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Ways to safely prepare food and avoid bacteria

Knowing how to safely prepare food is important in reducing your risk of getting foodborne illnesses such as Salmonella and being exposed to bacteria such as E.coli. Here are a few food hygiene tips to help keep you and your family safe.

Buying packaged food

The first step in food safety is to always check the expiry date on packaged food. You should also ensure that your packaged food is sealed properly and that cans of food aren’t dented or bulging in any way. When buying eggs always check to see that none of the eggs are cracked.

Storing food

Make sure that you put your perishable food away as soon as you get home from the grocery store. Your perishable food shouldn’t be left outside of the refrigerator for longer than two hours. When dealing with food that needs to be frozen make sure that you only thaw it out on the day you’re going to cook with it.

You should never refreeze food once it’s already thawed and it is safest to thaw your food out in the refrigerator and not on the counter.

Make sure to check the use by date and how long a particular food product will be edible for after opening the package. Raw meat, even when properly packaged, should always be placed in a sealed plastic bag before storing in the fridge to ensure that the juices don’t leak out and contaminate your fridge and other food items.

You should also always refrigerate eggs. Do not leave them out at room temperature for longer than two hours. They should be kept on a shelf in the main compartment of the fridge and not in the door.

Dry foods such as flour, cereals, rice, sugar and spices should always be properly sealed to avoid disease-carrying pest contamination and the growth of bacteria due to moisture.

The nose knows

Trust your nose. If you open the packaging of any perishable item and it doesn’t smell or look right it’s best to be on the safe side and throw it out.

Cleanliness

It is absolutely essential before you eat or prepare food that you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Take care to clean under your finger nails. You should also ensure that your kitchen counters are kept clean and disinfected and that your cooking and eating utensils are properly washed and dried. The same goes for your stove, oven, dishes and anything else food comes into contact with. It is imperative that you sanitise your cutting boards regularly.

Cats should never be allowed on your kitchen counters.

Make sure to wash or scrub your fruits and veggies to remove any pesticides, dirt or bacteria.

After handling any uncooked meat make sure to wash your hands to avoid the spread of bacteria and avoid cross contamination. Dry your hands with a clean dish towel.

Remember to use separate cutting boards, one board for meat and another for any other types of food. Replace them when they begin to show too much wear and tear.

Cooking your food

Take care to always cook all types of meat thoroughly. Chicken and pork especially should never be eaten raw. This also goes for eggs as these products may contain salmonella when undercooked. When using a microwave, check that the food is cooked evenly throughout.

You should always read and follow any cooking instructions on food packaging to ensure that your food is cooked properly.

While cooking, touch the food with your hands as little as possible and use a clean spoon each time you taste or sample the food.

Leftovers

Make sure to put any leftover food that you’d like to keep for the next day in the fridge as soon as possible, preferably within one hour, and ensure that that any perishable food that you take to work or school is kept cool.

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Written by Taryn Hill

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