Translating science into food safety policy and practice
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By: Ariel Garsow
It is common in the New Year to make a resolution to eat healthier. This may include incorporating foods into your diet that you have not cooked with or eaten before. Maybe you want to meal prep the night before for the next day.
Improper handling of food can lead to an increased risk of foodborne illness. There are four steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting sick from the healthy food you are preparing this New Year: clean, separate, cook, and chill.
Clean: wash your hands and the counter
Hand washing may seem monotonous, but it is important. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before you start cooking, after handling potentially contaminated food as well as before eating. Clean your countertop after use as well.
Separate: keep raw meat, eggs, poultry, and seafood far away from produce
Cross-contamination can occur if the same cutting boards and utensils are used simultaneously for raw products that are commonly contaminated (raw meat, eggs, poultry, and seafood) and produce. To prevent the spread of foodborne pathogens, use different cutting boards and utensils or wash them with hot, soapy water between uses.
Cook: use your food thermometer
A visual test may not be sufficient to ensure meat, fish, and seafood are fully cooked. If you are unsure of what temperature to cook an item to, here is a link to a chart with safe internal cooking temperatures for various types of foods. There are also some minimum internal cooking temperatures on the figure below.
Chill: refrigerate food after preperation
After you have finished preparing your healthy meal, remember to keep hot food hot (at or above 140°F) and cold food cold (at or below 40°F). Between 40°F - 140°F is the “danger zone.” Avoid foodborne illness by cooling leftovers quickly in shallow containers and placing them in the refrigerator within two hours of preperation.
Hope these tips help to keep the food you prepare safe and healthy. Wish you all the best with your New Year’s resolutions!
1. Bin, Qi. 2019. Photo by qi bin on Unsplash. Unsplash. Available at: https://unsplash.com/photos/IIzny_Qgw-g. Accessed 21 December 2021.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021. Four Simple Steps to Food Safety. Food Safety. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/keep-food-safe.html. Accessed 21 December 2021.
3. U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. ‘Danger Zone’ (40 °F - 140 °F). Available at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/.... Accessed 21 December 2021.
Graduate Research Associate