The Basics Of Food Safety

Jul 30, 2018 | Cooking Tips

I saw an article yesterday titled “Do Canadians know enough about food safety? Survey says no.”  The article talks about how “Canadians are becoming less aware of how to safely handle and prepare food…” This is startling but also not that surprising. Too many of us have become so disconnected from our food that it only makes sense we would also become disconnected from safe food handling practices. And so today’s post is all about The Basics Of Food Safety.

When we talk about food safety the focus is on the prevention of food-borne illness.

When we talk about food safety the focus is on the prevention of food-borne illness. Food-borne illness can be food poisoning, it could be getting E.Coli from unwashed vegetables, or it could be an illness caused by food contaminated with cleaners or metals. It really covers a broad spectrum. The idea is prevention.

We’ve all heard about E.Coli on lettuces and even recently salmonella in cheese crackers. It can be scary reading these headlines and knowing that there’s not really a lot an individual can do to prevent this. What you can prevent is in home contamination and mitigate the spread of bacteria.

We often think of food safety only really being important when it comes to meat. But really vegetables, because they are often eaten raw are just as likely if not more likely to make us sick. When it comes to vegetables washing them thoroughly is always a good idea. Make sure that any counter surfaces or cutting boards that come in contact with raw food, meat or vegetables, is washed and sanitized. And make sure that raw or cooked vegetables don’t come into contact with raw meat.

95% of all food-borne illness is caused by microorganisms.

95% of all food-borne illness is caused by microorganisms. First of all, we are surrounded, covered, and filled with microorganisms. Some are bad and can make us really sick, but a lot of them are good. Obviously, we want to prevent the spread of bad microorganisms. So, how do we do this? Cleanliness is a good place to start. Wash your hands before and after handling food. Make sure work surfaces are cleaned with hot soapy water and sanitized with a chemical sanitizer.

Temperature is an important factor in the prevention of food-borne illness and food safety in general. Between the temperatures of 5°C-60°C or 41°F-135°F is considered the temperature danger zone. Within this temperate range bacteria growth is optimized. Imagine you have a pot of stew that you leave out on the counter. Every 20 minutes or so the number of bacteria on the surface of the stew will double. That doesn’t sound too crazy but if you had 1 bacteria which doesn’t happen, by the end of four hours you would have 598, 824 bacteria. That’s why it is highly recommended that cooked foods be left out to cool for a maximum of two hours.

This doubling in bacteria growth is also why foods should not be defrosted at room temperature. If you leave a chicken on the counter to defrost, by the time the whole thing is defrosted, the surface will be contaminated. Defrost foods, in the fridge. If you need the food item in a hurry defrost it under cold running water.

Temperature is also obviously important when cooking. Foods can contain parasites that can make you sick. Cooking to the proper temperature is very important. This Link will take you to a Canadian Government website that you will show you a chart about the government recommended cooking temperatures for foods.

This may all seem fairly complicated, but here is the just of it. Keep everything clean. Wash vegetables. Cook things to the proper temperature. Don’t let cooked foods sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Defrost foods in the fridge. Don’t let cooked foods come into contact with raw foods, and don’t let raw vegetables come into contact with raw meat. Just as a reminder, keep everything clean.

Some of you are probably thinking that you have left pizza out overnight, or pots of soup and not gotten sick. Sure, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen or can’t happen. It just means it hasn’t happened yet. Elderly people, children, pregnant women, or sick people are especially susceptible to food-borne illnesses. So, just because you’re not getting sick because you’re healthy, doesn’t mean you aren’t going to make someone else sick.




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