Today is World Health Day, and WHO has dedicated this day to the issue of food safety. Under the slogan “From farm to plate, make food safe” WHO aims to highlight the threats and opportunities associated with food safety.
With globalization, production & distribution of food has become a quick process. This has it’s pros and cons: it might be a boon to many, especially those in developing and under-developed countries, but this also possess a great threat to the lives of many. It takes minutes for a local food problem to become an epidemic, and then an international emergency. Unsafe food can cause diseases ranging from diarrhoea to cancer.
Efforts to prevent such cases can be strengthened, however, through development of food safety systems that prevent contamination of food. You too as an individual should be aware of a few basic ways to prevent contamination of food. It is important for consumers to think about food safety at each step, from shopping right up till cooking. The following are general rules for handling food safely in your kitchen:
Wash your food the right way to prevent these bacteria from spreading to your food. What is the right way?
Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
Wash kitchen towels often in the hot-cycle of your washing machine; avoid sponges or put them in the dishwasher daily to kill bacteria.
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 item.
To kill bacteria, sanitize food-contact surfaces and cooking utensils with a solution of 1-3 tablespoons of household chlorine bleach per gallon of water.
Wash produce under running tap water, but not meat, poultry or eggs.
Bacteria can spread when raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs come in contact with ready-to-eat foods like bread and vegetables. Make sure you keep them separate.
Cut vegetables or salad ingredients first, then raw meat and poultry.
When handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, always use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils from ready-to-eat foods.
Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.
Keep raw meat, poultry, eggs and seafood and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
Do not use a sponge to soak up meat and poultry juices. Use disposable paper towels.
Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that causes food poisoning. How do you know that your food is cooked? Here is a little help-
Use a food thermometer if possible
Thaw food in the refrigerator or microwave, not on the kitchen counter; marinate in the refrigerator.
Use a heat source like a chafing dish, warming tray or slow cooker to keep food from cooling. Don’t let it fall below 60°C
Reheat leftovers thoroughly to 75°C
Cook ground beef, including meatloaf, to at least 70°C.
Cook fish until it is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm.
Refrigerate promptly and properly to reduce your risk of food poisoning. How long can foods remain unrefrigerated?
Perishable foods must be refrigerated at or below 4°C within two hours
Never thaw or marinate foods on the counter.
Freeze fresh meat, poultry or fish immediately if you can’t use it within a few days
Put packages of raw meat, poultry or fish in a shallow pan before refrigerating so their juices won’t drip onto other food.
Toss expired foods.
Stay healthy folks!