5 Simple Ways To Ensure Food Safety At Home

One of the biggest problems our world faces today is the issue of food security.  Food security, the availability of safe, nutritious and affordable food all year round, goes beyond just having food.  A very important aspect of food security is the safety of foods. If you have all the food you could have and it is not safe, the nutrition wouldn't matter much as your health might be compromised by the germ-ridden nature of the food.




One of the biggest problems our world faces today is the issue of food security.

Food security, the availability of safe, nutritious and affordable food all year round, goes beyond just having food.
A very important aspect of food security is the safety of foods. If you have all the food you could have and it is not safe, the nutrition wouldn't matter much as your health might be compromised by the germ-ridden nature of the food.
Here are 5 practical ways to ensure food safety at home.




1.Wash your hands and surfaces before and after handling food
It is very important to wash your hands before handling any food at all; whether raw or cooked. Bacteria and other microorganisms which cause food contamination and spoilage are present everywhere. Washing your hands will significantly reduce the number of these microorganisms lowering the chances of food contamination as you handle food. Ideally, you should wash your hands in between handling steps.
For instance, if you're cutting vegetables to make a salad, you have to wash your hands before cutting the vegetables, wash your hands after cutting the vegetables before you mix them to make the salad and again wash your hands after mixing the vegetables before you proceed to the next step of your food handling. This is very critical to avoid cross-contamination (the transfer of microorganisms or contaminants from one food item or food handling step to another). This would reduce the possibilities of food contamination, food spoilage and food poisoning.
Also, wash surfaces that would come into contact with foods. Make sure to wash knives, chopping boards, plates, etc. before they touch your food and after you have used them.
2.Wash foods
If you have to handle uncooked food items, wash them thoroughly to get rid of any possible source of contamination. The washing can be done with salt solution or vinegar solution especially for foods that require little to no cooking like fruits and vegetables.
3.Arrange foods properly in a fridge
Whenever you have to put food in the fridge, you have to arrange them properly to ensure ready-to-eat foods are not contaminated by drippings from raw foods. Refrigeration does not kill microorganisms; it only slows down their activity. Actually, there are some microorganisms that grow well at refrigeration temperatures so the right arrangement of foods only ensures that these minute organisms do not move from foods where their concentration is high to foods where their concentration is low.
Fridge doors are the warmest part of fridges so foods you store there should be the most resistant to spoilage caused by temperature fluctuations. Items you can store here include juices, mustard, butter and water.
Leftovers, ready-to-eat foods (examples include cakes, pies, sandwiches, etc.), eggs, dairy products and other products labelled “Refrigerate When Opened” should be stored on the top and middle shelves.
The bottom shelf is the coldest part in a fridge and should be reserved for fresh meat and fresh fish because these foods are more susceptible to microbial contamination and could have drippings hence contaminating foods that come into contact with their drippings. It's very important to place foods in tightly closed containers before storing them in the fridge. This would further reduce the chance of cross-contamination.
The crisper drawers/crispers at the bottom of fridges have just about the same temperature as the fridge door. These compartments are meant for fruits and vegetables because these foods can be damaged by lower temperatures. However, because some fruits produce ethylene, a chemical which induces ripening, store fruits and vegetables in separate crisper drawers to prevents vegetables from turning yellow due to the presence of ethylene produced by fruits.
4.Cook foods adequately
If foods are not cooked adequately, they may still harbour microorganisms. This can cause severe illness. Cooking heats the food killing most harmful microorganisms. While it is crucial to cook foods adequately, it is equally important not to overcook the food. Overcooking could result in loss of nutrients and even result in the formation of acrylamide, a compound known to cause cancer in animals.
5.Reject mouldy food
Do not eat foods that have grown spots of mould. The mould may have released toxins into the food making such foods unsafe.
The best you can do to such foods is to discard them and not to attempt making them edible by performing all sorts of 'surgeries' on them. After discarding such food, clean the place where that food was stored to prevent contamination of other foods nearby.
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By: Bezalel Adainoo/ bez@staywellnow.com
The author is a food scientist. He's also the Content Creator and Host Author of Stay Well Now (staywellnow.com), a blog dedicated to delivering the right information to readers with respect to food and how it affects their health.

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