Home food storage safety is an absolute concern if you want to save money and provide your family with quality food.
When it comes to keeping your family happy and healthy that doesn’t just include preparing meals at home. There are some safety rules that need to be observed as you cook as well as when you store your foods. We were more than aware of that when we cooked as Community Kitchens groups, observing Food Safe Health standards to make sure we didn’t inadvertently spread disease to any of the participating families. They are simple enough to do and an easy habit to get into. Don’t forget to wear an apron as well. No sense playing with the cat and then preparing meals for the family.
Here are some tips on food storage and safety when cooking at home.
1. Start with a clean re-usable shopping bag. Use a separate bag for raw meats, poultry, and fish.
Complete instructions for keeping your reusable grocery bags and bins safe and free from harmful bacteria that may spread to other foods putting you at risk for food poisoning can be found here. Look for the Fridge and Freezer storage times, too.
2. Check the best before dates in the store and at home.
3. Avoid buying fruits and vegetables that are damaged, bruised or moldy.
4. Keep raw meats, poultry and fish apart from other foods in your shopping cart. Purchase at end of shopping. Refrigerate or freeze all foods that need refrigeration as soon as you get home.
5. Add cold or frozen food to your cart at the end of your shopping trip.
1. The first line of defense against spreading germs is hand washing. No matter what you are working with, always clean your hands between different food types as well as when they are visibly soiled. Using a nail brush is a great help but don't scrub until your skin is raw. Wear gloves if your skin is broken.
2. Washing your food also helps prevent the spread of germs. Wash fruits, vegetables and meats before preparing them. This removes any dirt and other substances that may have collected on your food between harvesting and shipping to the grocery store. If you are using canned ingredients, always wash the top of the can off under running water before opening it with a clean can opener
3. For raw meat, use a separate cutting board and keep juices contained on a cutting board or in the sink. Don’t use any other food in that prep area, including in and around the sink, until it is thoroughly sanitized with a kitchen sanitizer (use according to directions) or bleach solution.
Observe a separation of raw meats and fresh foods in your refrigerator and shopping cart as well. This can help avoid contamination of any kind, especially of foods that don’t need to be cooked.
4. When cooking your foods, make sure that they stay hot for the required amount of time. For instance, chicken must reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before it is considered cooked all the way through. For that reason, preheating your oven is recommended for even cooking. A food thermometer is a good investment to ensure all food is cooked safely but make sure you use it.
5. Use paper towels to wipe kitchen surfaces or change dishcloths daily to avoid the risk of cross-contamination and the spread of bacteria. Sponges are harder to keep bacteria-free so avoid their use on food prep surfaces.
Anything used for raw meat areas should be separated and disposed of properly to avoid further contamination. Sanitize or wash cutting boards in the dishwasher.
1. Do your best to observe the 2-hour rule. Place food in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking it. Or do a quick chill, placing the container of food over ice cubes in water, stirring frequently to get all the food chilled evenly as rapidly as possible. The longer food sits out, the greater the chance of bacterial growth and spoilage.
2. When storing your food, use appropriate sized containers. While leaving a space for air, too much space encourages condensation to collect and a layer of water to form on top of your food. That won’t look very appetizing. Properly wrapped foods will give your food a longer storage life.
3. When food has sufficiently cooled, move it to the freezer if you want to keep it longer. Label the container with freezing date as well as the name of the item. Use only approved freezer containers to avoid cracking, leaks and freezer burn on your food. Most foods are okay for about three months in a sealed container.
4. Thaw foods by putting them in the refrigerator. It is
not a good idea to simply sit them on the counter. For thawing meats, put them
in cold water or use the defrost setting on the microwave if you need them
sooner. Remember to disinfect any liquid from raw meats on kitchen utensils,
sinks and counter and in the microwave.
5. Maintain proper food storage temperatures in your refrigerator at 4 °C (40 °F) or lower and your freezer at -18 °C (0 °F) or lower. This will help promote home food storage safety and keep your food out of the temperature danger zone between 4 °C (40 °F) to 60 °C (140 °F) where bacteria can grow quickly.
If your food goes bad and has to be thrown out, whether fresh or frozen, you haven’t saved a cent. In fact, it’s cost you time, gas, and money. Observing food safety and storage at home can save you money and keep your family healthy.
Simple steps that make it all worth while.
We strive to share safe, up to date preserving methods to the best of our ability. But you alone are responsible for your health.
follow current USDA safety recommendations.
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