September is National Food Safety Education Month
September is National Food Safety Education Month. Foodbourne illness affects about 1 in 6 Americans each year and can be very serious, with an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths annually. Bacteria and viruses are the most common type of food poisoning. However, the good news is that it is easily preventable. Private Home Care encourages you to take an active role this month in preventing food poisoning by educating yourself and others and implementing important, yet simple, food safety measures.
Why is food safety so important? As the Greek physician Hippocrates said “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” Food safety is the foundation of nutrition, and nutrition is essential for a healthy and high quality life. Private Home Care is dedicated to promoting healthy practices, which includes keeping people safe from foodborne illnesses.
Thankfully, many cases of food poisoning do not require hospitalization. Anyone who has had it can tell you that it is not at all a pleasant experience and often people have to miss work or school due to illness. Consuming dangerous foodborne bacteria will usually cause illness within 1 to 3 days of eating the contaminated food. However, sickness can also occur within 20 minutes or up to 6 weeks later. Symptoms of foodborne illness can include: vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain – and flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, and body ache.
‘CSCC’ (Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill) are four key steps to remember when keeping you and your loved ones safe from foodborne illness in the kitchen.
-Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before cooking and after using the bathroom, handling pets, or touching raw meat.
-Wash cutting boards, utensils, dishes, etc after using them with a generous amount of soap in warm water. In case of doubt, wash it in the dishwasher with a drying setting of ‘high temp’ or ‘sanitize’.
-Rinse ALL fresh produce thoroughly, scrubbing firm fruits and veggies with a clean produce brush and special produce soap. Even if your produce says on the package that it is rinsed, it is good practice to rinse it again at home.
-Wipe down or rinse cans or any packaged foods that have gotten dusty.
-Pat down or wipe preferably with paper towels, use kitchen towels only if they are freshly laundered.
-Separate raw animal products (such as meat, poultry, and eggs) in your shopping bag, grocery cart, and refrigerator.
-Use separate cutting boards for veggies, raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
-Never place cooked food on a plate or surface that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs unless the plate has been washed in hot, soapy water.
-Don’t reuse marinades used on raw food.
-Food must be cooked to the right temperature in order to avoid illness and kill off any germs, bacteria, or viruses. Contrary to popular belief, color and texture are actually unreliable indicators of safety. Using a food thermometer is the only way to ensure the safety of meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products for all cooking methods.
-Strive for eggsellence: Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm. Only use recipes in which eggs are cooked or heated thoroughly.
-When cooking in a microwave oven, cover food, stir, and rotate for even cooking. Always allow standing time, which completes the cooking, before checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer. This applies to all microwave products because even microwaved veggies may not be properly rinsed before being packaged and frozen, so they need to be cooked to destroy anything that could make you sick.
-Bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil when reheating.
-Always keep your cool: Use an appliance thermometer to be sure the temperature of the fridge is 40 degrees or below, and the freezer is 0 degrees or below.
-Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood,and other perishables within 2 hours of cooking or purchasing. Refrigerate within 1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90 degrees.
-Never thaw food at room temperature, such as on the counter top. There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.
-Once you have thawed frozen raw meat, poultry, or seafood, do not freeze again!
-Always marinate food in the refrigerator.
-Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator. If storing in plastic tupperware, it is best to wait until the food has cooled so as to not melt the plastic.