Food Safety: Basics for Handling Food Safely

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Healthy eating doesn’t always necessarily mean that it has to do with the foods you choose to eat. Even foods that are sourced organically can pose health risks if they are not processed and cooked in a safe environment.

Food safety basics should include everything from food handling and cleaning to cooking, storing and serving to avoid foodborne illnesses. Learning how to store and prepare foods safely will ensure in keeping you and your family safe. Here are some of the food safety basics that redefine healthy eating.

Buying Safe Food

After you have purchased your non-perishables from the grocery store and move ahead to buy perishable goods, go for refrigerated and frozen foods and make sure that you never by any meat or poultry products that are in found in leaking and torn packages. Expiration dates, ‘Use-By’ and ‘Sell-By’ dates should also be taken into consideration which might otherwise be harmful.

Food Storage

Any perishable foods brought from the store should be refrigerated within two hours of purchase under normal temperature. If the temperature is above 90 °F, they should be refrigerated within an hour. Meat and poultry foods should be securely warp to avoid meat juices from getting onto other food products and contaminating them. Canned foods should be discarded if they are rusted, dented or swollen.

Preparation

Cross-contamination should be avoided while preparing food and the basic rule is to hand washing for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. If marinated meats and poultry is to be kept in the refrigerator, make sure that they are covered properly before getting inside the fridge. Countertops, cutting boards and utensils are prone to contamination when preparing food. So, they should all be sanitized properly before and after preparing food.

Thawing

Thawing is the process of warming frozen food so that it can be prepared and eaten. It is basically defrosting the food before cooking. While the refrigerator allows slow thawing, you should make sure that thawed food do not drip on other food items. If you are running short of time and want to thaw the food faster, place it in leak-proof plastic bags or container and keep under cold running water. You can even use microwave for the purpose. Make sure the food is immediately cooked after thawing.

Cooking Safely

Any meat product including raw beef, lamb, pork and steaks should be should be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of 63 °C before they are removed from the heat source. Likewise ground meat and poultry should be cooked at 72 °C and 74 °C respectively. To be more accurate, use a food thermometer to measure the heat and also make sure that the food rests at least for three minutes after removing from the heat source and before it is served.

Serving

It is as important to take safety precautions while serving food as it is when cleaning and preparing. While hot foods should be served at 60 °C, cold foods should be at 5 °C or even colder if possible. To make sure that hot food stays as is while serving, make use of warming trays, slow cookers and chafing dishes. If the food that is being served is perishable, it should not be left for more than two hours at room temperature.