How to Handle Food Safely
Food is a body’s fuel and is also a simple way to satisfy you. However, food can sometimes cause your body to react in ways that you don’t want it to, and make you feel horrible. This is usually due to food being improperly cooked. Understanding how to handle food safely by knowing basic food safety, food safety temperature, and what causes food poisoning can help prevent food-borne illnesses.
Basic Food Safety
When preparing food, it’s important to remember four principles:
When preparing food, the area in which the food makes contact with should be clean. This includes sanitizing the area of any contaminants such as raw meats or chemicals.
It’s also important to wash your hands before and throughout the cooking process. Clean hands avoid passing germs to foods and washing in between cutting various foods prevents cross contamination between cooked and uncooked foods.
Keep uncooked food away from coked food to prevent cross contamination. For instance, never cut up lettuce for a salad on a cutting board where cutting raw meat. It’s best to always use two separate cutting boards for uncooked and cooked foods because even when washing some cutting boards (especially wood ones) still harbor dangerous germs.
Foods should remain chilled until ready for cooking. If meats are left on a counter at room temperature, bacteria can develop, which may not be destroyed with cooking.
All foods should be cooked thoroughly. Heating foods to a certain temperature ensures germs are killed.
Food Safety Temperature
Foods should have its temperature taken before consumption. The thermometer should be specially made for foods. Many of them will have indicators on them for what temperatures certain foods should reach. Simply place the thermometer in the food so the end of it hits the center. If cooking bone-in meats, never place the thermometer in a way in which is touches the bone because it will then read the bone’s temp, which is always higher than the actual cooked meat. It’s also important to take the temperature in more than one place to ensure the food is cooked through evenly.
To ensure foods are cooked completely, keep the following guide handy in your kitchen when cooking.
- Ground Meat (beef, pork, veal, lamb): 160 degrees
- Fresh beef, veal, lamb: 165 degrees
- Pork and ham: 145 degrees
- Eggs: Yolk and whites are firm
- Leftovers: 165 degrees
- Casseroles: 165 degrees
- Seafood 145 degrees
While many people enjoy foods cooked to below these temperatures, it is not advised to do so. Anyone consuming undercooked food is increasing risk of suffering from a food-borne illness.
What Causes Food Poisoning?
Bacteria are what cause food poisoning. When meats, eggs, and seafood are left at room temperature it begins to breed bacteria. When foods are uncooked, bacteria naturally found in meats are not destroyed, and our bodies are unable to process it.
When you eat food with harmful bacteria, your body sees it as a foreign body entering. The immune system goes into action to fight it from harming your body. If the immune system is unable to keep the bacteria from spreading throughout the body, the result is your stomach begins hurting, suffering from gastrointestinal issues, and/or nausea/vomiting.
Some people do not suffer illness when eating undercooked foods because there’s a chance the bacteria was destroyed. It’s also possible their immune system is strong enough to fight the bacteria.
How to Protect Against Food Poisoning
Preparing food yourself is the best way to ensure that it was done correctly. Cooking food until it’s well done also decreases your chances of suffering food poisoning.
If you are eating at a restaurant or someone else is cooking your food, request meats well done. Avoid ordering egg based meals if you don’t trust the handling of them, and never eat at an establishment with a history of bad food preparation.
Food poisoning can make you extremely ill to the point of needing to go to the hospital. It’s not a pleasant experience, so do your best to avoid it as much as possible. And then you need to consider:
What To Do With Food In Times of Weather Emergencies?
Being prepared is a must if you can possibly manage it before a weather emergency hits, particularly if you live in its projected path.
Perhaps you could consider these Emergency Food Ideas
Do your research to see where you could buy dry or block ice just in case you power goes out for extended time periods, possibly even days.
Purchase an appliance thermometer specifically to put into your freezer and refrigerator. This type of thermometer is used to monitor the temperature of the food in your refrigerator. The ideal temperature of refrigerated food should be equal to or less than 40° Fahrenheit. Equal to or less than 0° Fahrenheit for a freezer.
Be mindful to keep the fridge closed as much as possible so it will remain cold for as long as it can. Usually for around 4 hours for a well maintained or new refrigerator.
Do the same with your freezer to allow it remain cold for the maximum period of time possible. Under these conditions a well maintained, full freezer of food can stay cold for up to 48 hours.
Other Ways to Store Food Safely
- Perhaps store foods at a level flood waters are less likely to reach
- Freeze different foods together to keep the food colder for a longer period of time
- Freeze leftovers
- Keep coolers on hand
- Calculate the fastest route to your local ice merchant so you can buy dry or block ice in times of emergencies
- Consider purchasing a back up generator of sufficient capacity to at least run a refrigerator and/or freezer to use during whether emergencies. These can be purchased at your local department store and finally:
- Consider buying a single burner butane stove that runs on butane canisters to ensure your food is cooked to the correct temperature. Rather than run the risk of eating under cooked or under heated foods. These stoves can also be purchased at local department stores.
During times of whether emergencies if you are at all concerned about the viability of the food you perhaps need to ask yourself the following questions:
- What condition is the food or its packages in?
- What is the current temperature of the food?
- Is this food safe to eat?
- Is it worth the risk to your health if you prepared and ate this food?
Many health authorities would say to you, “if in doubt, throw it out.”
Think Food Safety and How to Handle Food Safely
Food safety is the best policy and keeping you and your loved ones well and safe before, during and after a whether emergency.
Please click on this link how to handle food safely for food storage charts or any other food safety information you may need so you can monitor your food safely throughout a weather emergency.
All the very best to your health so you can handle food safely
The TIWYH Team