Food safety is not a joke. Anyone who has ever had food poisoning, the type where you’re laid out for two days on the bathroom floor unable to hold down anything more than a few sips of water at a time knows what I mean. Getting sick sucks and it’s the last thing you want to have happen if you’re cooking for someone special. The statistics are alarming in regards to the number of people who get sick and die every year. What’s harder to swallow is the fact that most of the time this type of thing can be easily prevented by paying attention and using common sense. Your Kitchen should be the cleanest part of your home regardless of what the rest of the place looks like. You’re working with food, everything has the potential to get you sick if you don’t handle it properly and no matter what the FDA says, there’s always going to be that mutant strain that gets through and into the food chain. Here are a few helpful hints to help you stay clean and clear but this is in no way a full on guide to foodborne illness and prevention (I have to say that so I don’t get sued)
Always wash your hands:
If people would take all of 30 seconds to do this and do this the right way it would take care of most issues. If you are cooking and you question if you should wash your hands then the answer is yes you do. I wash my hands at work more often than most doctors for the simple fact that I come into contact with so many different things and I have know way of knowing what’s been where. Hot n soapy for 30 seconds and you’re good.
Wash your equipment:
Just like with above. Taking a minute over a sink can help avoid a night spent in the ER
Wash your food:
Yeah, it might look clean but think for a second. Can you see bacteria? Just like that chick you picked up at the kegger, it may look fine but be safe just in case. You don’t know who else has been handling the goods.
Use a thermometer:
You are not a pro, you don’t know what it’s supposed to look like. Take the time to use a thermometer and make sure that you’re in a safe range. You can pick up a good digital thermometer for $10 bucks anywhere they sell cooking equipment
Stay out of the Danger zone!!!:
Depending on who is doing what type of Research the numbers can vary slightly but it comes down to this. Bacteria, parasites, all the stuff that can make you sick thrive between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit or 4.4 – 60 Celsius. As long as you keep your food below 40 ( most refrigerators are set for 38) or over 140, you’re fine. Things like Chicken and pork as well as all ground meat (including sausages) should be cooked to 160 to be on the safe side
Avoid Cross contamination:
Most likely you’re working in a small apartment kitchen in some cookie cutter complex. It’s cramped as hell so play it safe and always prep your fruits and vegetables before working with any type of protein, this way you cut way down on the chances of things getting nasty.
When in Doubt, throw it out:
Not sure if something is expired ? Don’t take chances. If you don’t remember when you bought something, trash it. I’m not a big fan of wasting food (there’s always composting) but if you can’t clearly remember when you bought those eggs or whatever then why
Use common sense and err on the side of caution. There’s no such thing as a Kitchen that’s too clean.