Food Allergy Basics
to the World
Health Organization (WHO), more than 200 diseases can be spread through
food. Foodborne illnesses affect millions of people every year. Because of
this, food safety is an important part of living a healthy life. No matter what
your diet looks like, a healthy lifestyle requires that food remain
uncontaminated and fresh.
Keep It Clean
clean kitchen is easy to achieve. However, upkeep has to be performed
regularly. Standing water and old food allow bacteria to spread. Therefore,
make sure to clean out your refrigerator regularly. You should also clean
dishes regularly—don’t let them sit in the sink for days on end.
and replacing sponges is one easy way to control kitchen bacteria. Ironically,
the tool we use to clean our dishes is often the one that spreads the most
bacteria. A wet sponge is an ideal place for bacteria to grow, as it is built
to trap moisture.
helpful tips include:
- cleaning sponges
by microwaving them for about a minute to kill bacteria
sponges that are old or worn
- never using an
old, wet sponge to clean dishes
also important to keep countertops clean and free of debris. Wipe down counters
both before and after cooking to keep bacteria at bay. All cooking utensils
should be cleaned and dried before use.
don’t forget to wash your hands before and after handling food. Washing your
hands before handling food keeps you from contaminating it with bacteria.
Washing your hands afterward keeps you from bringing any foodborne bacteria
Separate the Food Groups
Store different types
of food in different places. Meat, dairy, and produce should all be kept in
their own areas. Each have unique health issues associated with them. It’s
particularly important to separate any vegetables that are to be eaten raw. If
they pick up bacteria associated with meat and dairy, the contaminants will not
be killed in the cooking process.
Veggies are best kept
in the crisper section of the refrigerator. This separates them from meat and
It’s also important
to rinse vegetables thoroughly before eating. Scrub firm vegetables with a
clean brush that you use only for this purpose. Remove any bruised or damaged
Meat & Dairy
Keep meat and dairy in
separate areas. Contaminants from meat can affect dairy and vice versa.
Separating foods reduces the risk of spreading contaminants.
Utensils & Appliances
When you prepare
food, always use separate cutting boards for meat and vegetables to prevent
cross-contamination. Additionally, keep foods separate until it’s time to
combine them in your dish.
You should wash all
utensils used to prepare raw meat before they touch any other food. Cooked meat
should never be served with the same utensils used to prepare it.
Cooking Temperature and Storage
Bacterial growth can
be avoided by controlling the temperature of food. According to the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services’ online resource for food safety tips, FoodSafety.gov,
the bacteria that cause food poisoning multiply quickest between 40 and 1400
Don’t rely on color
or texture to tell you when food is done, but instead use a food thermometer to
ensure that food is properly cooked. Most fresh or ground meat and poultry
should be cooked to 145-1650 F. Food should be kept hot after
cooking—if food isn’t plated immediately, keep the temperature above 1490
F. Most common bacteria cannot survive at hotter temperatures.
Storing Cooked Food
After cooking, be
sure to store leftovers properly. Be smart about packaging and don’t forget to
refrigerate perishables. Bacteria can begin to grow in perishable foods within
two hours at room temperature. In warmer temperatures (such as during summer),
bacteria begin to multiply within one hour.
With that information in mind, FoodSafety.gov
states that all perishable foods should be refrigerated within two hours to
in the refrigerator or freezer is a must. A refrigerator should generally stay
around 340 F to protect food from going bad. Frozen food is usually
best preserved at around zero degrees Fahrenheit, if possible. All frozen foods
should be thawed in the refrigerator or microwave and not on the kitchen
countertop. Additionally, any food that is thawed in the microwave should be
Bacteria can grow in
food without showing any outward signs, meaning you can’t always tell if
something has spoiled just by smelling or looking at it.
Not sure if your
leftovers are still good? Check out the food storage
timetable at FoodSafety.gov for tips.