Food Safety - Is Your Kitchen Making You Sick

Updated: Feb 4

Those flu-like symptoms may be the result of contaminated food from your very own kitchen. That's right: Foodborne illnesses occur three times more often from food prepared in private homes than from commercially-prepared food.


The causes of foodborne illness are often due to improper storage, unsafe food handling, lack of cleanliness, and poor refrigerator maintenance. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that this year foodborne illness will affect one in six Americans and result in 3000 deaths.


It's time to give your kitchen a health overhaul. Below are four common home food safety fouls and how to correct them with proper #foodsafety techniques.


Foul 1: Rinsing Meat, Poultry, and Seafood


Fix: "Many people believe that rinsing meat gets rid of bacteria, but it actually spreads it because the water splashes the bacteria all over the kitchen", says Bethany Thayer, registered dietitian, director of wellness programs at Henry Ford Health System, and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "The only way to get rid of bacteria is by cooking food to the proper internal temperature."


Foul 2: Not Cleaning Fruits and Vegetables


Fix: "When fruits and vegetables aren't cleaned and then they're peeled or cut, the bacteria from the surface of the product can be easily transferred by the knife to the inside of the produce", says Thayer. "Be sure to rinse produce and scrub, if necessary, to get the dirt off. Local and #organicproducts are just as likely or maybe more likely to have bacteria clinging to them."


Foul 3: Is Food Edible Based on Smell


Fix: "Not all food smells bad when it's spoiled", cautions Thayer."You can find safe storage charts for food online. You may be surprised by how short the safe storage times are."


Foul 4: Marinating Food At Room Temperature


Fix: "Some people think because marinades are acidic, they kill the bacteria, so it's okay to marinate food on the counter", says Thayer. "But #bacteria grow really fast at room temperature. Marinate in the fridge."


BASIC TRAINING FOR FOOD SAFETY


"Many of us learned food practices from our parents", says Thayer. "We know so much more now about food safety than 50 to 60 years ago."


Wash


Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before preparing food, after hands come in contact with raw meat or poultry, and before eating. Wash between fingers and under fingernails for the length of time it takes to sing the ABC song.


Clean food preparation surfaces, such as countertops and cutting boards, before and after food preparation with soap and water or a bleach solution (one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water) - allow drying in air. Wash towels and #sponges often and replace sponges every few weeks.


Discard cutting boards when they become excessively worn and develop hard-to-clean grooves.


Separate


To stop the transfer of bacteria from utensils to food, use separate cutting boards for raw meats, poultry, or seafood and for ready-to-eat food like fruits, vegetables, and bread. Once the meat, poultry, or seafood has been cooked, place it on a new clean or clean serving platter, instead of the same one used to hold the raw food.


Cook


Always use a food thermometer to ensure food is cooled to a safe internal temperature. Reef, veal, and lamb: 145 degrees F. Pork and ground beef: 160 degrees F. Poultry: 165 degrees F.


Refrigerate


Keep a refrigerator thermometer on a shelf in the refrigerator and check it periodically to make sure the temperature is below 40 degrees F. Thaw foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter or in the sink. Refrigerate leftovers in containers intended for #food storage as soon as possible and definitely within two hours of preparation.


Label containers with contents and date of preparation. If cooked leftovers are not eaten within three to four days, throw them out.

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