Saturday, October 10, 2009

Food Safety Tips

Reminders to lower your risk for foodborne illnesses:

1. Make a point of washing your hands before handling food at any gathering. You will be setting an example to your fellow helpers.

2. When asking guest to bring food for potluck, consider the type of food and distance to travel. People traveling a long distance might bring non-perishables such as rolls and breads. Those traveling about a half-hour or less can more safely bring perishable foods containing meat, poultry, seafood or dairy products.

3. With take-out foods, take the food home immediately. If you're running several errands, buy your food last. If you estimate that your maximum travel time will be more than 30 minutes, plan to pack cold food in an ice chest.

4. Don't leave perishable take-out foods at room temperature longer than 2 hours. Perishable foods include meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, pasta, rice and cooked vegetables.

5. After shopping, refrigerate fresh, peeled or cut fruits and vegetables within a couple of hours.

6. Plan to eat takeout foods within 1 to 2 days for best quality and safety.

7. Reheat takeout foods thoroughly to 165o F until hot and steaming. After you've reheated food once, it's best to toss any leftovers for greatest safety and quality.

8. Keep leftover cooked rice in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a maximum of six days.

9. Use up your brown rice within 6 months or store in a refrigerator. The oil in the bran layer has a limited shelf life.

10. You need not fear food borne illnesses from commercial mayonnaise and salad dressings. These sauces are too acidic for the survival of pathogenic bacteria.

11. Wash your kitchen sponge in hot water and soap after each use. Bacteria grow and multiply rapidly in this medium.

12. Keep all foods safe, even plant foods. Bacteria multiply quickly in moist food left at room temperature, such as oatmeal, rice, vegetables and pasta.

13. Beware of the foods most likely to cause food poisoning: casseroles, sandwiches, burritos, salads, turkey, fruits, vegetables, beef, fish, juices, eggs, protein salad and ham.

14. Freezing doesn’t kill bacteria, it just stops them growing. They increase rapidly when food is defrosted.

15. Don’t wash eggs before using; they’ve already been washed.

16. During winter, burgers are safer to eat. The risk of illness from E. coli is nearly three times higher in the summer, when the bacteria is more common in cattle.

17. Disinfect sprouts from alfalfa, radishes and beans with bleach to kill bacteria. There have been several large outbreaks of food poisoning from contaminated sprouts in California (August 21, 2001 Annals of Internal Medicine.)

18. To avoid food poisoning, do not eat undercooked eggs. Fortunately only one in every 10,000 eggs is infected with salmonella enteritidis because processors spray eggs with chlorinated water heated to 110 degrees to kill this harmful bacteria.

19. Prevent food poisoning from eggs contaminated with the bacteria Salmonella. Keep eggs refrigerated and cook eggs until yolks are firm.

20. When traveling to developing countries, follow these rules: avoid ice cubes; use only bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth; eat only raw fruits and vegetables that you peel yourself; do not eat salads or vegetable garnishes; avoid food or drink from street vendors.