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Preventing Food Borne Illness at Home

Updated on September 18, 2012
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Cooking is something done just about every day of the week in every home kitchen. Cooking nourishes us and when a recipe comes out just the way you want it to, can be very pleasurable for both the home chef and the person eating the food.

But when food isn't handled or prepared properly, illness can occur as the result of food borne illnesses. Here are some guidelines and tips for proper sanitation at home.

Handle Food Properly

There are many ways to avoid a food related illness by simply handling food properly. Most of these are basic reminders of what we should be doing in our everyday cooking.

  • Once a hot food is prepared, cool it down properly. For example when making a stock or a soup for later use, transfer to a container sitting in an ice bath for rapid cooling, stirring frequently until the liquid has cooled. If necessary pour into a container with a seal-able lid, label, and place in the refrigerator.
  • Hot foods need to be kept hot and cold foods need to be kept cold. The use of a kitchen thermometer is always a good idea. The temperature range to avoid is the little area between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F. That zone is commonly referred to as the 'danger zone' as that is where food bacteria likes to multiply.
  • Keep the separate ingredients in a recipe separate, and handle raw food properly. The use of different cutting boards will assist you in this. Using a cutting board solely for chicken and poultry for example will help you remember to prepare raw ingredients separately. Never cut fresh fruits and vegetables or any other foods that will be served raw on the same cutting board raw poultry and meats have been prepared.
  • Wash your hands and wash up after yourself frequently, and clean up as you work. Washing hands will clean off any germs and prevent germs from spreading, and will keep the kitchen in order as well.
  • Check the dates on food products. Just about everything has a 'best by', 'use by', or other expiration dates that should be read and followed.
  • And while aprons are convenient and prevent food from spotting our clothing, an apron should not be used as a substitute for a kitchen towel. Get out of the habit of drying your hands or wiping your hands on the front or corner of your apron, and use a kitchen towel or paper towels instead.
  • And while cleaning up after yourself is always a good thing, be careful about using chemical cleaners around food items.

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