The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends four basic food safety principles: CLEAN, SEPARATE, CHILL and COOK. These principles are also directly aligned with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ four simple tips to reduce the risk of food contamination. By following these standard rules for food safety, you can now take care of your customers as well as protect your business’ reputation against the threat of food borne illnesses.
Clean. Bacteria can thrive anywhere in your kitchen and especially areas that are deprived of soap. Those germs can easily find their way to a plate or uncovered food. Here are some tips that can help:
- Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and running water before handling food and after using the bathroom
- Fruits and vegetables should be rinsed thoroughly to eliminate dirt and bacteria.
- Use paper towels to soak up spills rather than cloth towels.
Separate. You can still be exposed to foodborne bacteria even if you wash your hands and surfaces regularly. This can happen via cross contamination or if raw meat is not handled separately from other ingredients. To avoid contamination, use these tips:
- Use separate cutting boards to cut meat and for preparing produce.
- Wash all surfaces you use to cut meat in warm, soapy water.
- Keep meat in separate grocery bags to prevent bacteria from spreading to other products.
- Do not place cooked food on surfaces that previously held uncooked or raw meat, eggs or poultry.
Cook. Food that reaches a certain temperature when it’s being cooked is safe for consumption. At that point, the internal temperature is high enough to kill bacteria that can cause illnesses. You can use a food thermometer to check for the following:
- Steak or ground beef should be cooked at 160°F
- Seafood should be cooked at 145°F.
- Chicken or turkey should be cooked at 165°F
- Eggs should be cooked till the yolk and the white is firm.
Chill. By refrigerating food at appropriate temperatures you can slow down the growth of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Here are some useful tips
- The refrigerator should be set below 40°F and the freezer should be set at or below 0°F.
- Perishable food should be refrigerated immediately
- Food should be stored in small containers that are at least 2 inches deep.
Keep a thermometer in your refrigerator and check it regularly to ensure temperature doesn’t drop to unsafe levels.