As a homemaker, one of your foremost concerns should be food safety. Food-borne diseases are a concern not just for restaurant owners and those running food-processing plants. Food safety necessarily begins where your family takes most of their meals – at home. Food poisoning can cause severe mental and physical distress, so to make sure that your loved ones are eating only safe, wholesome food from your kitchen, it’s a good idea to follow these steps.
The first thing to remember when practicing food safety is to keep things clean. This may seem like an obvious step, but just because something looks clean doesn’t mean that it’s germ-free. The most basic component of kitchen hygiene is hand-washing. Always wash your hands in soapy water before and after you handle food items. Wash your utensils and equipment such as knives and chopping boards after every use too. Cutting salad vegetables with a knife that’s been used on raw meat or fish can have disastrous results. It’s also important to wash or wipe off the lids of cans before you open them to prevent leptospirosis, a disease transmitted via rat urine or droppings.
Separating and segregating foods is also important. This is done to prevent cross-contamination. Keeping raw food away from cooked, ready-to-eat items should be your top priority – you’ll find that the people who bag your groceries at the supermarket do this as a matter of course by wrapping raw meat and poultry in separate bags. Inside the kitchen, take care to use separate knives and cutting boards for raw food items, and change your boards once they’ve become seamed and scarred. Be sure to boil marinades before serving them as sauces or part of the finished dish.
Cooking, of course, is another important aspect of food safety. Different foods should be cooked to different temperatures before they are safe to eat. Using a food thermometer will help you determine whether a certain meat has reached the desired cooking temperature if you can’t or don’t trust yourself to judge from appearances alone. Cooking meat makes sure that deadly parasites that reside in animal muscle are killed off.
Finally, it’s important to chill your food to keep it fresh. Store your perishables in the refrigerator within an hour after you arrive from the supermarket, and refrigerate food while marinating. When you thaw food, don’t just leave it out in a puddle of water on the counter either; use running water or the microwave.
More information on food safety is available at www.foodsafetyadmin.com.