“Each year, one in six Americans get sick from contaminated food or beverages. Salmonella, a bacteria that commonly causes food born illnesses, results in more hospitalizations and deaths than any other bacteria in food”- CDC (Center of Disease Control and Prevention)
Knowing and practicing food safety is a key in preventing this from happening. In this lesson we’ll discuss some important points on food safety.
- Washing Hands
- Cooking and Storing Food
We may forget at times the simple procedure of washing hands before we begin to cook. However, it is an important thing to do. By not washing your hands, you may be contaminating the very food you’re preparing.
This is how it goes: We wet our hands with warm water, add liquid soap, scrub (be sure to get b/w those fingers), rinse and dry using a paper towel. While you wash say the ABC’s or sing the happy birthday song twice, doing that you’ll have spent a proper time ridding your hands of any bacteria and dirt.
- Cross Contamination
- Cross Contamination means when bacteria from one thing is transferred to another object. Ex/ Cutting lettuce with the same knife you used to cut meat with (without washing/sanitizing the knife)
- To prevent this it’s important to keep meat/poultry away from ready to eat foods!
Always properly wash/sanitize utensils, cutting boards, and any surface area where raw food was just handled to avoid cross- contamination.
On the topic of raw food/meats it’s also important to know where to store your meats in the fridge. Remember to have the raw food in a sealed container and be sure to put it on the bottom shelf. Why on the bottom? Having a raw chicken on the top shelf and have it accidently leak will contaminate everything below it. Having it on the bottom and accidently leak won’t drip on anything else.
- Cooking and Storing Foods
You come to the kitchen and smell that pork you’re roasting in the oven. Only problem is you don’t know if it’s fully cooked through. How do you tell? Instead of crossing your fingers or over-cooking it, try using a thermometer. A good thing to note is when using a thermometer- place it in the thickest part of the food for an accurate reading.
Food. . Minimum Internal Temp
Ground Beef, pork, lamb, or veal. . . 160F
Beef, pork, lamb, steak, chops. . . 145F
Poultry (turkey/chicken) whole or pieces. . . 165F
Seafood. . . 145F
Whenever you have any meat/poultry/seafood, be sure to store them in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as you get home from the grocery store. If it’s left at room temperature, the bacteria will want to thrive in it. We’ll discuss this in just a moment.
- Briefly I mentioned room temperature being a danger area because of bacteria. You never want to leave any raw foods sitting out or thaw them at room temp because bacteria thrive in temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit; this is what’s known as the Danger Zone. Keeping foods out of this zone will keep them safe to eat.
If you have any leftovers in the freezer, you’ll have to know how to thaw it properly. There are three main ways to defrost food:
- Cold Water
Here are the things to remember:
- Whenever you’re starting or switching a task, be sure to wash your hands properly.
- To avoid cross contamination it’s important to clean utensils/surface area before preparing other foods. Keep Raw away from ready to eat foods.
- Use a thermometer to check if the food is cooked all the way through.
- Watch how you store, cook, or thaw foods.
You might be thinking that working with food is less simple than you thought. Some of the things we’ve talked about are habit to a lot of people, it all starts by learning what and what not to do. Whether you’re a chef by occupation or just within your kitchen, practicing food safety is important. We learn food safety because it keep us and those we serve safe.