It’s a given fact that food safety is a worldwide issue. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), estimates that one out of six Americans, about 48 million, will get sick from foodborne illness, 128,000 will be hospitalized, and 3,000 will die. These estimates are incredibly large amount, and this is a completely preventable issue. Basic techniques such as cleaning, separating, cooking, and chilling, will help you on a daily basis in order to prevent foodborne illnesses in your home.
- Cleaning: It’s very important to be clean and tidy when you’re going to prepare a meal for yourself or a bigger crowd. This includes having clean clothing, always washing your hands during preparation. Before consumption of the meal, keep your hair tidy, and no smoking, sneezing, or coughing around the food. This also includes the products used to clean the plates, utensils and the surfaces used to prepare, which need to be safe and non-toxic.
- Separation: Use gloves or special utensils in order to prevent direct contact with the food. Cross contamination is very important to avoid, and this can be taken care of during preparation and in storage. For example, you wont use the same spoon for moving the rice and the meat; you’ll have two separate utensils for each food. As for storage, separate raw foods from the ready to eat foods like fruits and vegetables. Maintain clean surfaces and use separate cutting boards for the raw meats and the fruits and vegetables.
- Cooking: Also known as temperature control, this a very important step because foods need to reach a certain temperature in order to be edible. The temperature for cold foods is <41ºF, and for hot foods it’s >140ºF. Stay out of the danger zone of 41-140ºF, which is a range of temperature where bacteria is bound to multiply at a faster rate. Meat cooking temperature ranges between 145-165ºF.
- Chill: When you chill foods properly you preserve them better. For example, bacteria can grow significantly if not chilled within two hours, making foodborne illness more probable to happen.
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