Four Steps to Food Safety
Step 1. Wash your hands
When you work with the food you should wash your hands when handling food. Hands can carry harmful bacteria which can cause severe illnesses. The symptoms of foodborne illness are caused by bacteria; symptoms can show up in 20 minutes to six weeks after eating contaminated food. People can experience fever, diarrhea, vomiting, chills, stomachache, and pain. Therefore, it is important to follow the steps to wash your hands.
When you are washing your hands, you must follow steps to ensure food safety. Wet your hands with warm water and lather with soap making sure you scrub to remove any dirt, grime, and germs from your hands. Next, rinse with warm water and then dry your hands. Washing hands with soap and water should take at least 20 seconds. You should wash your hands before and after handling food, using the bathroom, after taking the trash out, when preparing different foods. Whenever you’re not sure, wash your hands.
Step 2. Separate food
It is important to separate foods when storing or preparing it to avoid any contamination of ready-to-eat food with raw meats. Therefore, separate poultry, eggs, meat, and seafood from ready-to-eat food or other foods when placed in the refrigerator. Also, when preparing food, you should use different cutting boards to separate raw meats from other foods. Restaurants usually have a color-cutting board to avoid contamination of ready-to-eat food such as fruits and vegetables.
Organize food in the refrigerator in a way where it does not cause problems for the items below them. For example, the one that could cause more harm if not handled properly should be the last in the refrigerator. On the top of the shelf, fruits and vegetables are placed. Second should be seafood and whole cut meats such as steaks, and fish. Thirds place ground meats and pork and lastly poultry.
Step 3. Cook
Cook and maintain food at the proper temperature to kill any microorganism that can cause a foodborne illness. You can use the order of the food in the refrigerator to become familiar with the cooking temperature. For example, poultry will be cooked at the highest temperature for being at the bottom of the refrigerator at 165 F internal minimum cooking temperature. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains will be cooked at a minimum internal temperature of 135 F, the lowest temperature for being on the top of the refrigerator.
The only way to know if you are cooking food at the right temperature is by using a thermometer. The food thermometer will ensure the safety of meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products for all cooking methods.
Step 4. Chill
All cold foods should be stored at 40 degrees or lower to prevent bacteria from growing. It is advised to have appliances with thermometers built in and if not have a thermometer to be placed inside the appliance. At the same time, your freezer should be at 0 degrees F. You should always refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, and other perishables within 2 hours of cooking or purchasing. However, if the temperature outside is 90 degrees or more then it should be within 1 hour.