We don't have full control over how our food is handled before it reaches our kitchens but we can take some precautions to minimize and prevent harmful bacteria, like Salmonella, E. Coli, Listeria, and Campylobacter, from taking over the healthy meals we prepare at home.
There are some simple steps in how we handle, cook, and store our food to prevent food-borne illness. You can't see, smell, or taste harmful bacteria that may cause illness. If you don’t handle the food you eat properly, your risk for getting food poisoning increases. No one wants food poisoning.
Today, I’m going to cover basic food safety tips to keep you and your loved ones happy and healthy.
Four basic steps in food preparation:
Start at the Grocery Store
Don’t thaw your meats and frozen foods on the counter.
The best and safest way to thaw frozen foods is on a plate in the fridge on the bottom shelf. This is the best way to avoid contamination of other items and not have meat juice leak all over your fridge. Gross! Once thawed cook your food as soon as you can.
Oops, you forgot it out of the freezer the night before. No worries, you can safely defrost your food faster in the microwave or in a cold water bath.
You can also cook food from frozen. You just need a little extra time. It will take 50% longer than if you were cooking the food from a thawed state
Don’t rinse your meat with water before cooking it.
The surface of raw meats does have bacteria and when you wash it off it can easily be spread around a kitchen through water splashes. That can increase the risk of contaminating other foods that you’re preparing. Instead, transfer the meat directly from the packaging to the pan you will be cooking with. This will reduce the spread of bacteria. Cooking your meat to a safe internal temperature will kill off any bacteria that may be present on the surface of the meat.
Make sure you are cooking your meat long enough.
The best way to make sure your meat and seafood are cooked all the way through is to use a meat thermometer. Digital thermometers are inexpensive to buy and will quickly tell you the internal temperature of your meat. So much better than cutting into the middle of a chicken breast to see if it’s still pink!
The best way to check the temperature of your meats and seafood is in the center, at the thickest part of the cut. To get an accurate temperature, don’t let it touch the bone. If you are cooking multiple pieces of meat, make sure to check the internal temperature of each piece separately.
Don’t let your cooked food sit out at room temperature for too long.
Cooked food should only sit out at room temperature for a maximum of two hours to cool before it is transferred to the fridge. After two hours, dangerous bacteria can start to grow and contaminate your food.
Wash your fruits and veggies
Conventional or organic, you should be washing all of your fruits and veggies.
Fresh fruits and veggies are the cause of 46% of food poisoning cases. You don’t need to buy expensive fruit and veggie cleaners, a simple wash with water can remove dirt, bacteria, and some pesticides from your produce. Gently rub fruits and veggies under running cold water. Do not use detergent, soaps, bleach or. other cleaning products. They will leave a residue and can change the flavor.
Hello! I'm Jori Zimmerman, a nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Savvy. I work with individuals that are looking to make dietary and lifestyle changes that will lead them to living a healthier and higher quality of life.