Food can become contaminated in many ways or places traveling from farm to table. Therefore, precautions need to be taken by everyone along the route. We as consumers depend on the government to establish rules and regulations for food safety and to also monitor to make sure that they are enforced. Since there is no such thing as a foolproof system and contamination can still happen within our homes, we need to take reasonable steps to further ensure our safety. Following the 4 C’s of food safety is the perfect way to begin.
Bacteria are invisible to the naked eye, it is important to clean everything thoroughly even if it looks clean. Hand washing should be done with hot soapy water. Paper towels should be used once for drying and then thrown away to avoid possible contamination. If cloth hand towels are used they should be changed often. Never use a towel to dry hands that was used to clean liquid from raw meat off counters.
All surfaces should be cleaned before, in between, and after cutting and preparing raw foods. Using paper towels is a good idea, so that you throw away the bacteria with the towel. Throw away cutting boards that are beginning to wear. Cuts and grooves are hard to clean and bacteria can grow.
Rinse all foods under running water. This includes meats before cooking, fruits and vegetables. Use a small vegetable brush to clean rough skin fruits and vegetables. Bacteria can grow in spaces.
All food should be cooked thoroughly. Heat kills bacteria. Foods that are boiled, baked or fry normally reach temperatures (160*F to 212*F), is sufficient enough to kill most bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Thermometers should be used to check to see if internal temperature of meat is sufficient. (FDA(Food),2001)
The following chart shows sufficient temperature that food should be cooked to kill foodborne illness causing bacteria.
(chart available in print form)
Combat Cross Contamination
The only way to prevent cross contamination is to avoid contact of raw foods that need to be cooked or food that is eaten raw that haven’t been cleaned.
Separate raw food in shopping cart and in your refrigerator.
Use separate cutting boards if possible. One for raw meat products and one for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Don’t place cooked food, on plate that previous held raw meat.
Use sealed containers or plastic sealed bags to store raw meat.
Never use or taste sauce that was used to marinate raw meat unless it has been boiled.
Pathogen bacteria in food can double in number every 30 to 40 minutes, increasing your chance of contracting a foodborne disease. Keep all perishables in refrigerator.
Refrigerate food quickly
Set refrigerator no higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 0 degrees Celsius.
Refrigerate or freeze perishables prepared food, and leftovers within 2 hours.
Marinate food in refrigerator.
Don’t pack refrigerator, cold air needs to circulate to keep food safe.
Use coolers full of ice at family outings or barbecues for perishable foods.
Never thaw foods at room temperature. Thaw in refrigerator or immersing in cold water, change water every half hour. (FDA(Food),2001)
This chart gives short but safe times to keep refrigerated food from spoiling. The times are modest as to maintain foods texture and flavor. They would still be safe to eat if kept longer.
(charts available in print form)