I. SHOP WISELY
II. KEEP IT CLEAN♦ Plan your route"Shop for non-perishable food first," advises the Food Safety Information Council in Australia. "Leave [items from the fridges and freezers to the end of your shopping." Also, if you are buying hot food, pick it up just before you return home."
♦ Favor fresh food♦ Inspect your foodAsk yourself, "Is the skin on my produce intact? Is the meat free of unusual odors?" If the food is prewrapped, inspect the packaging. Damaged packages can allow poisonous bacteria to enter the food.Chung Fai, who buys food at a supermarket in Hong Kong says, "It is also necessary to check the expiration date printed on packaged food." Why? Experts warn that even if 'expired' food looks, smells, and tastes good, it can still make you sick.♦ Pack safelyIf you use a reusable shopping bag or plastic bin, wash it out frequently with hot soapy water. Carry meat and fish in separate bins or bags so they do not contaminate other food.Enrico and Loredana, a couple in Italy, shop locally. "That way, we don't have to transport food very far and risk spoilage." If it will take longer than 30 minutes to return home, put chilled or frozen foods into an insulated bag, or in some other way, make sure it is kept cool.
♦ Wash your hands
The Public Health Agency of Canada states that "hands spread an estimated 80% of common infectious diseases like the common cold and flu." So wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating, after using the toilet, and when you prepare a meal.
♦ Keep you kitchen clean
One study revealed that while the bathroom tended to be the cleanest place in the home, "the sites in the households that were contaminated with the most fecal bacteria were the sponge/dishcloths in the kitchen." Therefore, change dishcloths frequently, and use hot soapy water or disinfectant to clean kitchen surfaces.
Before produce is sold, it may have been contaminated by unclean water, animals, fecal matter, or other raw food items. Therefore, even if you plan to peel fruits or vegies, rinse them thoroughly to remove harmful bacteria.
♦ Separate raw meat
[For those who eat or use meat in their kitchen] To prevent the spread of bacteria, seal or securely wrap all raw meat, poultry, and seafood, and separate them from other food. Use a separate cutting board and knife for those foods, or wash your cutting board and knife thoroughly with soap and hot water before and after raw meat or seafood touches it. ♦ Rinse produce
III. PREPARE AND STORE FOOD CAREFULLY
♦ Do not thaw meat at room temperature
"Even though the center of the meat may still be frozen as it thaws on the counter," says the US Department of Agriculture, "the outer layer of the food could be in the 'danger zone', between 4C and 60C - temperatures at which bacteria multiply rapidly." Instead, thaw food inthe refrigerator, in a microwave, or under cold water in a package that will not leak.
♦ Cook thoroughly
According to the World Health Organization, "proper cooking kills almost all dangerous microorganisms." When cooking food, especially soups and stews, make sure that it reaches a temperature of at least 70C." Since it can be difficult to judge the internal temperature of some dishes, many cooks use a meat thermometer.
♦ Serve soon
Cooked food should not be left at room temperature for too long, so serve it soon, even immediately, to prevent spoilage. Keep cold food cold and hot food hot. You can keep hot meat in an oven set at approximately 93C.
♦ Handle extra food wisely
Serve food immediately and immediately after eating, store food that will be eaten soon in the fridge. Otherwise, packaging the food for better preservation and lower bacteria build-up for the freezer is a good idea.
IV. BE OBSERVANT WHEN EATING OUT
♦ Look around you
Are tables, tablecloths, utensils, and servers clean and tidy? If not, go elsewhere. In some countries, health officials routinely inspect and grade restaurants for cleanliness, and they post their results for the public to read.
♦ Beware of doggie bags
The US Food and Drug Association advises, "If you won't be arriving home within 2 hours of being served (sooner if temperatures are above 32C), don't take the leftovers home with you." If you have leftovers, go directly home after your meal and store them in the refrigerator.