Home-cooked meals are the best way to ensure nutritious and cost-saving meals. However, food poisoning can happen anywhere including in your home. Illness-causing bacteria can survive in many places around your kitchen – breeding on your hands, utensils, and cutting boards. So how do you significantly reduce the chances of food poisoning? Here’s a checklist that will help.
Wash hands the right way—for 20 seconds with soap and running water.
Wash surfaces and utensils after each use.
Wash fruits and veggies—but not meat, poultry, or eggs!
Use separate cutting boards and plates for produce and for meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
Placing ready-to-eat food on a surface that held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs can spread bacteria and make you sick. Prevent cross-contamination.
Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in the fridge. Bacteria can spread inside your fridge if the juices of raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs drip onto ready-to-eat foods.
Did you know that the bacteria that cause food poisoning multiply quickest in the “Danger Zone” between 40˚ (6 ˚ C) and 140˚ Fahrenheit (60 ˚ C)? And while many people think they can tell when food is “done” simply by checking its color and texture, there are more accurate ways stated below. Better safe than sorry!
Use a food thermometer
Cooked food is safe only after it’s been heated to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Color and texture alone won’t tell you whether your food is done. Instead, use a food thermometer to be sure.
Keep food hot after cooking at 140 °F (60 ° C) or above.
The possibility of bacterial growth actually increases as food cools after cooking because the drop in temperature allows bacteria to thrive. But you can keep your food above the safe temperature of 140°F by using a heat source like a chafing dish, warming tray, or slow cooker.
Microwave food thoroughly to 165 °F (74 ° C) or above.
To make sure harmful bacteria have been killed in your foods, it’s important to microwave them to 165° F or higher.