These ‘Core 4’ Principles are the building blocks to food safety prevention. Join the fight for food safety for all.
According to the CDC, 1 in 6 American’s become ill due to foodborne illness each year. As the fight to combat this issue wages on, there are specific measures we can take to protect ourselves daily. While foodborne illnesses will likely never be eradicated, utilizing the ‘Core 4’ principles of food safety remain a viable approach to limiting its prevalence.
Infectious bacteria can thrive anywhere within the kitchen. By placing an emphasis on hand, utensil, and surface washing, we begin to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Some easy to follow cleansing tips are:
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm running water before and after handling food or using the bathroom.
- Wash the surfaces of cutting boards, counters, dishes, and utensils after each use with warm, soapy water.
- Use paper towels to clean counters or spills as they soak. in potential contaminants, rather than spread them like cloth towels.
- Rinse or blanch the surfaces of fresh fruits and vegetables to rid of any dirt or bacteria.
Even if we wash our hands and surfaces consistently, we can still be exposed to dangerous illness-inducing bacteria by not properly separating raw meat, seafood, poultry and eggs. To avoid cross-contamination, we can follow these tips:
- Avoid placing ready-to-eat food on a surface that previously held raw meat, seafood, poultry, or eggs. An example would be: Placing your now grilled chicken on the plate you carried it to the grill with.
- Use separate cutting boards when preparing fresh produce and uncooked meats. This eliminates the spread of any bacteria either may be carrying to the other.
- Request or separate raw meat, seafood, poultry, and eggs in your grocery bags. This eliminates the spread of bacteria in the event there is an unsealed package.
- Always properly wash the surfaces exposed to these raw items under warm, soapy running water.
Regardless of how proactive we are with cleaning and separating, we still must ensure that we cook our food to the appropriate internal temperature. Undercooking may result in the survival of dangerous bacteria that could make us ill. Foodsafety.org recommends the following safe minimum temperatures:
- Steak/Ground Beef: 160F.
- Chicken/Turkey: 165F.
- Seafood: 145F.
- Eggs: Until the yolk and white are firm – For egg dishes warm until 160F.
Last yet not least, we must also learn to appropriately chill our food. Chilling is important because it decelerates the bacterial growth process. By mitigating this, it allows us to reduce the risk of contracting a foodborne illness. The following suggestions are encouraged:
- For starters: Always keep your refrigerator at 40F or below.
- Do not over-pack your refrigerator – proper airflow circulation is paramount.
- Refrigerate any meats, eggs, or perishables immediately upon return from the store.
- Do not allow raw meats, eggs, or fresh produce to sit out for more than 2 hours without refrigeration.
For more information, visit: http://www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/index.html