News headlines have been filled with stories of folks getting sick due to problems with food so safe food handling has to be a concern for all of us. Whether you're the family cook or not, these 10 tips for keeping your food and meals safe must be of interest to you. After all, a quick trip to the emergency room for a case of food poisoning is a bummer of any idea.
Tip 1: it seems pretty obvious that we need to wash our hands before we start cooking and chopping. You may or may not wash for 20 seconds but probably you're aware of the need for clean hands. Dry them with a paper towel instead of a much-used dish towel. Our tip sheet says that we should even use paper towels to turn the handles on the faucet off and on but I have to confess that I don't do that. What about you?
Tip 2: cooking surfaces need to be cleaned, too. Chlorine bleach is a good cleanser because it kills just about everything but if you use it make sure that you use a bleach that won't discolor your clothing. All it takes is a little splatter to leave white spots all over your favorite outfit! I personally use Murphy's oil soap and/or vinegar to clean just about everything.
Tip 3: have you ever open your refrigerator door and been greeted with a gagging smell? Since I eat virtually no meat I eat a lot of beans and they can smell unbelievably horrid when their prime is past. So keep your refrigerator cleaned out of little green fuzzies.
Tip 4: all kinds of little nasties will hide in the refrigerator if we're not careful. It's easy to spill food and, even in the colder temperatures of a refrigerator, we will grow some pretty nasty looking stuff.
Tip 5: wash your vegetables and fruits before eating them even if you think there are already clean. I soak veggies in vinegar water before I use them.
Tip 6: make sure all the different kinds of food in your refrigerator are separated. I was in the kitchen of a brand-new bride and discovered she had stored raw chicken with carrots. Foods spoil at different rates and the chicken will go bad long before the carrots will so she was just wasting money as well as risking carrot-contamination.
Tip 7: my mother cut her hands and fingers multiple times when I was growing up. A couple of times the cuts were so bad we had to go to a doctor or even the emergency room. How did she do this so often? It's because she always held food in her hands and cut towards herself . Watching this gruesome scenario growing up I became obsessive about using a cutting board. To keep your food safe keep that cutting board extremely clean or even use different boards for different foods. For instance, if you cut up the raw chicken mentioned above clean that board seriously before then putting raw carrots on it. Meat is much more dangerous than vegetables or fruits, meaning it has a lot more bacteria that can get into your other foods.
Tip 8: I admit that I don't do this regularly but for perfect safety use a food thermometer. That way you will know that your meat is properly cooked and that it remains at a correct temperature while waiting to be served and eaten.
Tip 9: reading Tip 8 above, you might wonder exactly what those safe temperatures are? This tip will explain what you need to know.
Tip 10: there are several mystery short stories about nefarious people murdering others with unsafe mayonnaise. So using thermometers and proper refrigeration will make sure that you don't accidentally poison yourself or a loved one or friend.
Safe food handling is a bit more trouble than being careless but it can pay huge dividends so make sure you know the basics.