Are You Making These Food Safety Mistakes?
By Sara Butler
Foodborne illness is a big issue. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 48 million people get sick as a result of the food they eat each year. Several of these illnesses are preventable because the cause can be traced back to your very own kitchen. There are some mistakes made in your kitchen that can easily make you ill, but they're easy to prevent once you know what to look for.
Not Keeping Food at the Right Temperature
It's easy to let something sit out for a while, especially if you're having a dinner party or a potluck. The problem is that between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, bacteria can multiply quite easily in food. That's why these temperatures are called the "danger zone." Leaving a food to sit at these temperatures for as little as 20 minutes can create a hazard that can make you sick.
Make sure you refrigerate food within two hours of using it. If you're having people over, make sure to keep hot food hot in a slow cooker or simmering on the stove. And keep cold foods on ice or in the refrigerator.
Putting Hot Leftovers in the Refrigerator
If you place foods that are too hot into your refrigerator before they've cooled sufficiently, then that can raise the temperature of your entire refrigerator, putting all the food in it directly into the "danger zone" talked about above.
You can easily avoid this catastrophe by allowing hot food to cool off on the counter before putting it away. Cool foods for at least an hour before placing them in the refrigerator and you should be good to go.
There are many people who mistakenly believe that washing chicken is something that must be done before you cook it. Those people are wrong. Never rinse chicken since it only serves to spread contaminants around the kitchen.
The fix for this is simple: Don't wash your chicken. Keep it to a contained area when you prep and make sure not to touch anything else before washing your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water.
Improperly Prepping Produce
If you buy pre-washed produce, there's no need to wash it again. But if it hasn't been cleaned, then you definitely need to give it a good rinse. The reason that pre-washed doesn't require any more prep is that it's likely that it's not got a lot of bacteria on it. However, introducing to your sink will expose it to some things you may not want.
Food safety is important. If you're not sure of something, then make sure to look up how to handle a food and keep it from making you sick.
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