No one likes getting sick, especially from something as preventable as food contamination. Approximately 1 in 6 Americans will suffer from food poisoning this year, and it is estimated that 3,000 will die. While some cases are unavoidable, you can take measures to decrease your chances of becoming a statistic. Here are some tips for avoiding food contamination in the kitchen.
Wash Your Hands Frequently
One simple and effective way to prevent food contamination is to wash your hands regularly, especially after handling raw meat or poultry. Raw meat and poultry can contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, which can cause food poisoning. Simply washing your hands with soap and water can remove these bacteria and help keep them from spreading to other surfaces or food.
In addition to washing your hands with soap and water, you should also sanitize them with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. If you don’t have access to soap and water, hand sanitizer can be a helpful substitute. However, it’s important to remember that hand sanitizer is not a replacement for soap and water; it should only be used as a supplement.
Wash Your Kitchen Tools and Ingredients
Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water, even if you plan on peeling them. Knives and other utensils can transfer bacteria from contaminated surfaces to clean ones, so it’s also essential to wash them thoroughly. It’s also a good idea to wash cutting boards, countertops, and other surfaces that come into contact with food. You should wash these surfaces with hot, soapy water after each use. You can also use a diluted bleach solution for extra protection against bacteria.
Repair Any Kitchen Damage
Water damage in the kitchen can create the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. Dampness can also lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which can cause severe respiratory problems. If you have any water damage in your kitchen, it’s essential to have it repaired as soon as possible. Water damage repair experts can help resolve the problem quickly and prevent further damage.
Some homes also have contaminated water which can lead to waterborne illnesses. It is crucial to have your water tested regularly and to take measures to ensure it is safe to drink. You can have your water tested by a professional or a home testing kit.
Cook Food Thoroughly
Undercooking food is one of the most common mistakes people make when preparing meals. Kill any harmful bacteria that may be present by cooking your food thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to ensure that meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs are cooked to a safe internal temperature. Raw meat and poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, while fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
You should cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm. It’s important not to rely on your sense of touch or sight when determining whether or not food is cooked; these methods are not foolproof. A food thermometer is the only way to be sure that food has been cooked to a safe internal temperature.
Practice Safe Food Storage
Storing food properly is another important way to prevent food poisoning. Harmful bacteria can proliferate in warm, moist environments. Ensure to refrigerate perishable food within two hours of cooking or buying it. You should refrigerate food within one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
When storing food in the fridge, keep it at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. You can use a fridge thermometer to check the temperature of your fridge. You should keep the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re ever unsure whether the food is safe to eat, it’s better to err on the side of caution and throw it away.
Keep Your Kitchen Clean
A clean kitchen is a safe kitchen. Bacteria can easily spread in dirty environments, so keeping your kitchen clean is important. Wipe down surfaces after each use, and mop the floor regularly. Wash dishes, silverware, and cooking utensils in hot, soapy water. You should also clean your fridge and freezer regularly.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to clean small appliances such as toasters and blenders after each use. These appliances can harbor bacteria, so cleaning them frequently is essential. Use cleaning products that are effective against bacteria, such as bleach-based cleaners, but be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using these products.
These simple tips can help prevent you and your family from getting sick from contaminated food. Just remember to wash your hands frequently, wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, and cook food thoroughly before eating it! If you have any concerns about the safety of your food, you can always contact a professional food safety expert for more information.