Food Safety – Top Tips
Keep hot foods hot!
If a food is cooked and put out to serve, make sure that you keep the food hot if it is not going to be eaten right away. If you are going to cool the food in the refrigerator, be sure to cool it quickly in a shallow container. Perishable food should never be kept at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F for more than 2 hours. Bacteria can grow well at these temperatures and may grow to levels that could cause illness.
Keep cold foods cold!
Cold salads, lunchmeats, dairy products and other foods that require refrigeration should always be kept cold (below 40°F). If they are allowed to warm up, bacteria may be able to grow to dangerous levels.
Always wash your hands!
Our hands naturally carry bacteria on them. If we transfer these bacteria to food, they grow! Foods also contain a certain amount of bacteria on them as well, especially raw foods. It is important not to let the bacteria from raw foods stay on your hands where you may transfer them to your mouth or other foods. Wash your hands before preparing food.
Do not Cross Contaminate!
Meat and poultry should be cooked thoroughly to kill the harmful bacteria that may be on them. It is very important to make sure that you don’t allow the juices associated with raw meat and poultry to contaminate other areas of your kitchen. Never place cooked foods or salads below the shelf containing raw foods like meat.
Thaw foods safely!
Frozen raw meat and poultry should never be thawed by leaving them on the counter at room temperature. The proper way to thaw such products is to either thaw them in the refrigerator or thaw them in a microwave oven. Defrost food thoroughly before re-heating.
Wash fresh fruit and vegetables thoroughly!
Because fresh fruits and vegetable are grown outside, they may come in contact with a wide range of bacteria which may be harmful. Therefore always wash fresh fruit and vegetables thoroughly under running water before consumption.
Keep eggs refrigerated and never eat raw eggs!
Eggs may contain the bacteria Salmonella in their yolks, so it is important never to leave eggs at room temperature so as to prevent the Salmonella from multiplying. Always make sure that you cook your eggs thoroughly before eating them (this means no runny yellow yolks, and it also means not eating any cookie or cake batters made with raw eggs!)
Cook ground beef thoroughly!
Some highly poisonous bacteria (E.coli) may be present in raw ground meat. Therefore it is important that hamburgers and other ground meat products be cooked thoroughly. Ground beef must reach an internal temperature of 160°F in order to ensure that the bacteria have been killed.
When in doubt throw it out!
Never taste food, which you think, may be spoiled. If you are uncertain as to whether or not a food is still safe to eat, do not eat it. Even reheating foods cannot destroy the toxins of some bacteria if a food has been handled incorrectly. Never eat canned food if the can is bulging or looks like it has had a leak.
Preparing food in advance
Do not prepare food too far in advance. Bacteria multiply best when cooked food cools gradually on the table. If you have to prepare food in advance, store it in the fridge or freezer.
Help prevent the spread of infection
Clean and disinfect work surfaces, chopping boards, dish cloths etc., with an appropriate surface cleaner.