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Food Safety in your own kitchen

Updated on February 28, 2015

Food Safety is About Protecting Yourself and Your Family

The truth is that we get sick from our cooking more than often we think. Most times that we have upset stomachs, soft stools and have nausea it is caused by how we store, prepare, cook, cool and dispose of our foods at home. We are always quick to blame the restaurants we visit (and some may be to blame), but most times the blame should be on us.

Here are some of the most common reasons that our low food safety levels at home can make us sick:

  • -under cooked meats (did not reach optimum temperature)
  • -cross contaminated meals (i.e blood from meat transferred to fresh vegetables via a knife)
  • -improper use, cleaning or storage of cutting boards
  • -old or porous cutting boards
  • -cooling too fast (not allowing the center to cool before edges lock in heat)
  • -cooling too slow (allowing bacteria time to flourish in optimum temperatures)
  • -failing to refrigerate properly (meats and starches especially)
  • -improper reheating of meals or appetizers

Contaminated Food OUTFOX Prevention
Contaminated Food OUTFOX Prevention

How Many Get Sick Every Year From Contaminated Food?

Foodborne illnesses are more common than you think!

Each year, 48 million people in the U.S. get sick from contaminated food. Common culprits include bacteria, parasites and viruses. Symptoms range from mild to serious. They include

-Upset stomach

-Abdominal cramps

-Nausea and vomiting

-Diarrhea

-Fever

-Dehydration

Harmful bacteria are the most common cause of foodborne illness. Foods may have some bacteria on them when you buy them. Raw meat may become contaminated during slaughter. Fruits and vegetables may become contaminated when they are growing or when they are processed. But it can also happen in your kitchen if you leave food out for more than 2 hours at room temperature.

The treatment in most cases is increasing your fluid intake. For more serious illness, you may need treatment at a hospital.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Food Safety Hygiene Fail OUTFOX Prevention
Food Safety Hygiene Fail OUTFOX Prevention

How to Protect Your Family From Illness During Food Preparation

Follow the 4 Core Practices!

Safe Food Handling (From Fight Bac!)

The Core Four Practices

Right now, there may be an invisible enemy ready to strike. He's called BAC (bacteria) and he can make people sick. In fact, even though consumers can't see BAC - or smell him, or feel him - he and millions more like him may already be invading food products, kitchen surfaces, knives and other utensils.

But consumers have the power to Fight BAC!® and to keep food safe from harmful bacteria. It's as easy as following these four simple steps:

-CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often

-SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate!

-COOK: Cook to proper temperature

-CHILL: Refrigerate promptly

Clean: Wash Hands and Surfaces Often

Bacteria can be spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, cutting boards, utensils, counter tops and food. To Fight BAC!® always:

-Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers and handling pets.

-Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.

-Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten.

-Rub firm-skin fruits and vegetables under running tap water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water.

Separate: Don't Cross-Contaminate!

Cross-contamination is how bacteria can be spread. When handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods. Always start with a clean scene -- wash hands with warm water and soap. Wash cutting boards, dishes, countertops and utensils with hot soapy water.

-Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags and in your refrigerator.

-Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood.

-Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.

Cook: Cook to Proper Temperatures

Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Use a food thermometer to to measure the internal temperature of cooked foods. Refer to the Heat It Up chart for the safe internal temperatures. The best way to Fight BAC!® is to:

-Use a food thermometer which measures the internal temperature of cooked meat, poultry and egg dishes, to make sure that the food is cooked to a safe internal temperature.

-Cook roasts and steaks to a minimum of 145°F. All poultry should reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast with a food thermometer.

-Cook ground meat, where bacteria can spread during grinding, to at least 160°F. Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) links eating undercooked ground beef with a higher risk of illness. Remember, color is not a reliable indicator of doneness Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your burgers.

-Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm, not runny. Don't use recipes in which eggs remain raw or only partially cooked.

-Cook fish to 145°F or until the flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.

-Make sure there are no cold spots in food (where bacteria can survive) when cooking in a microwave oven. For best results, cover food, stir and rotate for even cooking. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking.

-Bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil when reheating. Heat other leftovers thoroughly to 165°F.

Chill: Refrigerate Promptly!

Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Do not over-stuff the refrigerator. Cold air must circulate to help keep food safe. Keeping a constant refrigerator temperature of 40°F or below is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Use an appliance thermometer to be sure the temperature is consistently 40°F or below. The freezer temperature should be 0°F or below.

-Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs and other perishables as soon as you get them home from the store.

-Never let raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food or cut fresh fruits or vegetables sit at room temperature more than two hours before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer (one hour when the temperature is above 90°F).

-Never defrost food at room temperature. Food must be kept at a safe temperature during thawing. There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.

-Always marinate food in the refrigerator.

-Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.

-Use or discard refrigerated food on a regular basis. Check the Cold Storage Chart for optimum storage times.

(Sourced from the www.fightbac.org website)

Hand Washing Debate... Vote: Do you feel secure with hand sanitizer?

Hand washing and hand sanitizer OUTFOX Prevention
Hand washing and hand sanitizer OUTFOX Prevention

There has always been a running debate between hand washing and hand sanitizers... Does soap and water always trump the alcohol and non alcohol sanitizer rubs on the market? Recently as the CDC and other entities have recognized hand sanitizers more, we've seen an increased number of people that are washing less and sanitizing more.

Germs are everywhere which facilitates people carrying sanitizing gels and sanitizing sprays around with them, but should you be getting to a sink with hot water and soap more often then you currently do? You tell us. We just know that living according to effective infection control principles and maintaining high hygiene standards is important!

Vote: Do you feel secure with hand sanitizer?

See results

Food Borne Illness Information on Amazon

Food Safety Danger Zone for Infection
Food Safety Danger Zone for Infection

Food Poisoning During the Holidays

We're talking ANY holiday...

The holidays are almost always filled with sharing treats, parties and other events centered on food.  They are also a time when cases for foodborne illness increase.  In early 2003, I witnessed more than 50% of the workforce of a previous employer become ill after a company potluck. The culprit: an under-cooked homemade Chinese Food Dish.  Infection control principles for food safety can save you and your company a lot of suffering. 

 

It is still not clear why potlucks are allowed by companies anymore with such a high number of illnesses reported.  So many things can go wrong when many people are cooking for a large group, transporting and reheating food.  It may sound cliché, but I would be a rich man if I had a dime for the amount of times I have seen or heard of someone getting food poisoning from a potluck.

 

The chances are daunting with:

                -Undercooked meats

                -Improperly cooled and stored meats and other volatile foods (potatoes, rice, etc.)

                -Reheated or precooked dishes prepared inadequately

                -Volatile foods left out too long (3-4 hour window in high temperatures)

                -Low hygiene standards for cleaning

                -Low hygiene standards for cooking

                -Many more factors

 

Here are some interesting foodborne illness facts (as quoted from a document compiled by Ecolab Inc.):

 

-The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year.

 

-Foodborne illness costs the U.S. economy between $5 billion and $22 billion each year in lost productivity, hospitalization, long-term disability and even death.

 

-The CDC lists four sources of foodborne illness: disease-causing bacteria, viruses, parasites and toxins.  A few of these are very common and account for the majority of reported illness cases.

 

-While the likelihood of serious complications is unknown, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that approximately 2 to 3 percent of all foodborne illness cases lead to secondary long-term illnesses.

 

In order to limit the number of foodborne illnesses that occur at your family, friend or work parties, the following is suggested in terms of the food that is served:

               

                -Avoid potlucks if possible

                                -Have the host prepare volatile foods (volatile foods are those that need to be cooked, cooled, stored and reheated)

                                -Have guests chip in money for the host rather than bring food

                -Assign out food items that don't need to be cooked, reheated, etc.

                -Plan a party with just simple snacks rather than full meals

                -Address double-dipping issues upfront.  Make it light and funny but get the point across

                -If a potluck is necessary, be more selective about who is assigned to bring potentially volatile foods

               

We hope that everyone will enjoy a happy AND healthy holiday season!  Get into an OUTFOX Mindset today.  Let us know if we can help you or your organization OUTFOX infection to avoid illness and disease.

YouTube - Double Dipping can be a great party crasher... Especially when it spreads an illness.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      i ate a roti once from a fast food place and got food poisoning