September is National Food Safety Education month—a time to educate people on food safety and handling best practices.
Everyone has to eat, and cooking at home saves money and can be better for your long-term health. That being said—many Americans are unaware of basic food safety practices. Whether you’re new to cooking or have been a home cook for many years, the tips below for food prep, cooking, and cleanup will help prevent unwanted food-borne illnesses such as e. coli and salmonella.
Proper food preparation is vital in ensuring your meals are safe to eat. Always wash your hands before handling food products, and separate raw meats and poultry from other foods. For example, you should keep any uncooked meat, seafood, or poultry separate from ingredients that have already been cooked or fresh ingredients like salad greens.
When cooking meat, poultry, or seafood, it is vital that they are heated to a safe internal temperature. When these proteins are cooked to a safe internal temperature, the heat kills many harmful bacteria that can cause food-borne illnesses. A meat thermometer is the easiest way to ensure your meat, seafood, and poultry reach a safe temperature. If you are curious about safe minimum internal temperatures, visit https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/safe-minimum-internal-temperatures.
Practicing proper cleanup will help ensure your work surface is disinfected and that any food you have made does not become contaminated. You should wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after cleanup—especially if you have been handling raw meat, poultry, or seafood. You should also wipe down any kitchen surfaces used in the cooking process with a disinfectant. Wiping down your surfaces will help kill any remaining bacteria left behind by cutting boards or other materials used to prepare raw proteins. Finally, it is essential to store any leftovers from your meal safely. Leftover food should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge no more than two hours after you finish cooking (source: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/education-month.html).