Be Food Safe
One of the most crucial elements for a healthy living is consuming food that is fresh, safe and salubrious. While there are ample ways to keep food safe, the fundamental is how do we manage our time in order to avoid food borne infection.
Generally, all of us avoid food safety until food borne illness, often called food poisoning impacts our acquaintances. Food borne illnesses are very common public health problem and are public health problem and are expensive proposition. The good part is food borne illnesses are preventable. Based upon various surveys, it has been found that every year, approximately 1 in every 6 Americans gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of food borne diseases.
Considering the above perspective, it’s critical for us to learn more about food borne illnesses and what we can do to reduce our likelihoods of getting sick. Two critical components are proper planning and principles of P3C2S.
Keeping the principles of P3C2S in mind, let’s shine some light on our daily practices which when followed religiously will not only be helpful in practicing hygiene but also keep us healthy and food safe.
PERSONAL HYGIENE: Personal hygiene begins at home, with the essential elements for good hygiene being a clean body, clean hair and clean clothing. Hair in food can be a source of both microbiological and physical contamination. Some common food borne pathogens includes bacteria and viruses and when infect they produce symptoms like acute GI illness, nausea, fever, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps that may reach us from contaminated food, raw meat and poultry, under cooked foods or from one infected person to another!
CLEAN: The use of gloves often creates a false sense of security but does not eliminate the need for hand washing and when necessary, sanitizing. Improperly used gloves may become a vehicle for spreading pathogens. Non disposable gloves should be washed before and after every use. Hands must be washed before putting on a new pair of disposable or non-disposable gloves. To avoid food born infection and illness “A good rule to follow is, when in doubt, throw it out.” Be wise, cook right & eat right amount of food. Clean hands, clean your working area, clean vegetables & fruit, wash working surface or food contact surface. The best way to prevent the spread of viruses to food is to ensure that hands are washed before handling food. Before and after handling food, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, called the Rule of 20 – taught when we were kids. Another important point is not to use the same cutting boards for both the raw & the cooked food unless thoroughly cleaned and avoid uncontrolled, uncovered coughing or sneezing in the cooking place.
COOK: Savour the flavour. The degree of doneness completeness should be detected by thermometer & not be guessed by the colour, as guesses are not reliable indicators. The core temperature is the right indicator. Cook till the right temperature is obtained. Roasts, chops, steaks & fresh ham should be kept for 3 minutes after removing from oven or grill and then you can serve the dishes. Besides the right temperature for cooking, amount of sodium in your food also manages the flavour that is why when shopping for ingredients compare labels to find lower sodium varieties. Use herbs and spices, like rosemary and cloves, to flavor dishes instead of salt or butter and go fresh, choose fresh fruit & vegetables as often as you can.Mark the difference between sell-by date, best before, use before and the expiration date.
As rightly said, It is difficult to believe that people are still starving in this country because food isn’t available. There are many in this world who spend sleepless night starving for food. So Be Generous! Be Wise! Be Food Safe!
PREPARATION: One of the riskiest things we all do when cooking is thaw or marinate food on the counter top. Bacteria grow quickly at room temperature. So never defrost meat & meat products on the counter top. Thaw it in the refrigerator itself. When in a hurry, you can thaw food in cold running water, or in the microwave. Thawing in Refrigerator involves leaving the product in original packaging. Leave the meat in original packing, place it in a clean & sanitized sink or pan and submerge it in cold water. Change the cold water every30 minutes. Do not refreeze. Only take out the portion you need for that moment.
Another challenge that mothers face sometimes is their children licking raw batter. As a principle, I do not recommend eating raw batter, and this is especially for children, older people, and people with not so good immune systems. Even more important is bread – if you observe mold on bread, throw out the whole loaf. There’s probably more than you can witness with your naked eyes. Some are harmless but others can make you sick. Molds on hard cheeses won’t cause any trouble as you can cut off an inch around and under the mold and eat the rest.
CHILL: Keep away harmful bacteria by refrigerating food quickly. Avoid time lag! Let’s also keep stock of “Safe temperature Zone” – above 40C and below 600C is the prime temperature zone for bacterial growth and is technically called dangerous zone. Keep the food away from unsafe zone unless mentioned. Additionally, one should follow the “5-second rule”: 5 seconds is long enough for food to pick up harmful bacteria.
STORAGE: Supermarkets are the first place where food safe principles should be implemented. Practice food safety at the time of shopping. Make a rule of checking storage before shopping, to avoid buying perishable items which if perished, can get infected by microbes and spread contamination. Refrigerate the leftover within 2 hours of preparation. If not using, wrap the leftover in airtight packaging, or seal it in storage containers. Placing the raw meat on top shelf will result into dripping on the food placed below. So always put raw meat and uncooked food raw meat on the bottom shelves. Furthermore, store maple syrup in the fridge to lessen the chances of yeast, bacteria, and mold. Ketchup and chocolate syrup will stay fresh longer in the fridge too. If all of ground beef has turned grey or brown and smells weird, it suggests the start of spoilage. But if only the inside is a little dull, greyish brown, no need to worry. Fresh-cut meat is purplish and turns bright red when it’s around oxygen. The inside of the meat might be greyish-brown because it hasn’t been near the air. Most canned vegetables, meat & fish will last a few years, as long as the can is in good shape and is stored in a cool and dark place. Tomatoes, pineapples, and other high-acid food can items will stay fresh for 12 to 18 months.
Toss the cans that are badly dented, rusty, bulging, or leaking.
SEPARATE: Raw & cooked food must be kept separate. Practice food safety by following some general Shopping tips such as always buy the frozen items at last, place & separate the meat item in
a separate bag, don’t mix ready to eat & ready to cook food, keep raw meat separate from other grocery items.
TWO CRITICAL COMPONENTS ARE PROPER PLANNING AND PRINCIPLES OF P3C2S.
First: Planning is a critical component – when, how and how much to cook and serve the same with love and not with bacteria. Serving little less delicious food is considered okay, with loads of love as topping then to give less safe food to treat our loved ones. Working women realize the pros and cons of proper planning.
Second: P3C2S helps to keep ourselves healthy by carefully handling, preparing and storing food, making us be food safe. I recommend the principles of P3C2S, an acronym to remember our duty and obligation to be food safe:
P – Personal Hygiene,
C – Clean,
C – Cook,
C – Chill,
S – Storage and
S – Separate.
It goes without saying that these principles work and are very helpful in reducing the risk and challenges associated with food borne illness.
By Rashmi K