you prepare food safely? Cooking at home is a pleasure for many of us, but we
sometimes forget that a health risk is involved – the risk of foodborne
illness. Although our food supply is generally very safe, there is always a risk
of food contamination. Perishable foods are susceptible to spoilage and
undercooking, and all food is susceptible to mishandling. Harmful pathogens are
usually undetectable by sight, taste or smell. So beware, what you can't see may
foods are perishable?
Generally, those high in moisture and protein, such as uncured meats, seafood,
poultry, eggs and dairy products. Prepared foods containing these ingredients
(sauce, for example) and most cooked dishes (including vegetables and grains)
are also unstable at room temperature.
is food poisoning?
Each year, many people contract a foodborne illness, frequently called
"food poisoning." A foodborne illness is caused from eating foods
contaminated with certain pathogens (disease-causing bacteria, parasites,
viruses or toxins produced by microorganisms).
Since common flu-like symptoms can occur up to two weeks after contact
with contaminated food, often those infected do not associate their illness with
the food they ate! Children, elderly people and those with weakened immune
systems are especially prone to foodborne illnesses.
news is that many foodborne illnesses are preventable. By following these simple
precautionary tips, you will greatly reduce your chances of contracting an
illness. So have fun in the kitchen, but stay safe!
What Should You Do?
In the kitchen:
wash your hands with warm, soapy water before handling food.
everything that touches your food clean. Wash and scrub your cutting boards
and utensils with warm, soapy water after cutting raw meat and poultry.
not use the same sponge that you wash dishes with to wipe off the kitchen
counters and stovetop. To disinfect a sponge, run it through the dishwasher.
If using dishrags, launder them often in the washing machine's hot cycle.
fresh produce with plenty of water. If necessary, scrub with a soft
vegetable brush. Discard outer leaves from lettuce, cabbage and other
kitchen counters and other surfaces with a cleaner specifically formulated
to kill kitchen bacteria. Bleach also works well for this.
recipes in which eggs remain raw or undercooked. Examples include homemade
mayonnaise, ice creams, mousses, chiffons, Caesar salad dressing or
Hollandaise sauce. Try to resist tasting cake batters and eating raw cookie
eggs until the white and yolk are firm.
fresh, refrigerated eggs without surface cracks. After purchasing,
refrigerate them as soon as possible.
using meat, poultry and seafood:
bacteria can spread during the grinding process, always cook ground meats
(hamburgers, sausages, etc.) until they are no longer pink.
frozen meats in the refrigerator slowly, never at room temperature.
meats that you do not plan to eat within 2 or 3 days.
not consume or reuse a marinade (which has been on raw meat) and always
marinate in the refrigerator.
poultry until the juices run clear; cook fish until it is opaque and flakes
with a fork.
not place cooked meat on a plate that previously held raw meat.
multiply rapidly between 40 and 140 degrees F. This is known as the
"danger zone." Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
your freezer's temperature at 0 degrees or below. Maintain your refrigerator
at 40 degrees or below.
not leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours.
raw meats, poultry and seafood on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. This
prevents the meat juices from dripping onto other foods.
not refrigerate large quantities of hot foods. For example, if you have a
large pot of soup, refrigerate it in a shallow container rather than in a
deep pot. Or, to cool a large pot quickly, put it in a sink and fill the
sink with ice water; stir the food constantly until it has completely
leftovers thoroughly, to at least 165 degrees F.
a food smells or looks old, don't taste it, throw it away! Even a small
amount of contaminated food can cause illness. Regularly clean out your
refrigerator and freezer.