Do you know all the steps you should take to ensure you handle food in the safest way possible? Proper food safety practices are especially important for commercial kitchens.
However, even if you’re only cooking for a small family, their health is paramount. After all no one wants to contract a food borne illness.
Here are five things you should bear in mind when handling food.
Wash your hands
It is generally accepted among public health practitioners that frequent handwashing is key is food safety. If you seek to get a food handler certification, this is one of the things that will be stressed. Hand washing gets rid of harmful bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus as well as viruses like norovirus. You should always wash hands with warm water and soap before and after handling food. The technique you use is important.
- Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together. Make sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds and then rinse them well under clean, running water.
- Air dry your hands or use a clean towel.
Purchase items in the right order
Proper food handling actually begins while you’re doing the grocery shopping. The United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends picking up refrigerated or frozen items after selecting non-perishables. You should never buy meat products which are in torn or leaking packages. You also shouldn’t buy expired food.
Store perishable food correctly
- Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours. If the temperature is above 90 °F (32.2 ºC), you should refrigerate within one hour.
- Ensure your refrigerator is at 40 °F (4.4 ºC) or below and the freezer at 0 °F (-17.7 ºC) or below.
- Wrap meats securely to maintain quality and to prevent meat juices from getting onto other food.
- If meat or poultry are stored in their original package, covering this with foil or plastic wrap can help to further maintain the quality.
- Canned foods are usually safe indefinitely unless they are exposed to freezing temperatures or temperatures above 90 °F. However, ou should not use the contents of cans that are dented, rusted, or swollen.
Pay attention to how you thaw
Meats and poultry can be safely and slowly thawed in the refrigerator. Just ensure the juices don’t drip onto other foods. For faster defrosting, place the food in a leak-proof plastic bag and submerge it in cold tap water. You should cook it within 30 minutes of thawing. If you use the thaw function on your microwave instead, cook the food immediately.
Cook and serve at the right temperature
Raw meats should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F (62.8 ºC) before they are removed from the heat source. Ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal should reach an internal temperature of 160 °F (71.1 ºC). Poultry should be allowed to reach an internal temperature of 165 °F (73.9 °C).
When serving, hot food should be kept at 140 °F (60 °C) or warmer while cold food should be held at 40 °F (4.4 ºC) or colder. Perishable food should not be left out more than two hours at room temperature or one hour when the temperature is above 90 °F (32.2 ºC).
Following strict rules is key to minimizing the possibility of foodborne illnesses. Knowing the dos and don’ts is not an option if you’re handling food.