Handy tips on preparing food safely

Sometimes, keeping your hands clean isn't enough to ensure your food is safe to eat. Read on for tips on how to make sure you don't pepper your kitchen with bacteria during the cooking process.

Handy tips on preparing food safely

Kitchen hygiene is just as important for home cooks as it is for restaurant chefs. Harmful bacteria can multiply on food prep surfaces and equipment, causing your food to spoil and endangering your health. Cleanliness in the kitchen begins with you. Wash your hands with soap and water before working or cooking and between individual prep stages.

Important rules to follow

  • Always wash kitchen utensils in hot soapy water between prep stages.
  • Plastic cutting boards are more hygienic than wooden ones — germs can settle into the cracks in wooden boards.
  • Use two different cutting boards for raw and cooked foods.
  • Wash or replace dishcloths, dish towels and sponges frequently because bacteria reproduce explosively in warm, moist environments.
  • Maintain the cold chain: pick frozen and refrigerated foods up last at the supermarket. Once you get home, put them in the fridge or freezer before putting your other groceries away.
  • Don't leave raw foods or leftovers at room temperature for any length of time or germs will spread and possibly cause illness.
  • Take out the garbage regularly.

When special care is required

  • Be careful when preparing meat, fish, poultry and eggs to ensure harmful bacteria won't have a chance to breed.
  • When thawing meat, fish or poultry, place it on a plate in the fridge, unwrapped but covered. Discard the liquid from thawing, as it may contain harmful bacteria. Thoroughly wash meat under running water and prepare immediately.
  • Cook meat, hamburger and fresh sausages all the way through; the core temperature in the meat must be 70°C  (160°F) for at least 10 minutes to kill off salmonella.
  • Use only very fresh eggs for dishes requiring raw eggs and store the prepared egg dish for no more than 24 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Shellfish should be cooked on the day of purchase. Wash thoroughly before cooking and follow the proper cooking times.
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