Easy New Year’s Resolutions to Be Food Safe
By Howard Seltzer, National Education Advisor, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration
At the start of a new year many people think about what needs to be changed to make their lives happier and healthier and resolve to make the changes. Some changes people settle on are so big and difficult, like losing 40 lbs. or training for a marathon, that they’re forgotten in the press of work, family responsibilities, etc. But a resolution to take the small, simple steps to be food safe in the new year isn’t thSo, here are a few suggestions for resolutions to help eliminate foodborne illness from your and your families’ lives.
Clean: Resolve to wash your hands before, during and after handling food. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, handwashing has the potential to save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention. To do it effectively, wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold) and apply soap. Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well for at least 20 seconds. Air dry or use a clean paper towel.
Separate: If you only have one cutting board, resolve to get another to help avoid pathogens from one food migrating to another, or cross-contamination. Use one for foods that will be cooked, such as meat, poultry, and seafood, and the other for foods like fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw. That way the raw foods won’t be contaminated by the juices from the ones to be cooked. If you do get a new cutting board, get one that’s dishwasher-safe. The very hot water and strong detergent typically used in dishwashers can eliminate a lot of bacteria.
Cook: Only a food thermometer can make sure meat, poultry, fish and casseroles are cooked to a safe internal temperature—hot enough to kill any pathogens that may be present.
Chill: Similarly, resolve to get an appliance thermometer to be sure your refrigerator is at or below 40ºF. Between 40ºF and 140ºF is the Danger Zone when bacteria multiply rapidly. The more bacteria, the more likely someone will get sick. Most refrigerators have just a colder/warmer adjustment, so the only way to know the temperature is to put a thermometer inside. And it’s a good idea to put one in the freezer to be sure the temperature is 0ºF or below.
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