Food Safety At Home – Keys to Safer Food
Select the food you buy carefully
Food safety begins when we do our shopping.
Firstly, examine all food packaging carefully. Food in damaged packaging can be contaminated by micro-organisms. Similarly, food safety and quality may be compromised if the food has expired. Food that has turned mouldy may contain toxins that can cause health problems. Exercising care in food selection can reduce the risk of food poisoning.
- Buy your food from established and reliable retail establishments.
- Select food that has not passed its expiry date, as shown on the packaging.
- Do not buy chilled or frozen food that is displayed at room temperature.
- Do not choose canned food that is badly dented or bloated.
- Avoid food packaging that is torn, leaking or infested with insects.
- Do not buy food that has turned mouldy or rancid. It may be contaminated with harmful mycotoxins.
- Check that bottled products are tightly sealed.
Handling food and separating raw from cooked food
Raw food can contain dangerous micro-organisms, which can cause foodborne diseases. Cross contamination occurs when micro-organisms from raw food are transferred to cooked food, this is a common cause of food poisoning.
- Do not mix raw food with food that has already been cooked.
- Store raw meat, poultry and seafood at the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so that their juices do not drip onto other food. Ensure that they are tightly wrapped in plastic or are placed individually on separate plates.
- Use different cutting boards and utensils for raw and cooked food. If you only have one cutting board, always wash thoroughly with soap and hot water between uses.
- After cutting raw meat, seafood and poultry, wash the knives thoroughly before cutting other food.
Cook your food well
The family meal should be enjoyable and safe to eat. Cooking at high temperatures (above 75°C) will destroy most bacteria.
- Cook meat and poultry thoroughly.
- Do not cook food partially as this increases the risk of bacterial growth.
- Bring food like stews, soups and curries, to boiling temperatures when cooking.
- Keep hot food "hot". Serve food immediately after cooking. Food to be served hot should be held at 60°C or above to prevent bacterial growth and they taste better too.
Keep food at a safe temperatures
When it comes to food, there are two temperatures to keep in mind always - keep hot food above 60°C, and cold food below 5°C. As a general guide, keep hot food "hot" and cold food "cold". This is because bacteria multiply quickly in the temperature danger zone (between 5°C to 60°C).
- Do not leave cooked food standing at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- Reheat stored cooked food at temperatures above 75°C or bring them to a boil, to kill bacteria.
- Portion out excess cooked food after cooking and refrigerate quickly.
For more info, please click on to AVA’s website.