Food safety is usually taken for granted
by the buying public, but everyone’s attention was recently directed to food poisoning involving some meat that was under cooked. It was determined that the problem never would have happened if the meat had been cooked properly. E.Coli 0157.H7 is a potent virus, but it can be completely destroyed when the meat is fully cooked.
It is important for consumers to take an all-around food safety approach to purchasing, storing and preparing both traditional and new meat and poultry products. Ultimately, consumers and food handlers bear the responsibility for keeping food safe once it leaves the store.
Food safety is not just about cleanliness
but also the way we handle food, that is the storing and preparing of food.
About 85 percent of food-borne illness cases could be avoided each year if consumers would handle food properly. The most common food-borne illnesses are caused by a combination of bacteria, naturally present in the environment, and food handling mistakes. Ironically, these are also the easiest types of food-borne illnesses to prevent. Proper cooking or processing of raw meat and poultry kills bacteria that can cause food-borne illness.
When you’re out, do your grocery shopping last, take food straight home to the refrigerator, and never leave food in a hot car! Don’t buy anything you won’t use before the use-by date. Don’t buy food in poor condition. Make sure refrigerated food is cold to the touch. Frozen food should be rock-solid. Canned goods should be free of dents, cracks or bulging lids that can indicate a serious food poisoning threat.
For food safety the performance and maintenance of your refrigerator is of the utmost importance. Check the temperature of your refrigerator with an appliance thermometer. To keep bacteria in check, the refrigerator should run at below 4 degrees centigrade; the freezer unit at minus 18 degrees centigrade. Generally, keep your refrigerator as cold as possible without freezing your milk or lettuce.
Here is some Food Safety tips.
- When you prepare food, keep everything clean and thaw out any frozen food you plan to prepare in your refrigerator. Take it out of the freezer in advance and place it in the refrigerated section of your refrigerator. Raw food should always be kept lower than ready to eat or cooked foods.
- Always wash your hands in hot soapy water before preparing and handling any food as well as after you use the bathroom, change nappies, handle pets, etc. Remember, too, that bacteria can live in your kitchen towels, sponges and dishcloths. Wash them often and replace the dishcloths and sponges you use regularly every few weeks.
- Be absolutely sure that you keep all raw meats, poultry and fish and their juices away from other food to avoid cross contamination.
- Wash your hands, your cutting board and knife in hot soapy water after cutting up chicken and before dicing salad ingredients.
- It is best to use plastic cutting boards rather than wooden ones where bacteria can hide in grooves. New thinking is to use a different board for each type of cutting. Colour coded boards help to keep track of how you use them.
- Don’t take your food out of the freezer and leave it on the kitchen counter to thaw. This is extremely dangerous since the bacteria can grow in the outer layers of the food before the inside thaws. Bacteria can grow at an alarming rate.
- A single bacterium can multiply into more than two million bacteria in just seven hours! The temperature danger zone for food is between 5°c and 60°c where bacteria will grow at their fastest rate.
Abide by these food safety procedures and you will avoid the dangers of food poisoning.
These are another hazard for food safety. Whether we like it or not we are exposed to chemicals and pollutants every day, some of these are unavoidable and some are unnecessary.
Take an inventory of all the chemicals you use on a regular basis and see if you can cut down or use substitutes.
For aerosol cans such as hair spray or deodorant, try using pump action containers. They are better for the environment and your lungs.
When using surface cleaners don’t spray straight onto bench tops, spray into a cloth or sponge first to avoid inhaling the fumes. If you use pest control sprays wear a mask and open as many doors and windows as you can.
Gas appliances should be checked regularly for leaks, and remember not to stand in front of microwave ovens when they are in use.
This might not strictly speaking be food safety, but while we are on cleaning you might consider these tips. If you are asthmatic you might think about replacing carpets with tiled floors and scatter rugs.
Carpets harbour dust mites and trap all manner of debris, especially if you’ve got pets. Replacing the carpets may not be an option, in which case invest in a good vacuum cleaner, one that has a sub micron filter, and use it at least three times a week.
It is also a good idea to strip your bed and vacuum the mattress regularly.
Make it a habit to look for products that are safe for the environment and for you. Food safety is your safety.