Introduction: Food Safety At Home
According to the FDA, there are 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses in the United States annually, which is equivalent to around 1 in 6 Americans. Fortunately, these illnesses can be prevented by prioritizing food safety at home, so here are six tips on how to do so:
1. Wash Your Hands
Seems simple enough in theory right?
In January 2022, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) completed an observational study of participants cooking in a test kitchen to see if these people know proper food safety. Surprisingly, USDA researchers concluded that these participants failed to successfully wash their hands 97% of the time.
Even though this statistic may seem shocking, below is a step-by-step process on how to wash your hands the right way.
- Turn on the faucet and wet your hands with clean running water.
- Turn off the tap water and throw lots of soap on your hands. Make sure not to forget to rub the back of your hand and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry them.
2. Cook Your Food to the Right Temperature
When cooking in the kitchen, if you are unsure your food is fully cooked, please trust your instinct and keep the food on the stove. Chances are, your instinct is likely correct.
An easy way to keep tabs on the right temperature of your food is to use a thermometer, especially when cooking meats or poultry. Eating raw food that is not at the right temperature can cause various symptoms such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and fevers.
If you are unsure about the correct temperature for specific foods you cook, please check out this post for more information.
3. Prevent Cross-Contamination
What exactly is cross-contamination?
The Minnesota Department of Health states: “Cross-contamination is the physical transfer of harmful bacteria from one person, object, or place to another”. So how can you prevent cross-contamination?
- Use different utensils, plates, and chopping boards for cooked and raw food.
- Wash utensils, plates, and chopping boards in between tasks.
- Don’t wash raw meat and keep it separate from cooked food.
- Cover raw meat properly in the fridge and keep it separate from other meat.
- Wash your hands in between and after handling raw meat.
4. Don’t Leave Food Out Overnight
Do you ever think about eating that slice of pizza left out overnight after having a good time with your friends? Speaking from personal experience, don’t do it.
Chances are, that slice of pizza is contaminated with food-borne illnesses, which is N you. However, here is a general idea of how you should go about storing food in the fridge or freezer that you may have gotten from a restaurant or cooked.
- Store your food in the refrigerator after 1-2 hours of leaving it out.
- Keep your leftovers in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Anything after that time should be thrown out.
- If you are looking to keep food for a while, putting your cooked or raw food in the freezer can last anywhere from 1-3 months.
- When reheating leftovers, ensure that the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
5. Wash Your Produce
Even after purchasing that apple from the grocery store that you are desperately trying to eat after leaving, just don’t do it (yet).
Washing your produce properly makes a huge difference in how much bacteria is removed from your items and what you will be consuming. According to Healthline, the primary benefit of washing fruit is removing unwanted residue and germs from the surfaces, while also keeping yourself safe.
6. Keep Your Area Clean
Well, this is kind of self-explanatory. In the home kitchen, it is crucial to remember to always keep your area clean when cooking food, especially when handling raw foods.
In a kitchen here are some simple ways you can effectively keep your area cleaner:
- Put away your dishes while your food is cooking.
- Wipe the counters and sink with cleaning wipes.
- Mop and sweep the kitchen floors.
In summary, six actions you can take today that can increase food safety at home include:
- Washing Your Hands
- Cooking Food to the Right Temperature
- Preventing Cross-Contamination
- Not Leaving Your Food Out Overnight
- Washing Your Produce
- Keeping Your Area Clean
By following these six simple tips, you can protect yourself from potential food-borne illnesses when cooking in the kitchen at home. Click the following link on how to protect your family from these foodborne illnesses during the summer.