To ensure that you keep your home safe from foodborne illnesses, you should be familiar with cleaning your kitchen and other areas. Some of these include avoiding pesticide residue, keeping raw foods away from other foods, and even handwashing.
Food is never 100 percent safe. Numerous microorganisms that cause a wide range of foodborne illnesses, as well as algal and fungal toxins that can be acutely hazardous but also have long-term consequences like teratogenic, immunotoxic, nephrotoxic, and estrogenic effects, pose a threat to food safety.
Our exposure to hazardous metals like lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic has increased significantly due to industrial activity throughout the past century and beyond; these metals are now found across the entire food chain and demonstrate a variety of toxicities.
Additionally, industrial operations generated chemicals that, despite being long since outlawed, continue to exist in the environment and pollute our food.
Food Safety in 4 Easy Steps
Clean: Wash your Hands, your Dishes, and your Surfaces.
For example, germs that might make you sick in the kitchen can frequently live on your food, hands, utensils, cutting boards, and counters.
- Wash your hands properly by scrubbing the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails for at least 20 seconds while using normal soap and water; avoid using antibacterial soap. Chant “Happy Birthday” twice, starting to end. Require a timer?
- Dry hands with a fresh towel after rinsing them.
Frequently wash your hands, especially during these times when germs are most likely to spread:
- Before, during, and after meal preparation
- After coming in contact with undercooked eggs, their fluids, or raw meat, poultry, or seafood
- Before eating
- Following a bathroom visit
- After performing diaper changes or tidying up a youngster who has urinated
- After coming into contact with animal manure or animal feed
- After handling trash
- Both before and after providing for a sick person
- Before and after a cut or wound has been treated
- After sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose
- After handling pet treats or food.
Cleaning Utensils and Surfaces After Each Usage
When handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs, cutting boards, plates, utensils, and surfaces should be well-cleaned with hot, soapy water.
Use your washing machine’s hot cycle to wash dishcloths often.
Fruits and Vegetables should only be Washed, Not Meat, Poultry, or Eggs:
- Fruits and vegetables should be rinsed under running water without using soap, bleach, or specialized produce cleaners.
- Before peeling, removing the skin, or chopping away any blemished or bruised parts from fruits and vegetables, rinse them thoroughly.
- Use a fresh produce brush to scrub solid fruits and vegetables like melons and cucumbers.
- Utilize a paper towel or a fresh towel to dry fruit.
- If you want to keep hazardous bacteria from spreading throughout your kitchen, don’t wash meat, poultry, eggs, or shellfish.
- Pre-washed produce does not require additional washing.
Don’t Cross-Contaminate: Separate
- Use different cutting boards and plates for produce, meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs: Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry, or seafood and another for fresh produce that won’t be cooked before consumption. When they become worn, replace them.
- For raw and cooked foods, use different plates and utensils.
- Plates, utensils, and cutting boards that come into contact with raw meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs, or flour should be thoroughly cleaned with hot, soapy water.
Separate Particular Food Types:
- Place packages of raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs in plastic bags, if available, and separate them from other groceries in your shopping basket. Put raw meat, poultry, and shellfish in different bags from other groceries when you check out.
- Put raw meat, poultry, and seafood in containers or airtight plastic bags at home. If you don’t use them within a few days, freeze them.
- Eggs should be kept in their original carton and placed on the main shelf of the refrigerator, not the door.
The Proper Temperature for Cooking
- Food is properly prepared when the interior temperature is high enough to eradicate pathogenic microorganisms:
- To ensure that your food is safe, use a food thermometer. Place the food thermometer in the thickest portion of the food when you believe it to be done, being careful not to touch any bone, fat, or gristle.
- To ensure that your meal has reached a safe temperature, consult our chart of minimum cooking temperatures.
After Cooking, Keep Food Hot (140°F or higher):
- If you’re not serving the meal right away after preparing it, keep it warm using a slow cooker, warming tray, or chafing dish to keep it out of the 40°F to 140°F danger zone where bacteria thrive quickly.
(165°F or higher) Thoroughly Microwave the Meal
- To ensure that food is cooked through, read and carefully follow the cooking instructions on the package.
