World Food Safety Day: Important Food Safety Tips You Should Follow In Your Kitchen

Neha Ghosh

Annually, World Food Safety Day is observed on 7 June. This day aims at drawing global attention on the health effects of contaminated food and water and calls for action to help prevent, detect and manage food-borne risks. The theme for World Food Safety Day 2020 is 'Food safety, everyone's business'.

What Is Food Safety And Why Is It Important?

Food safety refers to the handling, preparing and storing of food in such a way that there is minimal risk of becoming sick from food-borne illnesses. Food-borne illnesses are a serious public health problem.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally 600 million cases and 420,000 deaths are reported each year due to food-borne diseases, which are caused due to unsafe food. And among children under five years of age, 30 per cent of food-borne deaths are reported [1].

Food safety is important as it aids in preventing food from becoming contaminated and causing food poisoning. This is done by cleaning and sanitising all surfaces and utensils, maintaining personal hygiene, storing, chilling and heating food properly and understanding food allergies, food poisoning and food tolerance.

When you are preparing meals, it is vital to follow important food safety measures in your kitchen to reduce contaminants and prevent the risk of food-borne illnesses.
Here's how you can follow the important food safety tips in your kitchen.

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Cleaning before preparing food

• Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before you handle any food items or start to prepare food. Touching foods with unwashed hands can be contaminated with diarrhoea pathogens [2]. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and running water [3].

• Wash fruits and vegetables before peeling because the germs can spread from the outside to the inside of the food as you cut or peel and this will cause contamination of the food. Also, washing your fruits and vegetables before eating helps remove the pesticide residues [4].

• Wash your cutting boards, knives and utensils after preparing each food item and before using the same cooking appliances to prepare the next food items.

• Clean your kitchen countertops and other surfaces before and after you prepare your food as the germs can get into the countertops, cutting board and utensils.

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Separating food items

• Separate raw food items such as seafood, meat and poultry from cooked foods, fresh fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator to prevent cross-contamination [5].

• Use separate cutting boards for fresh produce and raw meat.

• Do not place cooked food on the same plate that just held raw meat [6].

Cooking food

• Cooking food at the right temperature kills harmful bacteria. The CDC recommends using a food thermometer to ensure that the food is cooked properly and that cooked food is at safe temperatures until eaten. The safe cooking temperatures for poultry including ground should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit, for ground beef, lamb, pork and veal 160 degrees Fahrenheit, for fish 145 degrees Fahrenheit and for beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops and roasts 145 degrees Fahrenheit [7].

• Ensure that you cook ground beef and other meat patties all the way through. You will know it is properly cooked if you see the meat is brown at the centre and not pink or red. And the juices of the meat should be clear or brown.

• When barbecuing, cook the meat all the way through.

• Chicken should be properly cooked too as undercooked chicken and eggs can cause diarrhoea [8].

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Storing foods

• Already cooked foods should be stored above 60 degree Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) or cool it and store below 4 degree Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit).
• Store leftover food in the refrigerator or freezer [10].

• Consume pastries, eggs or potatoes that contain cream or salads with creamy dressing immediately or store it in the refrigerator.

• Set the temperature of your refrigerator at 4 degree Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit) or below [11].

Additional Important Food Safety Tips

• Always use clean water while preparing food.
• Consume cooked foods immediately.
• After cooking the food in a microwave, allow it to sit for few minutes to allow the cold areas of the food to absorb heat from hotter areas and cook it completely.
• When reheating food in a microwave, the food temperature should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Refrigerate fruits, veggies, raw milk, meat and eggs within two hours.
• Thaw or marinate foods in the refrigerator.
• Throw away the leftover foods that have not been refrigerated for over two hours.
• Divide warm food items into small, shallow containers for cooling it fast in the refrigerator.
• If you are serving your food later, refrigerate it right away.
• Before consuming food leftovers, reheat it all the way through.
• Store non-perishable food items in closed containers.

Common FAQs

Q. What are 5 food safety rules?

A. The five food safety rules are keeping kitchen countertops clean, separating raw food from cooked food, cook food properly, store food at safe temperatures and use clean water for cooking.

Q. What are the basic rules of kitchen safety?

A. Store knives in a wooden block, never cook in loose clothes and dangling jewellery, turn pot handles away from the front of the stove and don't keep food outside for a long time.

Q. What are the main food safety issues?

A. Poor hygiene, lack of preventive methods during processing and preparing food, contaminated food and water.

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