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What You Need To Know About Food Safety

Updated on June 6, 2017

Why I'm Writing This

Just like most things in life, there are rules you need to follow while cooking to keep you safe. Most of the rules a lot of us know about, but there may be a few you did not. You may know not to store a tomato with a chicken, but do you know the safe temperature to cook that chicken or not to defrost it in a sink of water full of hot water. Most food safety is as easy as knowing not to stick your fork into an electrical outlet, once you know what not to do then you will not have anything to worry about.

I hope you enjoy reading my article, and if you have any questions or comments, please feel to leave a comment below even if it is just to say hi, I enjoy hearing from Y'all.

Healthy Groceries

Source

Why Worry About It

While the food supply here in the United States, for the most part, is safe, we have had a few scares with a different foodborne illness that have taken root in chicken, beef, vegetables, and a number of other foods. This is rare, and most foodborne illness is by handling food wrong at home or at restaurants it does happen. There are steps you can take to lessen your chances of getting sick.

The federal government estimates that there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually, this is the equivalent of 1 in 6 Americans each year. Out of these people who get sick each year resulted in an estimated 129,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

Since foodborne illness can be dangerous, or even fatal it is necessary for you to know and practice food safety to help reduce the risk of you, and your family accidentally getting sick from contaminated food.

High Risk

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Who Is At Risk

While pregnant women, young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems are the most at risk for getting sick from contaminated food.

I cannot stress enough that the fact is that everyone is at risk. It does not matter if you are vegan or a meat eater, or if you only eat organic, or grow your own food, or even if you are poor, or rich. If you mishandle your food, you have a chance of getting sick.

If you have someone in your household, or you are taken care of someone that falls into this high-risk group then you need to really watch how you are handling their food.

Listeria

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What Makes You Sick

Bacteria and viruses- Are the most common cause of foodborne illness. The severity of food illness varies, depending on which bacteria or virus has contaminated the food. The bacteria and viruses that cause the most illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths in the United States are Salmonella, Norovirus, Campylobacter, E. Coli, and Listeria.

Parasites -Are organisms that need its food, and protection from other living organisms known as hosts. In the United States, the most common foodborne parasites are roundworms and tapeworms.

Mold, Toxins, and Contaminants- While most foodborne illnesses are caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasite. There have been cases where people have gotten sick from natural toxins or chemical toxins. Natural toxins are such as those in some mushrooms, and puffer fish. Chemical toxins are from pesticides and other chemicals. While there are some foods like blue cheese that the mold is harmless in, there are some molds that can produce toxins that can cause illness.

Washing Hands

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Hand Washing The Right Way

How To: Washing Fruits and Vegetables

Step 1- Clean And Wash.

Bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants can hide on your counters, hands, and dirty dishes. As well as fruits, and veggies.

Wash your hands- The FDA recommends washing your hands in warm water with soap, and to scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. The first video to the right will show you the right way to wash your hands.

To teach kids the right way to wash their hands have them sing the ABC song while they scrub their hands, to ensure the 20 seconds has goal has been met.

When to wash your hands

  • Before eating food.
  • Before, during, and after preparing food.
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound.
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick.
  • After handling uncooked eggs, or raw meat, poultry, seafood, or their juices.
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • After touching an animal or animal waste.
  • After touching the trash.
  • After using the bathroom.

Wash counters, cutting boards, utensils, and your dishes.- to make sure that no bacteria, viruses, and other contaminate can spread to your food while you are cooking. You need to make sure that your work area is clean. You can do this by wiping down your counters with bleach water, and using your dishwasher to wash your dishes, utensils, and cutting boards. If you hand wash your dishes you can add a small amount of bleach, up to tablespoons per gallon of water to rinse your dishes in.

Wash your fruits and veggies- Even if you plan on peeling them. Fruits and vegetables have wax, as well as pesticides on them, and also you never know who might have touched them before you bought them. To see how to do this watch the second video on the right.

Check Your Steps - Clean

Separate

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Step 2 Separate.

Meat, fish, poultry, and eggs can all spread bacteria to other foods, fruits, and veggies if not kept apart. This is the biggest cause of cross-contamination and the cause of a lot of foodborne illnesses.

To prevent this, uncooked meat, fish, poultry, and eggs should never come into contact with other foods, other than for maybe while baking roasting or cooking.

Use different cutting boards, one for meat and poultry, and one for fruit and vegetables. Even if you clean your cutting boards well between cutting meat, and vegetables, the cuts made into the board by your knife may still hold on to bacteria from the raw meat you just cut, or even cut a few days ago, and can get onto any vegetable or fruit you are about to cut next on that board. The best way to make sure that this does not happen is by using a cutting board for each. When the cutting board becomes old or gets into bad shape, replace it.

Also, never place raw meat, fruit, or vegetables on the same plate or bowl, or use the same utensils when handling them.

While grocery shopping is sure to keep raw meat, and other food separate. As meat package could leak or even have bacteria on them. Most stores now have bags you can wrap your meat in before adding it to your cart. If you are able, please do so to keep any leaking that might happen from touching other food. Also, keep meat in a separate place from other food in your cart, but never above anything that it could leak on. When you check out make sure that your meat is placed in a different bag away from other food.

