July 3, 2013 by thehealthyheartcenter
When cooking and working with food it is incredibly important to take precautions in order to not spread bacteria. With the holiday cookouts coming up and when it comes to keeping your family safe there are some general rules of thumb you must know. Luckily if you follow these simple tips you’re significantly decreasing the risk.
Wash, wash, wash those hands!!
You cannot wash your hands enough – proper hygiene is the most important precaution of them all! Wash before and after handling food and you’re good to go. Also, wash everything from utensils and cutting boards to countertops after use. And before cutting up produce, make sure you rinse those fruits and vegetables.
This is an easy way for bacteria to spread when you don’t separate your food. When dealing with raw meats, eggs, and seafood keep them away from all other ready-to-eat foods. Try to separate them when storing as well so the raw juices don’t leak onto other foods. Wash your cutting board in-between uses of different kinds of foods.
Time and Temperature
Food must reach a high enough temperature when cooking to be considered safe (having killed the harmful bacteria). The temperature danger zone where bacteria can thrive is known to be between 41ºF and 140ºF. Therefore keeping your food out of this range is ideal to prevent bacterial growth. Having a food thermometer is ideal for meat, poultry and egg dishes.
The following are the minimum internal temperatures that should be reached before consuming:
Beef: 145°F Poultry: 165°F Ground Meat: 160°F Fish: 145°F
If you do not have a thermometer or before you buy one you can make sure you cook all foods to a high temperature before consuming and refrigerate them quickly when restoring.
Refrigerating foods quickly is also important in order to slow the growth of harmful bacteria after it is not incredibly hot (and inhibiting bacterial growth) anymore. Keep your fridge at a temperature of 40°F or below with your freezer at 0°F or below.
Try not to let your previously cooked food out for longer than two hours.
When defrosting, use the refrigerator or microwave instead of leaving out in room temperature. If you use the microwave you should then cook it immediately.
When transporting lunches from home to school/work include a small frozen ice pack and store perishable items in an available refrigerator if possible. Insulated, soft-sided lunch bags are ideal but if using others make sure you provide some insulation. If you are using a simple paper bag, double bag it.