- As colder places absorb heat from hotter areas, allowing microwaved food to sit for a few minutes allows food to cook properly. If the food label advises, “Let stand for x minutes after cooking,” follow the instructions.
- In the middle of the heating, stir the food. Commercially prepared frozen food should be heated according to the instructions on the package; some are not meant to be stirred.
Properly Chill, Refrigerate, and Freeze Food
Within two hours, refrigerate perishable foods:
- Between 40°F and 140°F, food poisoning-causing bacteria multiply most quickly.
- Set your freezer to 0°F or lower and your refrigerator to 40°F or less. To be certain, use an appliance thermometer.
- Foods that need refrigeration should never be left out for longer than two hours.
- Refrigerate the food within an hour if it is exposed to temperatures above 90°F (such as in a hot car or at a picnic in the summer).
- Leftovers should be stored in shallow containers and refrigerated for quick cooling.
- Never defrost food on the counter or marinate it. The refrigerator is the safest place to defrost or marinate meat, poultry, and seafood.
- While freezing does not sterilize food, it does keep it safe until cooking.
- Consult our chart of “Safe Storage Times” to determine when to discard food. Before hazardous bacteria develop, make sure to discard any food.
Additional Guidelines to Maintain Food Safety
1. Maintain a 4-degree Celsius inside temperature for the refrigerator. Most pathogenic bacteria that could be present in food are supposed to be prevented from growing at this temperature.
2. Quickly cool down food to 4 degrees Celsius after cooking or eating it. Food shouldn’t be left out of the fridge for an hour. Within two hours of cooking, food should be cooled down to the refrigerator’s temperature using various methods, such as submerging it in a container of cold water.
3. Disposable paper towels are advised for usage in the kitchen. Non-disposable tea towels should be washed frequently if they are being used. Cleaning towels that have come into contact with food-contact surfaces may get contaminated with bacteria, some of which are dangerous bacteria that spread disease.
4. After each usage, cutting boards that touch raw meat, fish, or poultry should be cleaned with hot soapy water. The cutting board needs to be scrubbed with dishwashing solutions using a scrubber sponge or brush, thoroughly washed with hot water, and dried by air. Regular replacements should be made for the scrubbing sponge. These precautions are being taken to stop the growth of bacteria on the cutting board. When cutting cooked meat, do not use the same board.
5. Raw food should be completely cooked, especially red meat, poultry, and fish. Food preparation, including meat cooking, must reach a minimum internal temperature of 72 degrees Celsius. Cooked meat products change color as a result of the cooking process. To measure the temperature at the center of the meal and ensure thorough cooking, it is advised to use a special kitchen thermometer with a particular thermometer probe for checking food. Never use a glass-based mercury thermometer.
Salmonella enterica germs may be present in foods cooked with fresh eggs but not intended to be heated (a bacteria that causes food poisoning). 6. Avoid consuming raw eggs or eggs that have been lightly heated (soft-boiled egg, fried egg). Do not make ice cream, mayonnaise, or other delicacies based on fresh eggs that do not go through a heat-processing step at home.
7: After cleaning kitchen items (cutlery, plates, pots) with a scrub brush or sponge, hot water, and dishwashing liquid, air-dry them. Avoid using a tea towel to clean kitchen utensils as this could re-contaminate the clean food utensils with bacteria.
8 Immediately after handling any raw food, including vegetables, fruit, raw meat, poultry, fresh eggs, or fish, wash your hands with hot water and soap.
9. Defrosting frozen food should be done in a proper container that prohibits direct contact with other food products, either in the refrigerator or microwave. Uncooked meat, fish, and poultry should only be defrosted in the refrigerator on the bottom shelf.
10. Avoid buying perishable items (meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and egg products) from disorganized, stuffy stores or devoid of necessary appliances like refrigerators and freezers.
11. Avoid buying fruits and vegetables that have been in direct contact with other food items. Before cleaning fruits or vegetables, avoid eating them.
12. Wash the fruit or vegetable well with tap water to eliminate any nasty residue. Soak the fruit or vegetable in water with liquid detergent and rinse with a brush. Fruits and vegetables can be dried using the air or a fresh paper towel.
