator or the freezer; it should be placed so that there is an opportunity for air to flow.
When storing, food should not overload the refrigerator or the freezer; it should be placed so that there is an opportunity for air to flow.