Could you tell me if you are cooking your food safely?

Could you tell me if you are cooking your food safely?

Most conscientious cooks use common sense when preparing or storing food. But common sense in food preparation doesn’t just happen -it is learned. This learning happens, and when we forget where we learned it, we call it common sense.

Here are just a few pointers to refresh and reinforce your common sense as you prepare your meal or store it for future use.

food safety
  • Food safety starts with your excursion to the supermarket. You can pick up packaged or canned foods. Do the cans have dents? Please don’t buy them. Do you know if the jar is cracked? Leave it. Does the lid seem loose or bulging? Pick up another. Look for expiration dates on the labels -they are there for a reason. Only buy modern food. Check the “use by” or “sell by” date on dairy products and pick the ones that will stay fresh the longest.

  • After grocery shopping, immediately put food into the refrigerator or freezer. Please set the refrigerator temperature to 40 deg F and the freezer to 0 F. Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods, and leftovers within 2 hours. Raw meat, poultry, and seafood should be placed in containers to prevent their juices from dripping on other foods. Raw juices could harbor harmful bacteria. Eggs always go in the refrigerator.

  • Always cook food thoroughly until it is done. Red meat should turn brown inside. Chicken, when poked with a fork, should have clear juices. Fish, on the other hand, when poked with a fork, should flake. Cooked egg whites and yolks should be firm and not run. Be sure to use a food thermometer to check the internal temperatures of your poultry, meat, and other foods. Please leave it in long enough to ensure an accurate reading.

  • Wash your hands and cooking surfaces frequently. Bacteria can be spread quickly to ensure they will not take hold and grow onto your food. A solution of one teaspoon of bleach in one quart of water is all that is needed to sanitize washed surfaces and utensils.

  • Cooked foods should be left on the kitchen counter or table for up to two hours. Bacteria tend to grow in temperatures between 40 and 140 deg F.

  • Foods that have been cooked ahead and cooled should be reheated to at least 165 deg F. (This happens to be one of the most overlooked areas in food prep).

  • Chill Leftover Food Promptly. Could you place food in the refrigerator and don’t overfill it? The cold air needs to circulate freely to keep food safe. Divide the food and place it in shallow containers. Think about labeling some of these containers so you keep track of how long they’ve been refrigerating.


These are just a few points you already know, but you should keep remembering. Following these basics will avoid most of the ‘disasters in waiting’!

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