Keep your home cooked meals both delicious and safe by following proper food safety precautions. You can significantly reduce your risk of foodborne illnesses in the kitchen by following these four simple tips:
1. Wash your hands often: Wash your hands prior to cooking to rid your hands of any germs, during cooking, and after cooking. Wash your hands during cooking if you have touched raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Wash your hands after cooking to remove any traces of the meal prepared. This very important step prevents the spread of any disease from one food item to another.
The proper handwashing method: With warm soapy water, sing the happy birthday song twice (about 20 seconds). Dry with a clean towel.
2. Keep raw and ready-to-eat foods separate: Especially important if the raw food item is meat, poultry or seafood. I use separate color coded cutting boards for meat, poultry, seafood, and fruits/vegetables. This way, I will never cross-contaminate my food!
3. Cook foods to proper temperatures: Heat kills many foodborne illnesses. You cant tell if a food item is cooked to the proper temperature by looking at it – use a calibrated thermometer for best accuracy and highest safety.
4. Refrigerate perishable foods promptly: Do not let leftovers cool on the counter for over 2 hours. To cool quickly, place food items in a wide shallow container or cut large pieces of meat into smaller pieces. Label your leftovers with a date and consume within a few days. If you are unsure if a food item is safe to eat, throw it away!
If you become ill, especially with a fever, contact your health care provider. It may be a foodborne illness or influenza for they often have similar symptoms.