When you eat at a restaurant, you want to know that the restaurant kitchen has an “A” rating from the health inspector. But what about your kitchen? If the health inspector came for a visit, what would you get?
Food safety is just as important at home. Luckily, it’s not too difficult. Just follow a few simple rules, and your clean kitchen will prevent food-borne illness from affecting your family.
Start at the Store
You can start being health-conscious with your food before you’ve even bought it.
Pick Up Cold Items Last.
Your cold items will stay cold and fresh that much longer. If you have a long drive home from the store, consider investing in a cooler for your cold items.
Keep Meats Contained.
Raw meat should be separated from other foods, especially uncooked foods like fruit to avoid contamination from meat juices. Avoid pre-stuffed raw poultry.
Check for Cracks.
You know not to buy cracked eggs, but the same principle is true for fruit. Avoid fruit with cracked or broken peels.
Use the Smell Test.
Check the date on packages, of course, but if the food doesn’t smell right, don’t buy it.
Buy Pasteurized Products.
The pasteurization process kills many harmful germs, making your food that much safer.
Continue at Home
Creating the right conditions keeps your food fresh and safe after you bring it home from the store.
Check Storage Temperatures.
Make sure your refrigerator and freezer are set at the right temperatures (40° F and 0° F, respectively), especially if your children like to play with the thermostat!
Store Raw Meat and Eggs Properly.
You should decide quickly whether to freeze your meat purchases or use them fresh because raw meat must be cooked or frozen within two days of purchase. You can safely freeze raw meat up to four months and cooked meat up to three months. Fresh, raw meat should be sealed and refrigerated where its juices cannot leak onto other foods. Keep eggs in the main body of the refrigerator, not the door shelf.
Prepare Food Safely.
Take the same precautions that a safety-conscious restaurant would. You don’t want food poisoning in a restaurant, so why invite sickness at home?
Wash Your Hands, Fruits and Vegetables.
Wash your hands before cooking and after touching raw meat and eggs. Wash fruits and vegetables, even if you’re not going to eat the peel or rind, and remove outer leaves from leafy green vegetables before using them.
Prevent Raw Meat Contamination.
Use separate utensils, dishes and cutting boards for raw meat. If you plan on cooking with frozen raw meat, thaw it in the refrigerator or the microwave, never at room temperature.
Handle Eggs Safely.
To prevent salmonella, cook eggs thoroughly before eating. Avoid uncooked foods like cookie dough and don’t leave raw eggs at room temperature for more than two hours.
Thoroughly Cook Raw Meat.
Meat should be cooked to its recommended temperature until the juices run clear, and thawed meat should be cooked immediately. As you cook, turn the meat over at least once.
Keep It Up with Clean-Up
Proper cleaning can stop bacteria that carry food-borne illness from growing in your kitchen.
Wash the Dishes.
It’s not fun, but it must be done–and soon after you have finished cooking and eating. Pay extra close attention to dishes and cutting boards that have touched raw meat.
Put Away Leftovers.
If you plan to eat leftovers, they must be refrigerated quickly. Uneaten leftovers should be thrown away three to five days after cooking.
Clean the Kitchen.
Experts recommend that you use a cleaning solution and a dishtowel, not a sponge, for kitchen clean up because sponges have better conditions for bacteria growth. Wash your dishtowel frequently in hot, soapy water. Don’t forget to flush the garbage disposal with cleaning solution!
If you follow these guidelines, you can eat at home with confidence!
For more information:
Food Safety for your family
Food Safety Consumer Advice