It is important to handle food properly to prevent illness. Learn the best food safety practices to keep you and your family safe.
This blog post was written with our patients and participants in mind.
We think about food throughout the day, but do we ever think about food safety? Probably not, and that is a problem. Foodborne illness can happen anytime and anywhere with any meal.
Foodborne illness results when we eat something contaminated with harmful bacteria. It affects millions of U.S. Americans each year. Symptoms often include diarrhea and nausea. Some cases can be so severe that they can result in hospitalization or even death.
The U.S. has one of the safest food supplies in the world. There are legal obligations companies must meet to protect consumers from contaminated food. That explains why you may occasionally hear about food recalls in the news. But foodborne illnesses can also happen because of the choices we make or fail to make when we prepare food.
It is important to always handle food properly to keep us safe from illness. Read the guidelines below to make sure you and your family use best practices to avoid harmful bacteria.
Food safety experts recommend that you cook food to 165°F for safe consumption. A food thermometer can tell you if your food reaches 165°F.
Where you place the thermometer in your food is very important. We recommend that you place the thermometer toward the middle of your food as that is usually the last area to cook thoroughly.
If you place it in the middle and it reads 165°F or higher, then your food is safe to eat!
Never consume food that was cooked hot or served cold if it has been left at room temperature for over 2 hours. The U.S. Department of Agriculture calls food temperatures between 40°F and 140°F the “danger zone” because bacteria grow rapidly within those temperatures.
You cannot get rid of bacteria already formed on food by reheating it in the microwave because some bacteria are heat resistant. Therefore, food left out for more than 2 hours should be thrown away or composted.
Leftovers save you money and reduce food waste, so they are a good idea! But you have to be careful. Follow these tips to make sure your leftovers do not make you sick.
Food safety precautions and best practices apply to all foods, but they are especially important when you use ingredients that have a higher risk of dangerous bacteria.
There are several foods that increase your risk of food poisoning and require specific preparation methods. Click each food to learn more.
Cross-contamination happens when harmful bacteria on affected foods spread to foods without bacteria. Cross-contamination occurs in several ways:
Here is how you can keep your food safe from cross-contamination:
Hygiene is an important part of food safety. Use the tips below to maintain good hygiene in the kitchen.
Handwashing is the first line of protection in food safety. Here is a step-by-step guide on the right way to wash:
We usually remember to wash our hands before and after we cook. However, there are other times when we will need to wash up as we prepare a meal. For example, it is best to wash your hands any time you handle raw meat, eggs, or flour.
Also, make sure you wash your hands after you touch anything that carries bacteria, such as:
And remember to always wash your hands before and after you eat!
More bacteria live in your kitchen than in any other area of your home. Kitchen counters, dishcloths, sponges, and sinks can carry E. coli. Cutting boards that handle raw meat contain 200 times more fecal matter than the average toilet seat (gross but true!) The good news is that we can reduce exposure to harmful bacteria and foodborne illnesses with a clean kitchen.
Clean your kitchen counters and sink often. Use a disinfectant kitchen cleaner to wash your counters and sink at least once a day and any time after you cook.
Clean your refrigerator every couple of months. Bacteria can grow in your refrigerator, especially if you have any spoiled food in there. Bacteria can also thrive when there is cross-contamination between foods. Deep clean your refrigerator at least 3 or 4 times a year to get rid of those germs!
Clean appliance handles regularly. Meal preparation often requires several appliances. When you touch the microwave handle, an oven knob, or the sink faucet, you leave behind germs each time. Make sure to clean the areas of your appliances you touch the most!
The right food safety precautions are worth the extra time and effort because even a mild case of food poisoning can disrupt your life. Do not let harmful bacteria impact the joy you feel when you eat your favorite meals. Follow the food safety guidelines above and dine with peace of mind!