Basic Steps to Food Safety
The CDC estimates that one in six Americans becomes ill from the food they have consumed, on a yearly basis. Secondly, from the 28 million people who become sick yearly, about 3000 people die.These numbers might sound surprising, and most people recover just fine, but the most vulnerable populations are; babies,toddlers and young children, pregnant women and the elderly. Therefore, it makes sense to undertake any precaution to avoid food borne illnesses. Luckily,these guidelines are easy to follow.
1.Hand washing. Hand washing before and after cooking is extremely important to cut down on food borne diseases. Before handling food: wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Don’t forget to pay attention to the nails, wrists and between fingers. Always wash hands before and after handling raw meats, poultry or fish.
2.Avoid cross contamination between raw meats, fish, poultry,fruits and vegetables by using different colored cutting boards. For example use a red cutting board for raw meats and a white or green cutting board for raw fruits or vegetables. Afterwards: wash a cutting board with warm water and soap or consider washing it in the dishwasher.
3.Cook to proper temperatures. Use a food thermometer to make sure you cook to the correct temperature. The food thermometer needs to be washed after each use as well.
Product Minimum Internal Cooking Temperature
Seafood 145 degrees Fahrenheit
Shell Eggs 145 degrees Fahrenheit
Pork, beef, veal, lamb 145 degrees Fahrenheit
Ground meat 160 degrees Fahrenheit
Stuffing 165 degrees Fahrenheit
Stuffed meat, fish, poultry, pasta 165 degrees Fahrenheit
Poultry 165 degrees Fahrenheit
4.Refrigerate promptly. The refrigerator needs to be kept at a constant temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower and the freezer at a temperature of 0 degrees or lower. Consider adding a thermometer to the fridge and or freezer to keep track.
When food is cut or prepared, such as raw meats, dairy products, cut fruits and vegetables, and has been out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours it is unsafe to eat. However, prepared foods are unsafe to eat after only 1 hour if outside temperatures are warmer than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Defrost frozen foods in the fridge or in the microwave, never on the kitchen counter.
For more information:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov/Features/dsFoodborneEstimates/, retrieved 4.8.2013
http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html, retrieved 4.8.2013