National Food Safety Education Month

National Food Safety Education Month by The Wellness Universe #WUVIP #TheWellnessUniverse #FoodSafety

National Food Safety Education Month by The Wellness Universe #WUVIP #TheWellnessUniverse #FoodSafety

“Food safety involves everybody in the food chain.” —Mike Johanns

September is National Food Safety Education Month.

This article touches on the standards of food regulation before the food is purchased. We will also provide safety tips on how to handle food while shopping, and at home before, during, and after cooking it.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates food by requiring suppliers to monitor their products for the presence of organisms that can make people sick. These tests are recorded and the FDA periodically does audits. Food is also labeled in such a way that it can be tracked. The FDA has the power to order a recall, halt production at a factory, stop the sale of a certain product, or seize entire batches of food if it finds it unsafe. (1) Companies can expect hefty fines for non-compliance to these regulations.

Food Safety While Shopping:

  • Check the “best before” date on your food.
  • Keep your raw meat, poultry, fish, and seafood away from other products in your grocery cart.
  • If you use reusable bags or bins, label them for meat, poultry, or seafood.
  • Buy frozen or cold food at the end of your shopping trip. (2)

Make sure you don’t leave meat, poultry, or seafood in the trunk of your car on a hot day! It will go rancid quickly.

There is a good website entitled Your Gateway to Federal Safety Information that has a wealth of information. Here are some practical tips from their site.

Food Safety at Home:

There are four steps to food safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill. (3)

  1. Clean:

  • Bacteria that cause illness can survive on your hands, cutting boards, utensils, and kitchen counters. Start cooking with clean hands by washing them for 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
  • Wash surfaces and utensils after each use.
  • Wash fruits and veggies, but not meat, poultry, or eggs! Even if you plan to peel fruits and veggies you must wash them first because bacteria can spread from the outside to the inside as you peel or cut them.
  1. Separate:

  • Use separate cutting boards and plates for produce and for meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
  • Keep meat, poultry, and seafood in a separate place in the fridge.
  1. Cook:

  • Many people think that they can tell when food is “done” simply by checking its color and texture, but there is no way to be sure it’s safe without following a few important, but simple steps. It is not the length of time you cook it, but rather its internal temperature while being cooked that’s important. Not checking the internal temperature prior to consumption can land you in the hospital with dehydration, a bacterial infection, or worse.
  • Did you know that the bacteria that cause food poisoning, multiply quickest in the “Danger Zone,” between 40º and 140º Fahrenheit? Always use a food thermometer.
  • Keep food hot (140˚F or above) after cooking.
  • Microwave food thoroughly (to 165˚F).
  1. Chill:

  • Did you know that illness-causing bacteria can grow in perishable food within two hours, and just one hour if they are at 90ºF?

More Suggestions for Cooks:

Did you know that you cannot tell if food is unsafe by its smell or taste? When in doubt, throw it out; Leftovers require proper storage to keep them safe. (2)

  • Refrigerate or freeze all leftovers within two hours to minimize the chance of bacteria growing.
  • Cut and debone the meat from large cooked birds before storing.
  • Avoid overstocking the refrigerator so that cool air can circulate effectively.
  • Use refrigerated leftovers as soon as possible, ideally within two to four days.
  • When reheating food, make sure it’s cooked to a temperature of at least 74ºC (165ºF). In general, you shouldn’t reheat the same leftovers more than once.

Food safety ensures you say healthy!

May the information in this article help you feel increasingly confident that you know how to shop, prepare, cook, and store your food safely!

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