Choosing healthy ingredients and having adept knowledge about different possible recipes and their cooking procedures is not all. Hygiene is first and foremost important to prevent the chances of food poisoning through the spread of bacteria while cooking, preparing or storing food. How much aware are you about the fact that bacteria that result in food poisoning are most active between 40˚ and 140˚F? We can brand something as ‘safe to eat’ once it reaches the specific internal temperature at which all the harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning are killed. Most of us ‘predict’ that food is cooked with its change in color and texture but how sure can you be that its safe to eat without knowing the exact temperature of the cooked food? Ensure to practice the following steps to confirm that the food is thoroughly cooked.
Use a food thermometer: Making use of a food thermometer is the best way to ensure that food is cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature. Chicken, duck and pork must be cooked up to a temperature of 167 ˚F double checking that there is no tinge of pink left in the meat. Beef and lamb can be served as rare until the outside has been properly cooked helping clear away the bacteria present on the surface. Please don’t wash raw meat and poultry before cooking as this causes bacteria to spread around the sink, utensils that we use and other surfaces. Its only cooking and not washing that kills any bacteria present in these. Get more details about using a food thermometer from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Keep it Hot: We generally use a casserole to ensure that the prepared food stays hot for a long time even after cooking. Once food starts to cool down the risk of bacterial growth increases due to the dip in temperature that provides the right environment for the bacteria to thrive. So, our practice of using something to keep food warm is definitely appreciable and noteworthy but that’s not enough. Bacteria tend to multiply in the danger zone between 40˚F and 140 ˚F and hence, it is essential that cooked food is maintained at a temperature above 140 ˚F with the help of a chafing dish, warming tray or a slow cooker.
Reheat leftovers: Food is usually prepared keeping into account the number of people who would be present during the meal. All days are not the same and sometimes, there is an occasional chance of leftover food that gets stored inside the refrigerator. When you wish to use it, please reheat it to 165 ˚F or higher.
There are four basic steps to food safety:
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.