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Play It Safe in the Kitchen

Rachel Preble, Dietetic Intern Bay Pines VA Health Care System

Eating should be a pleasurable experience. There’s nothing worse than coming down with a nasty bug after enjoying your favorite meal. September is National Food Safety Education Month, so today I will be sharing some tips to prevent foodborne illness. When most people think about healthy eating, they only think of the quality or the type of food they’re consuming. However, how you prepare and handle food is an often overlooked. Below are some tips to help you handle food safely to prevent foodborne illness and keep you and your family healthy!

Keep it clean:

  • No need to wrestle with that whole chicken in the kitchen sink! Wash fruits and vegetables before peeling, but do not wash raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
  • This may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure to always wash your hands with soap before and after handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Slow down there! Thoroughly wash, rinse, and sanitize all surfaces that come in contact with raw meat, poultry, fish, and eggs before moving on to the next step in food preparation.

Don’t cross-contaminate:

  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for fruits and vegetables and for raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
  • No need to be frugal – throw out marinades and sauces that have come in contact with raw meat juices. It may seem wasteful, but using these ingredients after they’ve come in contact with raw meat is never a good idea.

 
Keep it hot:

  • Use a food thermometer to make sure that delicious, home-cooked meal of yours is safe to eat. Reaching hot enough temperatures ensures there won’t be any harmful bacteria:
  • Poultry: 165 ° F
  • Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (ground): 160 ° F
  • Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (chops, roasts, and steaks): 145 ° F
  • Fish: 145 ° F
  • Sometimes the best part of your homemade meal or that family barbecue you attended over the weekend is that you get to later feast on the leftovers! However, make sure the leftovers are reheated to at least 165° F before serving again.

Keep it cold:

  • Set your refrigerator between 40 ° F and 32 ° F, and your freezer to 0° F or below. Brrr!
  • Refrigerate produce you have cut, peeled, or cooked within 2 hours. Make sure these items are kept at 40 ° F or colder in a clean container.

Shop smart:

  • When grocery shopping, grab your fruits, veggies, dairy, and dry goods first, and then pick up meat, poultry, and seafood last.
  • Keep meat, poultry, and seafood separate from other food in your shopping cart and grocery bags.
  • Be picky. Choose produce that is not bruised or damaged.
  • When selecting pre-cut produce, make sure it is refrigerated or kept on ice.
  • For more information check out the websites below.

    https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/foodborne-germs.html

    https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-