By Chioma Nnagbo
This is why good kitchen hygiene during both food preparation and cooking are extremely critical in terms of preventing food borne illnesses.
Bacteria may sit on kitchen counters, stick to your raw meats, and end up contaminating all those delicious foods. These being germs, they are for the most part completely invisible.
Here are 8 must-follow kitchen hygiene rules:
1. Wash Your Hands!
Many people tend to assume that diarrhea and other forms of sickness only come due to food poisoning from outside our homes. While you may never guarantee 100% protection against a diversity of food borne illnesses, there are several simple good kitchen hygiene precautions which you can implement towards reducing the risk.
Germs can very quickly and easily spread between our hands into the food, so keeping clean hands before initiating in any food handling process is essential. Washing hands properly when you are going to touch raw meat, especially after visiting the toilet or using the kitchen bin significantly helps in reducing the spread of several types of harmful bacteria like salmonella and E. coli.
Out there, you can pick up lots of bacteria, so it's vital to always thoroughly wash your hands prior to preparing or eating food. Using good anti-bacterial hand washes plus wipes can make all the difference in terms of kitchen hygiene. As part of your kitchen hygiene rules, use warm water and soap at all times, washing your hands thoroughly—at least for about 20 seconds.
If you only have to remember one critical thing about hygiene in the kitchen, remember this rule!
2. Proper Food Storage
Correct food storage is as critical as correct cooking. When storing cooked food in your fridge or cooler ensure it is at room temperature or even lower. Placing warm food inside a fridge implies it has not cooled evenly and could as such, cause food poisoning
All your food should always be covered, as left in the open it becomes vulnerable to bacteria. All raw animal foods should be stored in the fridge bottom. This is because raw fish, meat, and poultry can easily drip onto other ready-to-eat foods in the fridge causing potentially fatal illness.
Make it a habit to always check the instructions on food storage and the 'use by' date on all packaging. Any leftovers should be covered and stored in the fridge or freezer inside 2 hours of the cooking. First, ensure they have cooled completely before storing them.
3. Cook Food Thoroughly
You are perhaps thinking this is obvious stuff! But you will be surprised by the number of people who actually under cook their food. With undercooked food, there is a higher risk of harmful bacteria getting ingested which may trigger food poisoning. All animal foods ought to be cooked to a minimum of 170 ° F, if you want to get rid of viruses, bacteria, and parasites which bring food borne illnesses.
If unsure, cut into foods like meat, sausages, chicken, and burgers to check if they have been fully cooked all through. When you are reheating food, ensure it steams hot all through, and never have any food reheated more than once.
Hygiene in the kitchen includes washing vegetables and fruits to remove harmful bacteria and germs from the surface of the foods. If you usually obtain bargain food from the “a truck back” or regularly eat at establishments that are not licensed, you could be courting trouble.
4. Never Defrost Food On The Counter
Defrost the food to be cooked in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave, never on the counter. All perishable foods must never be thawed on the counter for periods lasting more than 2 hours because while at the centre, the food may still be frozen but the outer food surface could enter into what is referred to as the Danger Zone.
This is a zone whose temperature range lies between 40° and 140°F, in which lethal bacteria tend to multiply rapidly. It is best to thaw all frozen foods by placing them in the fridge bottom shelf or under cold running water for less than an hour.
Poultry and meat can be thawed in airtight packaging placed in cold water, but ensure the water is changed every half hour and the thawed food must be used immediately. If time is a factor, you may use the microwave.