Food Safety Guidelines in Our Home
This hub, Food Safety Guidelines at Home, is my way of evaluating how I have put into practice what I learned in Food Science. I graduated with a degree of BS Food Technology 14 years ago. I only worked for 4 years then got married. Since then, I became a stay at home mom. Did that mean my education was not put into good use? Not at all. The fact is, my basic knowledge in food handling helps me everyday to provide safe food for my family.
There are many incidence of food-borne illnesses like gastroenteritis, diarrhea, stomach cramps, dehydration that happen all the time. We are not just aware of this but may have also fallen victim to this on one time or another. From a Food Technologist's standpoint, I would like to share 5 Food Safety Guidelines that are necessary if we want to provide safe food for our families. As a mom, I have consciously observed these at home to protect my family from food-related sicknesses.
Don't Get Sick - Follow the Food Safety Guidelines
Before you go on reading this hub, I hope you would watch the animated music video above. It is an entertaining way of learning a thing or two about food safety.
5 Food Safety Guidelines
Here are the 8 Food Safety Guidelines I want to share with everyone.
1. Wash. Wash. Wash. I cannot overemphasize the importance of washing to maintain cleanliness and prevent the spread of bacteria. Hands should be washed often throughout meal preparation – especially after handling raw meats and eggs.
Proper hand washing means washing for at least 20 seconds using warm water and soap. It's important to use soap to get rid of bacteria and not just visible dirt. It is important also to wash clean all kitchen utensils and surfaces.
Raw foods like fruits and vegetables should also be washed thoroughly. Leafy greens should be washed by soaking them in a large bowl of water and not running water. Debris from root crops like potatoes should be completely removed or better to eat them without skin.
2. Separate, Do Not Contaminate. Keep raw foods away from cooked foods or ready-to-eat foods. This helps reduce the risk of cross-contamination or spread of harmful germs.
When preparing vegetables and meats, it is wise to use two cutting boards - one for chopping ready-to-eat foods like vegetables for salads and another for raw foods like meat. This is to prevent the juices from raw meats to accidentally touch ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables, which causes cross-contamination. If using only one cutting board, then wash it with warm soapy water thoroughly in between the chopping of vegetables and meats.
3. Cook food thoroughly. Adequate cooking kills the bacteria present in the food. To do this, we must make sure that foods reach its minimum safe internal temperature. This is different for various types of food as shown in the picture below. To be sure, a food thermometer can be inserted into the center of the food especially when cooking those thick meat and poultry.
In relation to this, it is thus better to eat a steak that is well done than medium rare; eggs that are not raw or runny; cheese that is not unpasteurized. As Thermy says "It's safe to bite when the temperature is right."
4. Keep foods out of the danger zone. The danger zone is the temperature between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or 4 to 60 degrees Celsius [C]). Harmful bacteria love the danger zone because it gives them the optimum condition for growth, so they multiply really fast.To avoid foods from being exposed to the danger zone, it should be thawed properly and stored properly.
There are 3 ways of properly thawing food to prevent the food from staying in the danger zone. One is by thawing the food under cold running water; two is by thawing it in the refrigerator; and three is by thawing it as part of the cooking process. and chilling.
Cooked foods should be kept at proper temperature. Remember to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. If it will not be consumed right away, it is advisable to allow the hot food to cool in a shallow container for 2 hours, then quickly chill it inside the refrigerator. Be sure that the refrigerator is set at below 40 degrees F.
If the food will be in waiting to be served, food warmers should be
used to keep the food hot. Cold foods like salads should
be kept cold using ice baths or just take it out of the fridge right before
5. When in doubt, throw it out. Leftover food immediately kept in the refrigerator can still be eaten after reheating it to 1650F. Or if reheated using the microwave, it should be steaming hot. However, it should be noted that refrigeration does not stop bacteria from growing. It just slows them down. So, there would come a time when the food will be unsafe to eat.
Cooked meat or poultry and leftover pizza is safe for 3 to 4 days, while luncheon meats and egg, tuna, and macaroni salads are safe for up to 3 to 5 days, if the leftovers were refrigerated promptly. Foods stored longer may begin to spoil or become unsafe to eat. A safe rule to remember is "When in doubt, throw it out." Never taste to see if it is spoiled.
It is wise also to read food labels for product dating. Look out for the Use-by dates, which can also be written as “use before,” “best if used by,” or “best if used before.” These dates display how long the food should remain at its best flavor or quality. Do not consume food items that have passed their use-by dates. Again, if no dating is available, "When in doubt, throw it out."
More Free Resources on Food Safety Guidelines
- Ten Steps to a Safe Kitchen | Food Safety
10 steps for consumers to take in their home to prevent foodborne illness.
- Kitchen Companion: Your Safe Food Handbook
Comprehensive reference on safe food handling for consumers. Read it online or download a free PDF.
- Food Safety Education
This is a page of helpful resources available to users of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Web site.