Cooking 101: Food Safety

I’ve seen and heard some pretty scary stories about poor food safety. Examples include putting cooked meat back on the same plate that had raw meat on it, leaving cooked meats out on the counter for >4 hours, not washing hands before cooking or after handling raw meat/chicken/seafood, etc.

I recently watched a webinar discussing ways to improve food safety by including more instructions for safe food handling in recipes. The stats are a little shocking, and while it seems overly basic, if a couple of changes help people remember to practice safe food handling tactics it seems worth incorporating. So with the hopes of encouraging better safety awareness I’ll be including a few more instructions as just helpful reminders for how to handle food safely.

How aware are you of safe food handling practices? What are some concerns you have around food safety?

General food safety tips:

Wash your hands with soap and water before and after cooking, and especially after touching any raw meats. Wash any surfaces that come in contact with raw meat with soap and water. Clean raw produce by rinsing it under cold running water. Don’t forget to clean produce even when you don’t eat the skin (ie. avocados, melons, etc) because your knife cutting into the food can bring in germs.

Avoid cross-contamination by keeping uncooked foods away from foods you’d eat raw (no raw chicken by fresh salad greens). Use separate cutting boards and plates for raw meats, poultry and seafood. Keep raw meats, poultry, seafood and eggs away from fresh produce when stored in the refrigerator in case of leaks.

Using a food thermometer is a great way to keep foods safely cooked without overcooking and becoming dry. Keep internal temperatures in mind: Beef, lamb, pork, fish should cook to 145°F; Ground beef, pork, lamb, egg dishes should be 160°F; Poultry and leftovers should be 165°F.

Keep foods out of the danger zone (40-140°F) where bacteria and germs develop faster. Don’t leave perishable food out for more than 2 hours (or more than 1 hour if it’s hot outside >90°F). De-frost foods safely by letting them defrost overnight in the refrigerator, by running cold water over it, or in the microwave.

For more information on food safety check out these 10 Food Safety Mistakes and how to avoid them.

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