Take Care with Risky Foods
Food-poisoning bacteria can grow and increase more readily on some types of food than on others. Foods that pose a risk include:
- Foods including raw or cooked meat, such as chicken and minced meat; dairy products, such as custard and dairy-based sweets, such as custard tarts and cheesecake; eggs, and egg products, such as mousse
- Seafood dishes like seafood salad, patties, fish balls, and soups with seafood and fish stock smallgoods like ham and salami
- Prepared salads, such as coleslaws, rice salads, and pasta salads, cooked rice and pasta, and prepared fruit salads
- Things already prepared and ready to consume, including pizza, rolls, sandwiches, and other items.
- When opened, packaged, canted, and jarred, foods can become high-risk and should be handled and kept carefully.
Do Not Refreeze Thawed Food
Before cooking, store defrosted food in the refrigerator. Cook the meal right away after defrosting it if you’re using a microwave to defrost it. Avoid thawing frozen food in the temperature danger zone because food poisoning germs might flourish there.
Avoid refreezing thawed food in general. Food that has been frozen twice is more likely to contain harmful microorganisms. The risk is based on how the food was handled during thawing and refreezing and its state when frozen. Once thawed, raw food should never be frozen again.
Keeping Raw Foods Away from Other Foods
To ensure food safety, you should always keep raw foods away from other foods. This includes both fresh fruits and vegetables as well as meat. It would be best if you also washed your hands after handling food. This will help prevent cross-contamination, a common cause of foodborne illness.
Keeping raw foods separate from other foods can prevent the spread of harmful bacteria. The germs that cause food poisoning can survive on many surfaces. They can be transferred to your hands, as well as your kitchen counters, cutting boards, and utensils.
When buying fruits and vegetables, check the labels for the expiration date. They should never be left in the open for several hours. It would be best if you also washed them before eating.
The safest way to store fruits and vegetables is to refrigerate them. They should also be kept away from raw fish and poultry. You can minimize the risk of cross-contamination by using a tightly-fitting lid. You may also need to use commercial disinfectants in some instances.
Whenever you prepare food, wash your hands with warm soapy water. You should also clean your cutting board’s surface after cutting the food.
When cooking foods, it is important to remember to use separate utensils for raw and cooked foods. For example, you should not use the same knife when preparing both. You should also cook foods to the correct temperature and refrigerate leftovers within two hours.
Avoiding Pesticide Residue in Food
In recent years, pesticide residues’ environmental and public health effects have become increasingly known. For example, chronic exposure to high levels of pesticides can lead to fertility problems, blood disorders, liver diseases, and neurological and cancer-related illnesses.
The EPA and other regulatory agencies regulate the presence of pesticides in food. As with all other chemicals, the amount of residues varies based on various factors, including the chemical’s composition and its use at different stages of the production cycle. The following table provides a list of common food processing operations studied for their ability to reduce pesticide residues.
Some of the more common processing operations include peeling, freezing, baking, drying, and fermenting. While the effectiveness of these procedures is varied, they generally lower the amount of pesticide residue in the end product.
Washing, cooking, and soaking are methods that can reduce pesticide residues. Soaking in water, for example, reduced deltamethrin residues in chickpeas by 70-73%.
A study on pesticide residues in strawberries found that residues of organophosphorus insecticides decreased with the cooking process. In addition, a study of grapefruit marmalade showed a significant reduction in pesticide residues.
Some foods, such as corn, soybeans, and tofu, may be contaminated with insecticides sprayed on the field when the crop is growing. However, these compounds are usually degraded by various thermal processing treatments.
Why is it Crucial to Maintain Clean Food?
It is critical that the food and water we consume be hygienic and secure. Food poisoning can occur if hazardous microorganisms and parasites contaminate our foods and beverages (resulting, for example, in diarrhea or vomiting). Therefore, it is crucial to prepare food safely and hygienically.
Food safety is a comprehensive strategy for reducing and managing food safety risks. Purchasing raw ingredients, processing them, packaging the food, delivering it, and waiting until the goods are ready for sale are all included. Food is susceptible to biological, physical, chemical, and allergic contamination during preparation.