Summer is that time of the year when people bring their barbeque and grill out into the yard and have a good time under the sun with the food they love. This is the perfect season for outdoor picnics or a visit to the beach. While it does seem greatly appealing, having your food out in the open under the scorching heat of the summer sun can have certain drawbacks as well. That’s where this guide to keeping your summer food fresh comes handy.
Unfresh and unsafe food can cause multiple bacterial and viral diseases in the human body. Microorganisms like Salmonella, E.coli, Shigella, Listeria, and hepatitis A are some of the most common carriers of disease found in food. Cooking and handling food should be done with the utmost care, as this directly affects the health of an individual. Read this article for an in-depth discussion on ways to keep your summer food fresh and safe.
Keep Your Hands Clean
The importance of keeping your hands clean before, during, and after handling food can not be overstated. It is a global initiative that should strictly be followed in all corners of the world. Regularly washing your hands will avert cross-contamination and keep the kitchen or cooking area protected from invisible infestation. Make sure you dry your hands properly after washing them, as wet hands have a chance to transfer germs as well.
Multiple online platforms are available that provide information regarding the health and safety concerns of food consumption. Foodsguy.com is one such platform where you can check out handy informative content that are great as a guide on this matter.
Wash the Food (if required)
Certain vegetables and fruits are packaged after washing and drying before being put up for sale. While washing these edibles is not “mandatory,” it is certainly a good idea to wash them again. Apart from these pre-washed food items, it is recommended that everything else should be washed as soon as it is ready to be cooked. The amount of dangerous germs that might potentially be present in food coming in from the market is massive and deadly. Properly cleaning your food before cooking or consumption can save you tons of money in medical bills.
Do Not Cross-Contaminate
A major cause of foodborne illness is the combined processing of raw and cooked food. Cross-contamination should be avoided by all means. Ensure separate storage at home for your raw food such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, raw meat, eggs, etc. Dry or cooked food may obtain germs from the raw food while being washed, stored, or processed.
Make sure you keep separate utensils for processing raw and dry food. Contamination may occur through the use of common kitchen materials like a knife, a spoon, a plate, or even a cutting board. Proper care should be taken to keep these utensils sanitized and germ-free. For outdoor sessions like picnics, it is a smart idea to pack the dry and raw food separately during the travel in order to avoid cross-contamination.
Take Your Time to Cook
A particular dish might have various methods of being cooked. However, make sure the method you implement is long enough to ensure all the microbes present in the food are killed. Optimum temperatures should be maintained while cooking to bring out the flavor and give the food a rich taste. Bird meat like chicken or turkey ideally requires temperatures above 160 degrees Fahrenheit, while beef, ham, lamb, or pork are safe at 145 degrees or above. Use a food thermometer to check these temperatures.
Cooking pre-processes, such as thawing or marinating, should be carried out in safe, germ-free places. Cross-contamination may occur if the same spot is used to, say, descale a fish and marinate a turkey. For most people, the cooking phase is the last stage where the food can be decontaminated. Taking this step seriously is essential for getting rid of germs and making your food safe. At Ecophiles, we recommend trying more vegetarian and vegan meals for health and the environment, and it also takes care of the problem above!
Use Your Freezer
A freezer or refrigerator is, arguably, the ideal place to safely store your food for long periods of time. The food is kept fresh for consumption later on. The primary reason for food turning bad is the temperature it is kept at, and for how long. Harmful microorganisms can easily and quickly form large colonies in the food and make it unsafe for consumption.
While traveling, make sure you keep the food in portable containers maintaining ideal temperatures for preservation, as the extra heat might accelerate any existing microbial infestation. Perishable food items are the most prone to this danger as they tend to act as breeding grounds for these germs after a short span of time being exposed to unwanted temperature levels.
Cool the Food Safely
Cooked food might need to be kept waiting for quite some time before consumption. It is mandatory to not let the food remain within temperatures between 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit, as this is the range where disease-causing microbes act best. Make sure you allow the food to cool only to suitable limits, and avoid food poisoning in the process.
Leftovers may sometimes be preserved for eating later. This is a common practice and can cause foodborne diseases if not handled with caution. You can implement innovative ways to reduce waste and maintain a healthy diet.
Children are the most prone to food poisoning or similar diseases due to general lack of care in handling and consuming food. Parents should take the necessary steps to ensure their children are following healthy practices while taking their meals. Teachers need to make sure pupils are well aware of the safety standards and that they are strictly maintained. Children can be given incentives for eating healthy food only and making them ensure their friends are also doing the same.
The global impact of food poisoning is staggering. Every year approximately 50 million Americans are affected by it. Most people do not properly follow the ideal methods of keeping food safe from contamination and often suffer as a result. This is a prevalent problem that can easily be controlled with a little caution and effort. At the end of the day, we should be enjoying our food without any worry over health issues. Follow our guidelines and stay healthy!