Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross
Food & Nutrition
September is a great month for basic reminders on food safety for everyone.
I can’t stress this enough. Food safety affects everyone at any given time. Everyone shops, more people are involved in the food preparation process, and more people eat their meals away from home.
We all need to learn and practice food safety habits and correct handling of food. Here is a way to look at it: Be smart when it comes to food safety whether in your home, at church or any other place you might work with food. From the home cook to the commercial food worker, everyone should practice the four simple steps to food safety:
Clean: Wash hands and surface often.
Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate.
Cook: Cook to proper temperatures.
Chill: Refrigerate promptly.
Most of you have a good foundation of food safety knowledge and practice it, but there is still consumer confusion about cross-contamination. This confusion results in increased risk of food-borne illness. To avoid cross-contamination, always wash hands with hot, soapy water after handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, or fresh fruits and vegetables. You need to wash cutting boards, dishes, and utensils with hot, soapy water after they come in contact with those foods as well. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and the juices from raw foods away from other foods in your shopping cart, on kitchen counters, and in your refrigerator.
If possible, use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood. A solution of 1 teaspoon bleach in 1 quart of water may be used to sanitize surfaces and utensils. Once cutting boards become excessively worn or develop hard to clean grooves, you should replace them. Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw food without washing the plate or cutting board between uses.
When you are marinating foods, always marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Don’t use marinade for a sauce that was used to marinate raw meat, poultry or seafood on cooked food unless you boil it first. You can also reuse boiled marinades to marinate other raw meats.
When storing leftovers, remember to refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours or sooner in clean, shallow, covered containers to prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying. Here are some good food safety reminders for everyone:
Wash hands and surfaces often.
Wash hands with soap and hot water before and after handling food, and after using the restroom, changing diapers and handling pets.
Use hot, soapy water and paper towels or clean cloths washed often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
Food safety is everyone’s responsibility!
Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross is county extension director and extension educator in health and human sciences at Purdue Extension Elkhart County. Reach her at 574-533-0554 or firstname.lastname@example.org.