If you or your child has ever endured a bout of food poisoning, you know you never want to go through that misery again. Staying healthy starts with an ounce of prevention in the kitchen.
If you never had to get your food handler’s card, here’s your opportunity to learn how to keep your family safe. Please take the following five simple measures that improve food safety in your kitchen.
Keep It Covered
Do you sometimes get a bit lazy with leftovers when you clear the table? While the temperatures in your refrigerator deter bacteria, the cold doesn’t eliminate germs. If it did, your lettuce would never wilt. Unfortunately, you can’t smell or taste contamination until it’s too late.
Take a tip from restaurants that let you choose your toppings, like Subway, and keep items properly covered with film or in clear plastic bags or containers. Please keep a Sharpie on hand to label everything with the date.
In general, leftovers keep for three to four days in the refrigerator. When in doubt, it’s better to be safe and toss than risk a stomach ache.
Keep It Hot
The finish line is in sight. With vaccination rolling along and the CDC letting people ditch masks, the pandemic is finally drawing to a close — just in time for summer barbecues.
Ensure that you have a quality food thermometer and cook meat to the correct temperature. While fresh beef only needs to reach 145 degrees, ensure you cook poultry to 165 in the middle.
For other hot meals, adhere to the 2-hour rule. Discard any perishables after this time or store them securely in a cold container. Use your judgment — when outdoor temps soar over 90 degrees, you should bring in mayonnaise-based dishes after one hour.
Keep It Cold
Another way to keep food fresh is to keep it cold or frozen. One way to do this at your summer bash is to put dishes on ice. Fill a bucket or a bowl with ice and place your plates on top. You won’t take up much additional table space, and you’ll keep greens crispy and tasty.
If you don’t want guests coming in and out of your kitchen, keep plenty of coolers on hand. You can fill some with beverages, leaving the rest empty of anything but ice. Make a little wrapping station so that invitees can keep any leftovers cold in between backyard volleyball matches.
Keep It Pristine
If you or your child has a food allergy, you understand the dangers of cross-contamination. However, please remain conscientious of the need for separate serving spoons at parties if you aren’t affected. It’s also wise to let guests with sensitivities serve themselves first at banquet-style events.
If you’ve never worked in the restaurant industry, you might not realize that commercial fridges follow a strict shelf hierarchy that you should try to emulate at home. In general, the raw meats go on the bottom, with poultry and ground beef, foods that require the highest cooking temperature, forming the “basement.”
Keep ready-to-eat foods on the top shelf, and wrap them individually. Doing so helps deter bacterial growth and prevent contamination.
Keep Things Fresh
If you aren’t in the habit of reading expiration dates while shopping, please do so. This rule applies most when picking up items on manager’s special — they are often close to the sell-by date. If you don’t plan to use them immediately, consider giving them a pass.
Your freezer should remain at or below 0-degrees Fahrenheit. Check the thermostat if you have a power outage — if it crept up above the 40-degree mark, you should toss items and start fresh.
The inside of your refrigerator should remain at 40-degrees. If you aren’t sure of the interior temperature, you can find inexpensive appliance thermometers.
Please Take These 5 Simple Food Safety Measures
You don’t want to accidentally subject yourself — or your family — o unnecessary stomach pain and all the accompanying indignity. Please take these five simple measures that improve food safety to protect yourself and those you love.