THE CORE FOUR PRACTICES OF FOOD SAFETY
Staying healthy is always important. This is especially true right now during the Covid-19 pandemic. We want you to stay home as much as possible and staying food-safe can help you with that! When you are food-safe, you can avoid becoming sick with foodborne illness (or food poisoning) that may cause you to visit your doctor’s office or the emergency room. Being food-safe includes these four steps:
Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, cutting boards, utensils, countertops, and food. To eliminate these dangerous bacteria, it is always good to wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20-seconds before and after handling food. Remember to wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item, as well!
Cross-contamination is one way bacteria can spread. Improper handling of raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can create an inviting environment for harmful bacteria to grow and spread throughout the rest of the food. This eventually leads to foodborne illness. One tip on reducing cross-contamination is to separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods in the grocery cart, grocery bags, and in the fridge! Uncooked meats should always go on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator in case they start to leak. You can also place raw meats on a tray or plate to collect drippings. This will prevent the meat from dripping onto foods that do not require cooking, like fruits and vegetables!
Cook to a safe internal temperature. Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. A food thermometer is a great tool that indicates when food is fully cooked and safe for you to eat!
Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures will slow down the growth of harmful bacteria. Do not over-stuff the refrigerator. Cold air must be able to circulate to help keep food at 40°F or below. Keeping your fridge at this temperature is the most effective way to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.