Staying safe with food

Did you know that September is National Food Safety Education Month? Food safety is important not only for large production kitchens like Open Arms, but for all kitchens, including yours!

Keeping food safe from bacteria is an important part of preparing and cooking in the kitchen. Bacteria can harbor on food that isn’t prepared properly, which means you could get a foodborne illness. You can’t always tell when a food is contaminated though–bacteria can’t be seen by the naked eye. To reduce your risk of foodborne or food-related illness, follow these easy tips for staying safe in the kitchen.

  • Wash your hands. Did you know you can cut your chances of a foodborne illness in half when you wash your hands correctly? Wash with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds–just sing the ABCs twice! Scrub the front and back of your hands and use a nail brush to get under your fingernails. Rinse well and use a clean paper towel to dry your hands. Use the paper towel to turn off the sink.
  • Store food properly. When food is left to sit out, it is the perfect temperature for bacteria to start growing. Store perishable food in the refrigerator between 32-40 degrees F or in your freezer at 0 degrees F. If food has been sitting out on the counter for more than 2 hours, throw it out!
  • Avoid cross-contamination. If your surface or utensil has touched raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs, be sure to wash it completely before moving to the next step. Just like when washing your hands, be sure to use hot soapy water to clean cutting boards, knives, pots and pans before touching them with ready-to-eat foods like bread or vegetables. Throw away old cutting boards that have excessive cuts or scratches in them–bacteria can live in those small spaces too.
  • Cook food completely. You risk foodborne illness when you eat food that is undercooked. To ensure all bacteria is cooked out of your food, cook
    • Steaks and roast to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F
    • Ground meats to 160 degrees F
    • Poultry to 165 degrees F
    • Fish until 145 degrees F
    • Eggs until firm
    • Reheated leftovers to 165 degrees F
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