Is your kitchen a danger zone? Discover the common risks and the answer to what is the best way to prevent poor food safety.
Every year, 1 in 10 people become ill from eating contaminated food. In addition, about 420,000 people die every year as a result of food contamination.
Considering how simple it is to practice proper food safety procedures, these numbers are staggering.
The problem is, however, that many people simply do not know how to prevent poor food safety. By educating yourself and your employees, you can help bring the number of food safety-related deaths and illnesses down.
So, what is the best way to prevent poor food safety?
Read on to find out!
We’re putting handwashing as number one for a reason: it’s the number one way to prevent foodborne illnesses.
The problem is, while many people do wash their hands, most don’t take the time to wash their hands properly.
When you wash your hands, use a good amount of soap, and wash them under warm water. Warm water helps to kill bacteria, so this is very important.
And, make sure you are washing your hands for the right length of time. Washing your hands for just a few seconds is basically like not washing them at all.
To properly clean and disinfect your hands, you need to wash them for at least 20 seconds. A good rule of thumb is to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice while washing.
Also, you need to make sure you are washing your hands at the right times. Washing your hands after using the bathroom is obviously a must.
But, you should also wash your hands if they’ve been in contact with someone else’s bare skin, or really, any dirty surface.
And, most importantly, always wash your hands after handling raw meats.
In the food safety injury, there is something known as the ‘danger zone’.
The danger zone refers to foods that fall within a certain temperature, and are therefore not safe to eat.
The temperature range for the danger zone is 41 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Foods that fall at temperatures between these numbers are at a higher risk for growing bacteria that could make someone sick.
The longer a food sits in the danger zone, the greater chance there is for bacteria growth.
In order to keep foods out of the danger zones, you should be monitoring them with thermometers regularly.
This is especially important for those who have catering businesses or who run buffet lines, as these foods can be especially susceptible to neglect, and therefore, danger zone temperatures.
Keeping track of all these temperatures can feel like a lot. Luckily, there are food safety templates out there that can help you stay on top of everything.
Food storage is one aspect of food safety that is often overlooked.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, you should always store them immediately after cutting them. As soon as a fruit or vegetable is cut open, it becomes more susceptible to environmental contaminants.
Placing fruits and veggies immediately in the fridge will help eliminate this concern.
Also, make sure you are storing food in the proper order.
Veggies and fruits should be on top, while meats and poultries should be on the bottom. This will prevent raw meats and poultries from dripping onto the fruits and veggies and contaminating them.
Many people think that a food’s texture and color are enough to determine if it’s safe to eat.
However, this is not the case.
The only way to determine if a food is properly cooked is by testing it with a thermometer, making sure it is out of the danger zone.
When cooking eggs, you should always ensure that both the white and the yolk are firm. When cooking food in a microwave oven, make sure it is properly covered, and that you rotate and stir it for even cooking.
If you are reheating sauces, soups, or gravies, always bring them to a boil before reserving.
Just as you need to make sure you are cooking foods at the right temps, so too do you need to make sure you are chilling them at the right temps.
First things first, periodically check to make sure your chilled foods are always at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
For meats, poultries, eggs, and seafood: refrigerate them within 2 hours of purchasing or cooking.
Also, many people thaw foods on the countertop, at room temperature. However, this is completely unsafe. You have three options for thawing foods:
1. In the microwave
2. In the fridge
3. In a pot of cold water
In order to ensure warm foods cool off quickly enough when storing, separate them into smaller portions and place them in shallow containers.
Rinsing your utensils is another important aspect of food safety that is often overlooked.
Cutting boards should be always be washed and sanitized after handling foods that are prone to bacteria, such as meats and poultries.
Also, if you can, opt for plastic cutting boards over wood ones. It’s much easier to wash bacteria out of a plastic cutting board than a wood one.
Knives also need to be washed periodically. Just like cutting boards, you should wash your knives after handling bacteria-friendly foods, like meats and poultries, and seafood.
Did you know that roughly 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies?
If you own a restaurant, there’s a high chance that you encounter someone with a food allergy on a weekly basis.
This means you need to be very diligent with training your staff in the right way to handle food allergies.
For example, if someone alerts you of an allergy as you’re about to serve them food, you cannot simply remove the food from the plate to fix the issue.
Foods can cause allergic reactions through anything they touch. This includes not only other foods, but also utensils, plates, and serving pans.
If someone has a food allergy, everything needs to be cooked and served using freshly washed supplies. This is the only way you can guarantee the allergen won’t come in contact with anything.
Now that you can answer the question, “What is the best way to prevent food safety?”, it’s time to put these tips to use.
As we discussed at the beginning of the article, food safety is a serious issue. Therefore, these tips aren’t really optional.
If you have questions about this article, be sure to drop us a comment below. Otherwise, be sure to check out our health section for more guidance on helping yourself and others lead a healthy life.