Food Safety 101: An Essential Guide to Raw Food Handling
A lot of food poisoning cases arise from the improper handling of raw meat or other raw food items. This guide is to help you prevent such cases in your kitchen. Invaluable to any aspiring chef, these easy tips and tricks go beyond simple cleanliness and can easily be learned by anyone. You have probably read about people developing all sorts of illnesses due to bacteria from raw meat. It has been reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) that 76 million people in the US become ill due to harmful bacteria from food. Bacteria multiplies fast on raw meat at room temperature. It is essential to store meat in the refrigerator or freezer the moment you bring it home. If this is not possible then the meat should be cooked immediately.
Cleaning the kitchen or cooking area as well as utensils, dishes, knives, cutting boards or any item that will come in contact with the raw meat is essential. Kitchen counter tops must be scrubbed with hot soapy water and disinfected regularly. Cross-contamination from other sources should also be prevented. I recommend you use different cutting boards for meat and fruits or vegetables to avoid the spread of bad bacteria.
More On Avoiding Cross-Contamination
After handling meat with your bare hands, do not touch any other food. Wash your hands properly with anti-bacterial soap. If you use dishwashing gloves to handle meat, be sure to wash the gloves after use.
Beware of Drippings
Do not allow drippings from the raw meat to contaminate any part of your kitchen as it greatly increases the risk that bacteria from those drippings could be harmful. Be sure to clean up and disinfect the area.
A Clean Canvas
On surfaces where you handle food, spray vinegar on your kitchen counter top and floor, then use baking soda on any stubborn stains. However, do not use this combination on counters or surfaces that are made of calcium-based stone like limestone, marble or calcite. The vinegar may damage the surface. You can use soap and water on those areas instead.
You can also use vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to disinfect raw meat, fruits and vegetables inexpensively. Food scientist Susan Sumner from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University concocted a recipe for this combo. She recommends 3% hydrogen peroxide and plain white or apple cider vinegar to spray fresh food like apples before storing them. Before cooking, make sure to rinse the food under running water.
Meat should be cooked thoroughly. Invest in a meat thermometer to make sure that the correct minimum temperature is reached in order to kill bad bacteria. The USDA recommends the following safe minimum internal temperatures:
• Steaks & Roasts – 145 °F
• Fish – 145 °F
• Pork – 160 °F
• Ground Beef – 160 °F
• Egg Dishes – 160 °F
• Chicken Breasts – 165 °F
• Whole Poultry – 165 °F
Cooked meat should be eaten at once or stored in the refrigerator. Do not allow meat to be left in an open environment. Cover the dish or place inside airtight, clean containers until it is ready to be served.
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My passion is to help you live your healthiest and most harmonious life, but in a way that’s realistic and practical for you as a unique individual on this planet. My philosophy is all about “balance,” never a diet since a diet is not sustainable for life, aka Kill The Diet.