Food safety is the first premise of eating healthy. Nevertheless, too many people habitually disregard the basic principles of safely storing and handling food, exposing themselves to unnecessary health risks. In the vast majority of cases, foodborne illness can be prevented simply by consistently following a few sensible rules for preventing food contamination and degradation.
Making The Food Safe
The first step in making food safe for consumption involves basic hygiene. In order to avoid contamination, anything that comes into contact with the food needs to be kept clean during all the stages of food storage, handling, preparation, and consumption. Washing your hands with water and soap before handling food in any way is the simplest and, perhaps, the most important of precautions.
If a meal preparation consists of several distinct stages, involving different food types, it would be best to also wash your hands between stages. The same precautions should apply to containers and utensils: keep them clean, and wash them before reusing them on different food types, such as raw meat and cooked leftovers.
Wash Raw Vegetables
Consuming raw vegetables and fruits is certainly beneficial, but washing them first is a must. Also ensure that all uncooked food is not only clean, but reasonably fresh. Many raw food types spoil easily under inadequate storage conditions; always keep food in a cool and dry environment, preferably in covered containers, protected from microbial spores and pests; untreated animal products should always be refrigerated. Many consumers have chosen to shop at places like Whole Foods to get organic vegetables that aren’t treated with harmful chemicals like pesticides.When buying vegetables make sure to inspect each one thoroughly for irregularities like surface marks and off-coloring.
Cook Food Thoroughly
When cooking food, do it thoroughly, as prolonged heat exposure destroys most infectious agents and parasites; this is particularly important for animal products, such as meat, eggs, poultry, and fish. Freshly cooked meals should be kept hot and covered until ready to serve. Cooked food is highly perishable, and should never be stored at room temperature for more than a couple of hours; even refrigeration should not be counted upon for long periods of time.
Separate Storage Containers
Avoid storing different food types in the same container; from a health care perspective, cooked food and raw food are particularly incompatible, and prolonged contact between them can constitute a health hazard. You should also use separate kitchen utensils for raw meat (including here all animal-flesh products, such as seafood and poultry), raw vegetables and fruits, and cooked food; raw meat, in particular, is a potentially dangerous contamination source.
Thaw Frozen Foods
Frozen food of any kind should not be thawed at room temperature, as this can lead to microbial buildup. Using the refrigerator for defrosting may not be the quickest, but it is the safest method. Thawing in cold water can also work, but you should place the food in a clean container, rather than directly into the sink; never forget to change the water frequently. The microwave oven can also be used to defrost foods such as pasta and soups.
Prevent Foodborne Illness
Preventing foodborne illness is undoubtedly preferable to treating it, and habitually following these simple food safety precautions can have a major positive impact on your general state of health. Proper attention to the basic principles of safely storing, handling, and serving food will pay dividends for the rest of your life; always keep in mind that safe food is the starting point of any healthy diet.