Can you go a day without eating anything? Maybe for those who are having their diet, they can last a day with just water or any liquid. But I bet, at some point, their body will start craving for food. Food is a necessity for life. It is a basic human right.
It provides our body with enough energy to get through the day. Aside from the energy it provides us, it also gives us vitamins and minerals that strengthens our immune system to protect us from getting sick. As much as it is a vital component of our everyday life, it can also pose a threat to our health when not handled safely, that’s why food handling and preparation is something one should not take lightly.
Food safety is a joint responsibility among us to ensure that from the time when food is grown up to the time it is served for consumption, safety is an utmost priority. By this, we can be assured that only safe food reaches our tables and plates for our daily consumption. The achievement and success of the improvement in our food safety is only achievable if all sectors in each communty will observe proper sanitary and hygienic practices from food selection, preparation, storage and service.
Food safety should not be taken lightly that’s why here are some tips that you can use:
The 4 General Categories in Food Safety:
CLEAN: The food that we eat everyday is being prepared in the kitchen, so it is a given factor that the cleanliness be ensured in the area every time we prepare the food we are going to serve. From the time that we buy it in the market up to the time we reach our homes to store our food, we have to make sure that cleanliness is one of the priority.
- Always observe proper handwashing before cleaning any food item. Wash your hands using soap and running water and use a towel to dry your hands.
- Keep also the surfaces, utensils and everything that you use in the kitchen clean as often as needed.
- Use multiple chopping boards for chopping different food items (one for vegetables, one for meat, another for fish, etc.) to avoid contamination. After using the chopping boards, wash them with soap in hot water.
SEPARATE: The motto “One for all, all for one.” is NEVER applicable in the kitchen/when cooking. Just remember one key term: Separate. Separating ensures that there is no cross-contamination among food items.
- Separate raw food from cooked/ready-to-eat/instant food.
- When preparing to cook, use separate and clean utensils, containers and equipment.
- If possible, keep raw meat and poultry in a separate and sealed container before putting in the fridge.
COOK: Cooking food well ensures that bacteria/microorganisms present in the food items are destroyed, thus, making it safe to eat them.
- To ensure that the food is properly and thoroughly cooked, make sure that the temperature is right (i.e, for meats and poultry make sure that they are cooked until their core temperature reaches 75°C) to prevent survival of harmful bacteria.
- Before eating leftovers, make sure to reheat them to steaming hot with a minimum temperature of 75ºC is required. Improper heating/ Reheating leftover foods too quickly could let harmful bacteria/microorganism to survive which could make you sick.
- After cooking, serve the food immediately.
CHILL/STORING FOOD ITEMS AND/OR LEFTOVERS: Remember this golden rule: “When in doubt, throw it out!” When one is not sure of the time the food has been left, it is assumed that it is not safe to eat it anymore. Bacteria and microorganisms grow fastest in room temperature that is why it is important to chill/store it immediately to prevent spoilage.
- After sorting out what you have bought in the market, clean immediately those that needs to be kept in the fridge right away. The temperature of the fridge for cooling or storage option should be kept at or below 5ºC.
- Sometimes, during special occasions, there are leftovers. But before you keep the leftover, make sure that it has not been left out for more than 2 hours because if yes, it would be better if you’ll just keep it away to be safe.
- When preparing for a picnic or going shopping, remember to take a cooler bag/ cooler with you to help keep the temp low–will prevent bacteria to multiply.
- Keep food items covered and/or packaged in proper containers to protect it from any contamination.
Prevention will always be better than cure. Although one cannot guarantee a 100% safety in food handling and preparation, at least, with the use of some principles and guidelines, we can at least lower the risk of acquiring illnesses that are related with food contamination and/or food poisoning.