Leafy greens, lean meat, fresh fruit … they’re all part of a healthful diet. But even these nutritious foods can have a dirty little secret: harmful bacteria.
Safe food handling practices are an important, but often overlooked, component of a healthful lifestyle. After all, food can’t be nutritious if it’s not safe to eat, so it’s always a good time to talk about the steps to keeping your family foodborne illness-free.
The basics of safe food handling can be summed up in four words: clean, separate, cook, and chill. But it’s not enough to remember this mantra; you have to put it into practice. We’ve rounded up some quick food safety hacks to get you started:
Safe food is literally in your hands. Many people don’t take the time to thoroughly wash their hands before preparing food. Make sure to scrub with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.
Here’s a fun, simple way to make sure you scrub long enough to get the job done: Sing “Happy Birthday” (to yourself, please) all the way through twice as you wash.
Cutting boards are notorious spots for transferring bacteria. For example, if you cut raw chicken and then cut fresh produce on the same cutting board without washing it first, you’re transferring germs straight from the chicken to the fresh veggies. A simple way to avoid this problem is to keep two clearly marked cutting boards: one for meat and one for produce.
When your food thermometer is out of sight, it’s out of mind. You can’t tell when meat or poultry is properly cooked just by looking at it.
Only a food thermometer can ensure that your meat or poultry has reached a safe internal temperature. So don’t let your food thermometer become just another rusty relic at the bottom of your kitchen drawer. Keep it in a prominent spot next to the oven and/or with your grilling supplies.
An important part of the “chill” step is also knowing when to toss. Sure you remember to store your perishable food under 40° F, but different types of leftovers can be kept safely for different amounts of time. Also, you can’t tell if a food is safe just by how it looks or smells (remember: the “sniff test” does not apply to week-old pizza). Keep a cold storage chart on your fridge, so you know when to throw out your leftovers.
These tips are just scratching the (thoroughly cleaned and disinfected) surface. Keep a look out for more food safety hacks and facts @foodinsight and on www.foodinsight.org throughout the month of September.
MARCH 2016: Editor’s Note: “Marching” Toward Better Health • 3 Tips to “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” This National Nutrition Month • 8 Spices from Around the World • Future of Food, Part II: Serving Up Meat, Over Glass • Tip o’ the Mornin’ to You: Don’t Feel Green on St. Patrick’s Day (or Any Day)
FEBRUARY 2016: Editor’s Note: Future Foods, Coming to a Plate Near You • Future of Food, Part I: Food Innovations of Tomorrow • Why You Should Check Food Labels for Potential Allergens • Super Confused About Super Foods? An Educated Consumer Is a Healthy Consumer • How Librarians Prevent the “Dunning-Kruger Effect” • Citrus: Great Fruits for Heart Health
JANUARY 2016: Editor’s Note: Gold Medals and Silver Anniversaries • Feeling List-less? Then Check Out This Litany of New Year’s Food Trends • Happy 25th Anniversary, IFIC Foundation!: Serving Up Food Insights • A History of Communication: Insights from IFIC Foundation’s Sylvia Rowe Fellows
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015: Chew on This: A Food Technologist Puts Red and Processed Meat in Perspective • Understanding, Evaluating, and Communicating Nutrition, Part III: Research Funding • Training the Next Generation of Science Communicators, Part II • Achoo!: Food and Other "Prescriptions" for Surviving Cold and Flu Season • When Nutrition Gets Personal: Study Shows New Frontiers in Understanding Glycemic Response
OCTOBER 2015: Orphan Crops • Answering the Challenge of "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" • Weeding Through the Facts on Herbicide Resistance • Rainy Day in Nashville Fails to Dampen RDs' Spirits • Understanding, Evaluating, and Communicating Nutrition, Part II • Training the Next Generation of Science Communicators, Part I
SEPTEMBER 2015: 4 Clever Food Safety Hacks • Hashtags & Hyperbole • Understanding, Evaluating, and Communicating Nutrition, Part I
SUMMER 2015: What's Your Health Worth?, EXPO Milano 2015, "Single Study Syndrome"
MAY 2015: Future of Food (EXPO Milano), Grilling Tips, Food & Health Survey Webcast
APRIL 2015: Food & Nutrition Lessons from Mom, Microbiome, Flowers & Food Security
MARCH 2015: Chemophobia, Fitness Trackers, Dietary Guidelines 2015
FEBRUARY 2015: Farming Cocoa for Your Valentine’s Day Chocolate, At the Heart of Fats and Oils
DECEMBER 2014/JANUARY 2015: 2015 Food Trends Forecast, Gluten & Health, Life after PHOs
NOVEMBER 2014: A Very Southern Farm Tour, Diabetes Awareness, Turkey Safety for Thanksgiving
OCTOBER 2014: RDNs for Nutrition Expertise, Nutrition Behavior Profiles, Fall Food Days
SEPTEMBER 2014: Food Safety Month, Physical Activity & Obesity, Using Video for Education
AUGUST 2014: Back-to-School Nutrition, Pesticide & Health, Sustainable Nutrition
JULY 2014: Perceptions of Food Technology, Millennial Food Preferences, Introducing the FACTS Network
MAY/JUNE 2014: Food & Health Survey, Produce Safety, Summer Grilling Tips
APRIL 2014: ASN & Processed Food, "Banned Ingredients"
MARCH 2014: Nutrition is in Bloom - Changes to the NFP, Nutrient Adequacy, Trans Fat Q&A