Keep raw meat away from other food while in the fridge. Bacteria can spread inside your fridge if the juices of raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs drip onto vegetables, fruit, and other foods and contaminate them. To fix this, store meat in a container that is air tight, or in a sealed plastic bag in a bowl, or freeze it if you are not going to be using them within a day or two. Place the now sealed raw meat items at the bottom of the fringe where they cannot drip onto any other food if they were to get knocked over. Keep eggs in their carton and do not place in the door of the fridge, as the temperature there can very. Finally, never put cooked food on the same plate or bowl that raw food is, or was on, as the juice from the raw food could spread to the cooked.

Check Your Steps - Separate

Meat With Thermometer

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Step 3 Cook

Most people think they can tell when their food is done just by looking and feeling it. While this might be correct for some people, for the rest of us you can not be sure it is unless you check the temperature of your meat and other foods. The FDA says the danger zone is between 40˚ and 140˚ Fahrenheit, this is the temperature where bacteria grows and spread the fastest, and lot of food will look done at 130˚ F. If you do not already have one, consider buying a food thermometer, I have one listed on the right that I use, unless you get a fancy one they are for the most part inexpensive.

When you think your food is done, place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food, being careful not to touch bone, fat, or gristle as this can read hotter than the food itself. Let the thermometer run for the amount of time recommended by your thermometer. When the thermometer reads the right temperature for the meat you have cooked your meat is now done. If your meat needs to rest let it do so after the cooked temperature is hit. Clean your food thermometer with hot, soapy water after each use. Keep cooked food above 140˚F by using something like a chafing dish, warming tray, or slow cooker.

Check Your Steps - Cook

When Is It Done?

Food Type
Rest
Internal temperature
Food Type
Rest
Internal temperature
 
Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb
3 min rest
145F
Ham
none
160F
 
Turkey, Chicken
none
165F
Eggs
none
Cook until yolk & white are firm
 
Duck & Goose
none
165F
Fish
none
145F
 
Leftovers & Casseroles
none
165F
Shrimp, Lobster & Crabs
none
Flesh pearly & opaque
 
Scallops
none
Milky white or opaque & firm
Clams, Oysters & Mussels
None
Shells open during cooking
 
I

Chill

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Step 4 Chill

It is very necessary for you to chill your foods as soon as you are done eating or as soon as you get home from the store. It can take 2 hours or less for food to go bad if not put in the refrigerator right away. Just by placing your leftovers, or new food in the fridge as soon as you can, you take a huge step to keeping you and your family from getting sick. Your fridge should be between 40 ˚F and 32 ˚F, and your freezer should be 0 ˚F or below. Do not over pack your fringe, or your freezer as air needs to able to move around to chill the food right. Never thaw food on the counter, or in a sink of hot water. To thaw your meat do so in the refrigerator, or in the sink with cold water making sure to change your water every 30 minutes or in the microwave.

Last Thing here is when in doubt toss it out. If you think your food might be bad do not taste it, just toss it out to be on the safe side. Also, the food has gone bad if it has a bad smell, mold, a slimy feel, or is off colored. For fruit and vegetables, the same applies but, also if they feel too soft, or bruised, or very limp toss them out. Never taste anything that you think might be bad as this is how people get sick.

If you follow these rules when it comes to food, you will keep you, your family and loved ones safe. I hope you enjoyed reading this. Please feel free to share and comment below.

Check Your Steps - Chill

Test Your Food Safety Knowledge


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    • Down South Mama profile image
      Author

      Brenda 4 years ago from Florida

      I'm glad you like it, and learned something new bzirkone. I do have plans to write more on this topic at a later time.

    • bzirkone profile image

      bzirkone 4 years ago from Kansas

      This is your first? Nice job! I learned a couple of new food safety tips. I think you have tons of information in this hub and could easily break it into a couple of different, shorter hubs. Either way it's a great start.

    • Down South Mama profile image
      Author

      Brenda 4 years ago from Florida

      AMAZING THINKER Thanks for the tip I used a layout chosen by hubpages, because I was not for sure on a good layout. I did think it looked cluttered and kind of crazy also, but the layout kept talking about how big pics where important so I was not sure if I should change it. I made most of the pics small and I think it looks better now. Thanks for the advise.

      Abdul Sattar Amin thanks for stopping by. I look forward to reading your first hub or two soon

    • AMAZING THINKER profile image

      AMAZING THINKER 4 years ago from Home

      Good job!

      A little tip--Inserting large photos can distract your readers, stick with the smaller ones, use large photos when appropriate.

    • profile image

      Black List 4 years ago

      Good Job really nice hub.

      And I am also new here so welcome.

    • Down South Mama profile image
      Author

      Brenda 4 years ago from Florida

      Thanks Deanna-Balestra I took your advise and dropped my box down, and added the boarder. I would have never of noticed the border thing with out you telling me.

      sunilkunnoth2012 Thanks for the encouragement, I'm glad I'm doing well for " fresher" :)

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 4 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      You have good potentiality to grow further. It is really amazing a fresher doing this level of handsome work. Congrats! Keep on writing more.

    • Deanna-Balestra profile image

      Deanna Balestra 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I think it looks great! Good job!

      I would add borders to the photos (when you upload the photos there is a tiny drop down box in the top right corner, easy to miss, that lets you add a white drop shadow-ish border to your pictures.

      Also someone just gave me this tip yesterday - in your first top section if you don't put a second box floated to the right then Hubpages will put an ad there and the ad in that spot is usually a good performer!

      Good topic and well thought out and lots of info provided!