Understand the food safety zone
The food safety zone comprises a lot of things-- hygiene, correct temperature range of cooking and food storage, proper food handling, and more!
An ideal temperature range not only enhances the taste and texture of your food, but also restores its nutritional value, freshness, and longevity which means, for how long it would be fit for consumption.
But, what is this ideal temperature range? Well, it is different for cooking food and food storage.
Cooking food at the right temperature can kill germs, bacteria like salmonella, Listeria, or E-Coli, thus preventing foodborne illness, food poisoning. Raw meat is highly vulnerable to bacteria, thus, while cooking, it is better to follow the safe temperature guidelines issued by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Once, the food is cooked at the right internal temperature, the focus shifts to food storage. If you haven't stored the food correctly, no matter how perfectly you cooked it, it will turn bad!
Before we discuss the food safety zone, it is important to understand the danger zone! Sounds scary? Well, it is!
- A temperature range between 40 Fahrenheit to 140 Fahrenheit is considered a danger zone. This means any food stored between this temperature range is prone to bacterial growth. The longer your food is out in the danger zone, the higher is the chance of a bacterial attack. Your food becomes absolutely unfit for consumption. And if eaten by chance, it can cause foodborne illness.
- To keep food safe and healthy, store your food below 40 Fahrenheit or above 135 Fahrenheit. This temperature range is unfavorable for pathogen growth and helps to maintain the food's nutritional value, making it last longer. And, therefore, the temperature range is called the food safety zone.
- Also, the safe temperature range varies from hot foods to cold foods. Store hot food above 140 Fahrenheit and cold food below 40 Fahrenheit.
Implementing a food safety zone outside your home
Picnics are everyone's favorite. Playing games with friends and family, humming songs while grilling spicy chicken breasts at the lakeside is something we all look forward to. But, what that frozen food you got to barbeque on farms go bad or that lettuce and veggies you were about to serve as a side salad turn yellow! What a turn-off!
Well, we won't let that happen. Let's see how
1. Correct packaging helps keep food safe during travel. Keep cold food or frozen food in a cooler or icebox. Make sure the temperature range is below 40 Fahrenheit or it will lead to bacterial growth and spoil your cool food.
2. Keep cold drinks and cold foods in separate coolers. That's because we tend to pick soft drinks or beer more times compared to cold foods. As a result, frozen food will be safe in a separate box as it won't be exposed to warm air.
3. Wash fruits and vegetables properly under running water. Dry them using a clean kitchen towel and then pack.
4. If you are planning to set up a grill at a picnic site, then make sure you store the marinated meat or cottage cheese in the cooler.
5. Take your food thermometer along, so you can check the internal temperature of the food to make sure the temperature range is fine and it is properly cooked.
You can't stop at just one restaurant meal.
You want to ensure that you're safe and healthy when dining out.
The things to watch out for when eating out
Whether out on a picnic or at a restaurant for Sunday brunch, watch if the utensils dish, mugs, and cutlery are clean.
Check if the food is properly cooked, especially if it is meat. Uncooked food can lead to foodborne illness.
Include foods that are high in fiber. Go for extra veggies in the wrap or burrito. Make sure to include a side salad with a meal.
If out in a restaurant, keep an eye out if the waiters are wearing hand gloves and face masks.
Keep your ready grilled food hot! This means, once your food is properly cooked at the safe temperature range, shift it to the side of the grill, away from the coal.
This will ensure that the internal temperature of the food is within the desired range, keeping the taste and texture intact!
Tips on how to be safe and have a good time at restaurants
Grab a quick healthy snack like a protein bar before you go to a restaurant. It is seen that people end up ordering more and unhealthy foods when they are hungry.
The hot foods are supposed to be hot and the cold foods cold. If you find chicken burger is not as hot or your beer less chilly. Ask the waiter to replace. Because, a temperature danger zone can lead to foodborne illness .
See how the style! No, we are not asking you to enter the kitchenjust check the menu. If it says grilled steak or fried chicken or steamed momos! Pick the one that is less unhealthy.
How to eat safely and healthy
- Wash your hands thoroughly before you grab that bite! It's the first step towards preventing foodborne illness
- Wash your greens. Cook the food at safe temperature .
- Make sure food storage is done properly. Never store your food in the temperature danger zone , i.e between 40 and 140 F.
- Try to make the junk less unhealthy. If ordering pizza, burger or sandwich, go for the multi grain breads, more veggies and less cheese.
You’ve been to a restaurant before and had a great meal, but you don’t remember what precautions you should take.
You don’t want to become sick because of food poisoning, but you also don’t want to be paranoid.
Tips for avoiding cross-contamination and getting sick
Use separate chopping boards and knives for greens and meat.
When going out on a picnic, Make Sure you wrap the raw meat , poultry and veggies and fruits separately . This will help you prevent cross contamination , consequently reducing the risk of foodborne illness , food poisoning .
Food Safety is an essential to ensure a healthy life. Keep food in safe temperature range . Cook meat till it reaches the desired internal temperature range . Wash hands, dishes and greens properly .
Just by following these simple steps, you can keep foodborne illness at bay!
The United States Food and Drug Administration and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention issues advisories from time to time to assure Food Safety and how to keep Food Safe .
You’ve been to that restaurant before and you know it’s clean, but you still don’t feel comfortable eating there.
You feel guilty for not trusting the restaurant and you don’t want to make a scene.