Tips to maintain food safety at home
In these uncertain times, it is essential to use information based on scientific evidence in order to take care of our health and the health of the people around us. Below you will find the 4 basic steps proposed by the FDA to maintain food safety at your home. But you are probably first wondering, what is food safety?
FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) establishes that food safety exists when all people have permanent physical, social and economic access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food to satisfy their nutritional requirements and food preferences, and thus be able to lead an active and healthy life. It may seem like a concept directly applied by the industry, supermarkets and local restaurant or coffee shops, but certainly, the home is no exception.
In advance, there are several important aspects that we must take into account:
PLANNING AND BUYING FOOD
- Plan purchases: know what to buy and in what order. This avoids putting the cold chain at risk and reduces the shopping time.
- Carry re-usable bags instead of using the supermarket cart or plastic bags. As we are going through times of where avoiding touching common surfaces and caring for our planet has become vital, do not be the exception!
- Carry wet wipes and/or disinfectant gel. Clean all surfaces before entering in contact with them and use disinfectant gel for hands while entering and leaving the building.
- At the supermarket, keep a distance of 1.5m as much as possible pack your own food to decrease contact with other people.
When you return home, remember to wash your hands, put your food on clean and disinfected surfaces, and wash the bags you use for shopping.
- If, on the other hand, you choose to shop online and receive your food at home, ask the supermarket or food service to only use one person to handle and/or serve your food and leave it at the door. Upon arrival, it is necessary to clean the external packages, bags or boxes, before storing them in our cupboard or transferring them to a plate before consuming.
Now that we know the basics, let’s continue!
4 BASIC STEPS TO FOOD SECURITY
Clean: Cleaning is essential for a safe environment
- Wash the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails for at least 20 seconds with plain soap and water, rinse, and pat dry with a clean towel.
- Wash surfaces and utensils after each use with hot water and soap.
- Wash fruits and vegetables under cold, running water. If damaged, remove this area and rinse. You should never wash fruits or vegetables with ordinary soap or detergent, as these cleaning products are not for use in food.
- Wipe firm fruits and vegetables with a brush and pat dry with a clean paper towel or cloth.
- Clean the lids of canned foods before opening them.
Separate: Avoid cross contamination
- During shopping, separate meats, shellfish, and eggs from other foods
- Use different dishes and utensils for raw and cooked food. Within raw, use different between fruits / vegetables or other raw foods and meats
- Do not reuse the marinades you used to marinate raw foods, unless you boil them first.
Cooking: Food needs to be cooked and kept warm, when the inside temperature is high enough it kills germs. Cook at safe temperatures:
- Beef, pork, lamb 71 °C, if meet is ground at 74 ° C
- Fish 63 °C
- Chicken, turkey and duck at 74 °C.
Refrigerate: Put food in the refrigerator or freezer within two hours of cooking
- Keep your refrigerator 0-5 ° C and freezer at -18 ° C or below
- Never defrost food by removing it from the freezer. Use one of the safe methods: 24h in the refrigerator before consumption, immerse it in cold water, encourage microwave cooking or use it directly
- Marinate food in the refrigerator.
Alejandra Morales (May 2020)
FDA. (2019). FOOD SAFETY AT HOME. (2019). Recovered from: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/free-publications-women/seguridad-alimentaria-en-el-hogar-food-safety-home
Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de EE. UU. (S.F.). 4 pasos para la seguridad alimentaria. Recovered from: https://espanol.foodsafety.gov/seguridad-de-los-alimentos-mfv6/4-pasos-para-la-seguridad-alimentaria
Harvard T.H. Chan. (2020). Seguridad de los alimentos, nutrición y bienestar durante COVID-19. Recovered from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2020/03/27/seguridad-de-los-alimentos-nutricion-y-bienestar-durante-covid-19/
FAO. (S.F). Estadísticas sobre seguridad alimentaria. Recovered from: http://www.fao.org/economic/ess/ess-fs/es/
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