Be Food Smart

We should all eat fresh, delicious and wholesome foods. When buying food, it is important to be “food smart”. There are four important rules in handling food; washing hands frequently, avoid cross-contamination, cooked the food that the right temperatures, and put them in the refrigerator as soon as possible.

Clean your hands and kitchen surfaces often to prevent bacteria from entering cutting boards, sponges, utensils, and your countertops. Wash your hands after using the bathroom, handling your pet, or changing diapers. Wash everything with soapy water as you go on from one food to the next. A plastic cutting board should be put in the dishwasher or washed thoroughly in hot soapy water. Use paper towels, rather than cloths, to clean your kitchen surfaces

Bacteria can be spread from one food to another, especially raw meat, poultry, and seafood. These foods and their juices should be kept away from ready to eat foods. A good idea is to use a different cutting board for raw meat products. Never put cooked food on the plate that held raw meat, chicken, or fish.

Foods must be cooked longer enough at a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria. A clean thermometer placed in food measures the inside temperature of the food and assures that the food is cooked thoroughly and has reached a safe internal temperature.

Under cooking ground beef at a temperature of less than 160° results in a high risk of illness. Steaks and roasts should be cooked at a minimum temperature of 145°; chicken should be cooked at a higher temperature, 165°.

Eggs should be cooked till the yolk and white are firm. Avoid recipes calling for raw or partially cooked eggs. Fish should be cooked to 145°.

When microwaving your food, avoid cold spots where bacteria can survive Cover your food, stirring it, and rotating it. When reheating soups and sauces, have them, to a boil. All leftovers should be heated to at least 165°.

Refrigerate your foods quickly to keep bacteria from growing and multiplying. The refrigerator must be at at Less than 40°, and the freezer at zero 40° or below. Never overpacked the refrigerator, since cool air must circulate to keep your food safe. Left overs, prepared foods, and perishables should be put in the refrigerator within two hours. Thaw and defrost your foods under cold running water or in the microwave. Marinate your food in the refrigerator, and never refreeze your thawed food.

Cut leftovers into small containers so they can cool quickly. Cut large pieces of meat into small portions so they chill faster. When putting hot soups in the refrigerator, keep the cover loose so heat can escape.

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