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What Are the Best Tips for Food Hygiene?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2016
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Practicing proper food safety and food hygiene when cooking, storing, and preparing food is very important to prevent causing illnesses. In general, the rules are fairly simple and easy to remember, and revolve around avoiding cross-contamination. This can occur if a person does not wash his or her hands properly before handling food, for example, or allows cooked food and raw food to come into contact with each other. Another crucial aspect of food hygiene is to keep food at the proper temperature; i.e., food should be kept cold until cooked, then heated to the proper temperature for the correct amount of time to kill any bacteria or pathogens.

Food hygiene begins when first handling the food. It is important to always use clean hands and put food on cleaned surfaces. For instance, do not use a cutting board for one type of food and then immediately use it for another without washing it in between. This is particularly true if meal preparation includes raw meat or fish. It is very important to keep the raw meat or fish completely separated from all other foods until it is cooked thoroughly. Even when storing raw meats in the refrigerator, make sure they are sealed in isolated containers or located in such a place where they cannot drip down onto other foods.

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Do not leave foods out on the counter to defrost, and certainly do not run them under warm water, which can cause bacteria growth. This is very important for food hygiene as well. Instead, defrost frozen foods in the refrigerator, or run them under cold water. Then, immediately cook the food. It is important to ensure that foods are cooked at the proper temperature, and for the right amount of time, to heat them completely and kill any bacteria found there. Recommended cooking temperatures and times for different foods may be found online.

Safely storing food is another significant aspect of food hygiene. Again, prepared food should not be left on the table or counter, but should be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator or freezer. Cooked refrigerated food typically does not last longer than a week, and that is really stretching it in some cases, so be sure to check and verify that the food is still safe to eat. Not following these rules for food hygiene can easily lead to instances of food poisoning, which can be dangerous or even deadly, so be sure to always be careful.

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runner101
Post 10

This may be partially because I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but I am all about food hygiene and safety. I have a certain cutting board for meats and a certain one for fruits and vegetables. I just can not imagine getting the meat bacteria fully off, no matter how many times I scrub a cutting board or any other surface that raw meat has touched.

I actually don't even buy that much raw meat because I am so squeamish about the bacteria, and the way it feels! I would rather buy ready to cook, fry, or grill frozen meat. Frozen meat is not as messy as raw meat.

I also am really big on washing my hands and

the foods I am about to cook also. I knew I had an issue when I would wash my hands to the point of cracking and bleeding though.

If you are constantly obsessing about anything, especially to the point that you hurt yourself or others, or where the obsessive thoughts are all you think about, you should get professional help. Being overly obsessed with anything or any thoughts is not normal, and you will be a lot happier when you aren't so obsessed anymore. Trust me please.

honeybees
Post 9

I always try to follow the correct food safety guidelines and really watch the expiration dates on products.

I really watch this on something like milk. When I am buying milk at the store, I always look for the cartons that have the date that is farthest in the future.

This means I usually have to take a carton from the back of the line and not the front. They always have those with the nearest expiration date at the front.

This way I have a longer time to use it before it has the chance of going bad. I do the same thing with juice, but we drink juice faster than we drink milk in our house.

I also don't like to use food that has been in the freezer for longer than 6 months. The food might be safe to eat, but you lose some quality and freshness if you leave it in the freezer too long.

julies
Post 8

I think one of the hardest things about practicing good food hygiene and safety is that you can't actually see the germs and bacteria that can make you sick.

I have always been particular when I am working with raw meat. For example, when I take a plate of meat outside to grill, I always have an extra, clean plate to put the meat on when it is done grilling.

I also make sure the utensils I use to place the meat on the grill are not the same ones I use after the meat has cooked for a few minutes.

If you have ever had any kind of food poisoning, it really makes you much more aware of how important good food hygiene practice is.

indemnifyme
Post 7

@ceilingcat - I think a lot of people engage in unsafe food handling practices and think it's okay because they've never gotten sick. I think it's only a matter of time for those people, as your story demonstrated.

I think the thing that I'm most particular about it meat. I make sure I always cook it thoroughly and don't let raw meat touch anything else. I'm also very diligent about cleaning my counter if raw meat touches it.

ceilingcat
Post 6

I am a stickler for food hygiene. Usually I won't keep leftovers in the refrigerator for longer than three days. I think any longer than that, and you're just asking for trouble.

However, I used to have this roommate that was extremely cheap. It's not like she was poor, she was just a tightwad. She would never let food go to waste, even if it was past the point of safety. I was always telling her that she was going to get sick, but she never listened to me.

Anyway, one day she ate some leftover vegetables that she shouldn't have, and she finally got sick. I'm not sure if she changed her ways after that because I moved out soon after that happened.

ysmina
Post 5

Eating out can be a nightmare if you're worried about food hygiene.

Something that is not at all hygienic and which I think is very bothersome is when a cook uses a spoon or fork to taste the food and sticks the utensil back in the food.

This sounds like a very innocent mistake when I think of restaurants which have pests in their kitchen or cooks and servers who don't mind coughing or sneezing around the food or who don't take the time to wash their hands.

Cooking at home is the best because it's the only way to know that the food fits your standards of hygiene.

discographer
Post 4

@Kat919-- I agree that it should be okay if it's only been like a day and you kept the food closed in a tight container in the fridge.

I worry more about keeping things open in the fridge. Sometimes my brother will cut a lemon and stick what's left of it in the fridge door to use later. That really bothers me, I feel like it's gotten contaminated.

I'm also very careful when handling raw meat, poultry and eggs. We can get diseases from animal meat and products if it's not handled and cooked properly. I always wear plastic gloves when I'm cutting meat and wash everything, including the counter with hot water and dish detergent.

I also wash eggs before cracking them for an omelet and I wash my hands after touching eggs. I heard a doctor recommend this once to avoid bacteria and disease from chicken feces that the eggs might have come into contact with.

bear78
Post 3

I just moved into my place for the first time and my mom made me a whole list of things to do and not do when it comes to the kitchen and cooking. She told me that I should never heat something twice because there will be a lot of bacteria growth and I can get food poisoning. So if I cook something, put it in the fridge and take it out the next day and microwave it, I should not put it back in the fridge and microwave it again the next day.

Apparently, heating and cooling food over and over again is the perfect way to increase bacteria and then get sick from the food. I've been

following this rule and have not had stomach upset thanks to it. When I want to heat food, I only take out as much as I want and heat that portion. I also throw out cooked food that's been in the fridge for more than two days.
dfoster85
Post 2

@Kat919 - Food hygiene safety says that you should reheat all your leftovers steaming hot. The refrigerator will certainly slow down the growth of bacteria, but it won't eliminate it. I like my cold pizza, too. I will only eat cold pizza if I got it in the fridge very soon after delivery and only the very next morning from when I had it. And I know that it's still a risk.

Most people, sure, won't get sick from an occasional violation of the rules. we've all eaten cookie dough. But you never know which is the time that you *will* get sick. If you make a habit of following the rules, hopefully that will be never.

And honestly, you might not know if you had gotten sick from something you ate. Food poisoning can take a long time to kick in and is often mistaken for a virus.

Kat919
Post 1

Is it safe to eat cold leftovers from the fridge? Or that a violation of good food hygiene rules? I do love my cold pizza. And I've never gotten sick from eating my leftovers cold.

It seems like a lot of these rules are great, but that they cover things that are unlikely to make you sick.

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