Increased incidence of contamited food causing serious illness and even death underscores the global threats posed by unsafe food. Unsafe food could potentially contain harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances, and cause more than 200 diseases - ranging from diarrhea to cancers. This makes it increasingly important for our generation to understand the keys to food safety to ensure a disease-free existence for our near & dear ones as well as ourselves.
Why Food Safety Matters
Unsafe food can spread food borne illnesses like Salmonellosis and Campylobacter .The good news is that you can stay on top of food borne illness by playing it safe when buying, preparing, and storing food.
Start at the Supermarket
Make sure you put refrigerated foods in your cart last. For example, meat, fish, eggs, and milk should hit your cart after cereals, produce, and chips.
When buying packaged meat, poultry, or fish, check the expiration date on the label. Don't buy a food if it has expired or if it will expire before you plan to use it.
Don't buy or use fish or meat that has a strong or strange odor. Follow your nose and eyes - even if the expiration date is OK, pass on any fresh food that has a strange smell or that looks unusual.
Place meats in plastic bags so that any juices do not leak onto other foods in your cart.
Separate any raw meat, fish, or poultry from vegetables, fruit, and other foods you'll eat raw.
Check eggs before buying them. Make sure that none of the eggs are cracked and that they are all clean. Eggs should be grade A or AA.
Don't slow down your cart for these bad-news foods:
Fruit with broken skin (bacteria can enter through the skin and contamite the fruit)
Unpasteurized milk, ciders, or juices (they can contain harmful bacteria)
In the Kitchen
After a trip to the market, the first things you should put away are those that belong in the refrigerator and freezer. Keep eggs in the origil carton on a shelf in the fridge.
Ready to cook but not sure how quickly things should be used, how long they should cook, or what should be washed? Here are some important guidelines:
Most raw meat, poultry, or fish should be cooked or frozen within 2 days. Steaks, chops, and roasts can stay in the refrigerator 3-5 days.
Unopened packages of hot dogs can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. Opened packages of hot dogs should be eaten within 1 week.
Cook meat, poultry, and fish immediately; don't let it hang around for hours.
Cook roasts, steaks, chops, and other solid cuts of meat (beef, veal, pork, and lamb) until the juices run clear or until the meat has an interl temperature of at least 145°F (63°C). After the meat finishes cooking, let it rest for 3 minutes at room temperature before eating it.
Cook ground beef, veal, pork, or lamb until it's no longer pink or until it has an interl temperature of at least 160°F (71°C).
Cook chicken and other turkey until it's no longer pink or until it has an interl temperature of at least 165°F (74°C). Check chicken and turkey in several places - breast meat and leg meat - to be sure it's cooked.
Cook fish until it is opaque and flaky when separated with a fork or until it has an interl temperature of 145°F (63°C).
Scrub all fruits and veggies with plain water to remove any pesticides, dirt, or bacterial contamition. Remove the outer leaves of leafy greens, such as spich or lettuce. Don't let eggs stay at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Make sure you cook eggs thoroughly so yokes or whites are firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny.
Even though the kitchen might look clean, your hands, the countertops, and the utensils you use could still contain lots of bacteria that you can't even see.
To prevent the spread of bacteria while you're preparing food:
Always wash your hand with warm water and soap before preparing any food.
Wash your hands after handling raw meat, poultry, fish, or egg products.
Keep raw meats and their juices away from other foods in the refrigerator and on countertops.
Never put cooked food on a dish that was holding raw meat, poultry, or fish.
If you use knives and other utensils on raw meat, poultry, or fish, you need to wash them before using them to cut or handle something else.
If you touch raw meat, poultry, or fish, wash your hands. Don't wipe them on a dish towel - this can contamite the towel with bacteria, which may be spread to someone else's hands.
Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and fish, and another board for everything else.
When you're done preparing food, wipe down the countertops with hot soapy water or a commercial or homemade cleaning solution. Consider using paper towels to clean surfaces. Don't forget to wash the dishes, utensils, and cutting board in hot, soapy water.
Wash cutting boards - which can become a breeding ground for bacteria if they aren't cleaned carefully - separately from other dishes and utensils in hot, soapy water. Cutting boards can be sanitized with a homemade cleaning solution (1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water). After washing and disinfecting the cutting board, rinse it thoroughly with plain water and pat with paper towels or leave it to air dry. Wash dirty dish towels in hot water
The article has been written by Mrs Shabista sreen, Dietician, raya Super specialty Hospital.