One of the more prevalent causes of food poisoning is improper handling of food by consumers at home.
Safe food handling is crucial to protect the health and well being of consumers, especially infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with immune-disorders. These people are more susceptible to food poisoning than normal healthy adults.
By observing some simple and good practices, we can prevent food from becoming contaminated as well as prevent bacterial growth and multiplication in our food.
1. Select your food carefully
2. Wash and keep clean
3. Separate raw and cooked food
4. Cook your food well
5. Keep food at a safe temperature
Wash your hands regularly
Thorough hand-washing with warm soapy water before, during and after handling food prevents bacteria from being transferred from our hands to our food.
Safe family meal
The family meal should be safe to eat. Cooking at high temperatures which are above 75 °C will destroy most of the bacteria.
1. Cook meat and poultry thoroughly. There should be no pink meat and the juices should run clear when pricked or sliced
2. Do not cook food partially as this increases risk of growth of bacteria.
3. Cook seafood thoroughly, especially if cooking for people with illness, pregnant women and older folks.
4. 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.
5. Reheat stored cooked food at temperatures 75 °C and above to kill bacteria
Food safety while Using Microwave
Bacteria will be destroyed during microwave cooking just as in other types of ovens, so food is safe cooked in a microwave oven. However the food can cook less evenly than in a conventional oven. Microwave cooking can be uneven just as with frying and grilling. So it is necessary to ensure that food is evenly cooked or bacteria may survive and cause food poisoning.
1. Watch out for cold spots in the food. Stir the food in between to ensure that whole dish is evenly cooked.
2. Use a covered dish. Arrange the food uniformly and add a little water. Under a cover, the steam formed will help destroy bacteria and ensure even cooking.
Food safety on Food storage
Keep cold food cold
Keep food outside of the temperature danger zone (between 5°C to 60°C), where bacteria multiply quickly. We can refrigerate cold food until serving time.
Keep dried food in cool, dry place
Dried and preserved food should be placed in a dry cool place or kept in refrigerator. Warm & humid conditions can cause dried food to go mouldy and rancid faster.
1. Nuts can keep better and longer in airtight containers when stored in a cool, dry place away from light.
2. Mouldy food should be discarded as it may contain harmful mycotoxins.
3. Transfer dried food that are bought loose or unused contents of opened packages of dried and preserved food to airtight containers.
4. Dried and preserved food that are to be kept for extended periods of time should be stored in packaging that does not allow entry of air or water vapor to prevent rancidity.
Handling cooked food
1. Cook just enough for the current meal.
2. If required keep the extra food in closed vessels.
3. Once cooked, take the required for consumption and place the remaining cooked food in refrigerator.