Why Food Safety Rules Matter In A Household
The technique of handling food, preparing and storing it that makes food safe from contamination and reduces the probability of consumers falling sick from foodborne diseases is known as food safety. Food safety and hygiene is of utmost importance.
Be it in a restaurant or at home, food safety rules help to protect the health of consumers from food poisoning and other foodborne illnesses. Food safety is not only a measure for disease control prevention but also a necessity for health safety and a healthy lifestyle. When food is contaminated by harmful bacteria and other germs, there is a high probability of food poisoning to those who consume the contaminated food.
Pathogenic microorganisms can easily contaminate basic and everyday foods. Perishable food and high-risk ingredients involved in these cases include raw meat poultry products, fresh fruits vegetables, undercooked seafood, raw sprouts, ready eat foods, poultry and seafood and raw milk products. These can cause food poisoning and other foodborne illnesses if adequate food safety measures are not applied.
10 Food Safety Rules To Follow At Home
As per a recent WHO report, at least 600 million people globally become inflicted with foodborne illnesses. Of these, at least 420,000 people die every year. It not only affects the economic progress but also results in productivity loss and inflated medical expenses as disease control burden.
Thus, it is vital to practice hygiene and follow food safety measures to avoid risk of contamination and foodborne diseases to those who consume it.
You can keep your family safe at home by following some simple but valuable food safety tips. These are-
- Avoid overpacking your refrigerator
- Be strategic loading your refrigerator
- Allow leftovers to cool before storing them
- Reheat leftovers the safe way
- Know when leftovers in the fridge or freezer will expire
- Thaw frozen foods the right way
- Pay close attention to expiration dates
- Know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting
- Engage the whole family in cleaning high-touch surfaces
- Wash your hands!
Let's discuss each of these in detail.
It can be difficult to know what food safety rules you should follow, and how to keep your family safe.
There are a lot of factors that go into deciding what food safety rules you should follow.
Overpacking your refrigerator may restrict cool air to circulate around different areas of the fridge evenly. This will result in improper cooling of your food in the refrigerator. It should be remembered that air circulation is required for evenly cooling your food.
The temperature of the food refrigerator should be at 5 degrees Celsius or below, freezer temperature should be below -15 degrees Celsius. You may use a food thermometer to keep a check at this temperature inside the refrigerator.
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Loading your refrigerator is also an art of food safety rules. It is vital to avoid risk of foodborne diseases and food poisoning. Be strategic while you load your refrigerator by following some simple rules.
For example, keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood in sealed containers, refrigerate freeze if you are not planning to use them in a few days. Keep eggs in their original containers instead of placing them in the door of the food refrigerator. Refrigerate perishable food kept in room temperature within two hours.
Place leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate promptly to allow quick cooling. Avoid marinating food on counters, use food refrigerator to marinate meat, poultry and seafood. Use separate containers to store raw food and cooked food in the fridge. Keep raw meat below cooked foods in the food refrigerator.
Always use sealed or covered containers to store raw food to prevent cross contamination. Remember, freezing doesn't destroy germs, but it helps keep food safe until you cook it.
Safely cooked food is as important as the way it is preserved and stored. There are rules to follow when you are storing leftovers in your refrigerator. It is very important to refrigerate leftover food within two hours in room temperature.
Place leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate promptly to allow quick cooling. Once done with the cooling of the food, cover it and put the leftover in the food refrigerator. Place the temperature of the food refrigerator at 5 degrees Celsius or below for safe food to be consumed.
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Foodborne illness is a serious concern, and it can happen to anyone.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses every year.
Cooked food can be stored in the fridge and consumed within days in ideal conditions. Reheat food to above 75 degrees Celsius or, preferably, boiling. The steam should come out of the food throughout, not just from the edges.
Follow the same measures when cooking with a microwave. Do not forget to stir the food halfway through cooking when using a microwave. Internal temperature must be checked with a food thermometer.
Always follow the golden rule for stored food- If in doubt, throw it out. But before that follow some rules to keep a check at the expiry of the leftovers or food handling stored in the fridge or freezer. Ideally, it is advisable to consume the leftovers or cooked food stored in the fridge within three to four days. If possible, put a label on containers with date so that you may know when the cooked food will expire. If there is still confusion, do not hesitate to throw the food out to avoid any contaminated food being consumed.
Thawing frozen foods is critical to prevent multiplying bacteria to dangerous levels. There are basically 4 options for thawing food properly.
- Thaw by cooking- Usually safe for small pieces of food including ground or chopped meat.
- Thaw in microwave- Fastest medium of cooking recommended for small food items.
- Thaw in cold water- Consumes about 30 minutes per pound of food, change water every 30 minutes and keep it at safe minimum 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Thaw in refrigerator- Check that the juices of raw meat do not contaminate other foods in your fridge.
With more and more use of canned foods, it is important to know the meanings of products labelled as best by, use by and expired by dates. Whereas best by refers to the peak quality of the food, use by is reference to sellers for display and expiration means the food item is in danger zone and not to be used anymore. Stick to these dates mentioned on the food items for use.
Cleaning is the process of removing visible soil and dirt from the surface, thereby making it ready to be disinfected. Disinfecting is the process of making the surface germ free using chemicals. It is important to know that cleaning is a must before disinfecting otherwise germs may hide under the soil during disinfecting. Usually 70% alcohol solution is recommended for disinfecting. Do not forget to wash your hands with hot soapy water after disinfecting the surface.
High-touch surfaces are most vulnerable as far as food safety is concerned. These points are touched frequently by people during food preparation, thereby increasing the chance of getting food infected with bacteria. These points include countertops, handle of the refrigerator, knobs, kitchen handles, switches etc. You may take help of the family members to keep these points clean apart from cleaning the most identified high-touch surfaces like cutting boards and other utensils.
Washing your hands is the most traditional method of preventing the spread of germs. Harmful bacteria or germs can survive in many places in and around your kitchen. They can be present in your hands, utensils, food, cutting boards, and utensils countertops. Wash your hands with soap and running water. Scrub the back of your hands, between fingers, and under your nails properly.
Rinse hands then dry with clean paper towels. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils with hot soapy or soapy water especially after used for raw meat, raw foods, meat poultry and seafood, and fruits and vegetables. Rinse fresh produce fruits and vegetables under running water. Make sure you don't wash meat poultry and seafood, eggs, and cutting boards used with them as it can spread harmful germs around your kitchen.
Do not forget to wash your hands regularly.
The food safety rules that you follow should be tailored to your family’s needs.
Food safety rules are always changing, and it can be difficult to keep up with them all.