September is National Food Safety Education Month
Each year one in six people in the U.S. get sick by eating or drinking a contaminated food or drink. More than half of this population is under the age of 15. Food poisoning is more dangerous than many realize because it can cause serious health effects many years after the contamination. Food poisoning caused by bacteria, protozoa or a virus can range from mild to severe gastroenteritis.
Contamination can occur at any point of food production, handling, delivery or preparation. Here are four key tips to help you prepare food safely at home:
- Clean. Bacteria can spread by our hands, cutting boards, utensils, counter tops and even other foods.
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after your handle food.
- Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot water and soap after you prepare each food. Then move to the next food.
- Rinse fresh fruit and vegetables before you eat or cook.
- Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods in shopping cart, grocery bags and the fridge.
- Use one cutting board for produce and another one for meats, poultry, seafood and eggs.
- Never place cooked food on a plate which was used for raw meat. Wash it with hot water and soap first.
- Cook. Food is safe when it is cooked to a specific internal temperature.
- Use a food thermometer when you prepare meats, poultry, seafood and eggs.
- To ensure proper temperatures, keep a chart of the internal temperatures where you cook.
- When you reheat foods:
- Make sure there are no cold spots, where bacteria can survive.
- Stir, flip or rotate food for even cooking.
- Refrigerate or freeze meat as soon as you get home from the store.
- Do not let raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs sit at room temperature for more than two hours.
- Do not defrost food at room temperature. Defrost in the fridge, in cold water or in the microwave. If thawed in the microwave or cold water, cook the food right away.
- Marinate food in the fridge.
- Split large leftovers into small containers.
- Check food in your fridge on a regular basis. Different foods need to be thrown out, ranging from one day to two weeks.