As you set your New Year’s resolution I’m sure you didn’t include being food safe. How often does someone in your home have stomach related illnesses after a family gathering? Do you wonder if it was food poisoning from improper refrigeration, heating, or hand washing? Trust me, I do. I constantly preach to my friends and family about being food safe. So why not choose an additional New Year’s resolution that you can easily work on to prevent illness for yourself, your family and your friends. Think of all the money you can save on medical visits, stomach remedies, and vacation days that can be used for a real vacation (this can be money used for your budgeting resolution).
- Wash your hands before, during, and after preparing food. Use soap and scrub under warm running water for at least 20 seconds. I know you were taught to wash your hands when you were young, but sometimes we rush and forget the basics.
- If you are sick stay out of the kitchen. Don’t prepare food for others to eat and if you work in a food preparation field, stay home. Health Departments report that many foodborne illnesses are caused by workers who are ill.
- Use thermometers in the kitchen. It is very important to use a thermometer to check the temperature of meats when cooking. A few basics include: ground beef to 160 degrees F; poultry products to 165 degrees F; and fresh pork/ham, seafood, and fresh beef or lamb roasts or steaks to 145 degrees F. Use a thermometer in your refrigerator as well to ensure that the temperature is below 40 degrees F. You may want to place it in different areas to check temperatures – for instance some refrigerators have been shown to not adequately maintain temperature in the door storage area.
- Store leftovers properly. Leftover food should be cooled down in shallow containers (no more than 2 to 3 inches deep) within 2 hours of eating, freeze food for later use. If refrigerated, food should be reheated to 165 degrees F to kill foodborne illnesses before eating (great time to use that thermometer). After 3 to 4 days, refrigerated leftovers should be thrown away.
By setting just a couple food safety resolutions, you can have a wonderful and healthy year.
University of Connecticut Extension, Diane Wright Hirsch, http://blog.extension.uconn.edu/2014/12/30/10-food-safety-resolutions-for-2015/.
Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.
Reviewer: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.
Photo: CDC, Amanda Mills