A - Z Of Food Safety - Part 2
I Have already covered to A - L of food safety in my first article , the link for which I have given below right at the end of this article. I am now continuing with other tips on keeping food safe from contamination .
Starting now with M
M is for Meat
Meat and poultry needs special care since it not only gets spoilt quickly but can also cause much more damage than vegetarian food does. Make sure that meat and poultry is fresh before you refrigerate them. When you need to thaw them the best thing to do would be to put it in the main compartment for an hour or two , in covered containers after which you can submerge it in cold water.
Make sure that the meat is completely defrosted before it is cooked. Take extra care with poultry and make sure to cook mince and poultry until the juice runs clear and no pink bits remain. Keep stirring every now and then to make sure that the heat is spreading evenly into the dish and all the pieces are receiving equal and heat and get cooked uniformly. Keep separate cutting boards, knife, utensils and ladles for cooking meat . I use earthenware pots for cooking both fish and meat and find that it comes out much tastier.
N is for No and Never
It might sound a bit dramatic but at times we need to be firm about certain things, especially when it is a question of food , no compromises can be made ! I am giving below a list of No , and Never
1, Don’t touch food that smells foul, has gas bubbles, has changed color or is soft and squashy. When in doubt, simply throw it away instead of trying to give it a different texture by adding on or worse giving it to the maid or a beggar !
2, When you are ill, make sure that you do not handle food for others , especially if you are having vomiting or diarrhea.
3, Don’t cook if you have open cuts or boils in your hand. If you must, make sure that the wound is dressed properly and covered with an additional cloth to make sure that it does not in any way come into contact with the food items...
4, Please for heaven’s sake Don’ t sneeze or cough near food – keep your germs to yourself. You get to see people sneezing away to glory and cooking as well or cutting vegetables, it is quite a disgusting sight!
5, Make sure that you are not sweating excessively while cooking and if you are make sure that you wipe your forehead and other parts with a clean towel every now and then while cooking . I don’t need to elaborate on what could happen otherwise !
6, Don’t eat food items like ice cream and creamy cakes that have been thawed nor should you re refrigerate them after they have thawed once.
O is for Outings
We carry food when we go for picnics or even carry lunch to our work place or while travelling long distance. Certain things should be kept in mind while packing food for later use.
1, Making sure that there is no gravy that can leak out. As far as possible pack dry items like sandwiches, chapatis and dry vegetables or fried rice ..
2, There is no food item that can nourish bacteria quickly like meat, custard, milk based dishes etc..
3, Consume the food you have carried as quickly as possible and if you are in doubt it is better to go hungry rather than eat stale food
P and Q is for Piping Hot food and eating Quickly
After cooking ideally you and your family should eat immediately to get the maximum pleasure out of eating freshly cooked food. In fact that’s how cooked food should be served, piping hot and straight from the oven.
If and when you are reheating food kept in the refrigerator in a microwave oven, make sure that the food is heated through and not cold in the center. Stir it once in between to make sure that the heat has spread uniformly through the dish. Never reheat food more than once, it not only loses taste and flavor, it also loses most of its nutrients as well.
R is for Rubbish
Kitchen waste and Rubbish that collects in the kitchen is something we cannot do away with since it accumulates every day and needs to be disposed off. Make sure that your garbage bin is lined with a plastic bag and has a lid which fits well . It is better to have two different bins – one for dry waste like paper wrappings and bottles and tins and the other for wet stuff like peels, stale food etc. If you can recycle kitchen waste into compost there is nothing like it, otherwise dispose the stale food and other kitchen waste every day so that your kitchen remains free of foul smell and also insects and pests like rats and cockroaches.
S is for Storage
Make sure that food items are carefully stored. If there are any storage advise given on the cover of a certain item make sure that you follow it. Like for example certain food items need to be kept in the fridge and consumed within a week or a stipulated given time .
Keep all the storage shelves clean, cool and dry and uncluttered so that you have an easy access. Oil, flour, sugar, rice and spices and other dry foods need to be stored in air tight containers away from heat and light. Make sure that you use up older items first - follow the rule First in, First out .
While storing food items in the freezer label them with date and also the name because after a while all frozen food items begin to look the same..Making a list of all items in your freezer helps you find the right items when you are in a hurry to locate a package of meat or paneer instead of going through the entire lot.
T is for Treatment
Food can be dangerous when it gets contaminated and cause a lot of discomfort and even fatal outcome if care is not taken immediately.Contaminated food can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea which needs to be treated within 24 hours.
It is important that the person affected does not become dehydrated during that time. So make sure that the person or you are taking lots of fluids like water or even better boil water with some sugar and salt added to it and keep drinking a glass every 20 minutes. Other stuff like Barley water, arrowroot porridge i s also very good. You can also have fresh soups and lime juice with sugar and salt added to it.
However, make sure that a doctor is consulted if your child has food poisoning and is below 3 years of age. For adults you can wait for a day or two since the digestive system is able to cope and flush out the bacteria within a day or two. But when you have blood in your stools and also headache and fever along with the ailment, you should consult a doctor and take proper treatment.
U is for Utensils
Utensils are a part and parcel of any kitchen. Wash up all utensils as soon as possible after use.Use hot water and soap or liquid soap and rinse thoroughly, dry them and store them for later use. Make sure that no food particle is sticking at the bottom or on the rim, this can happen when a maid is sloppy and may not care much about cleanliness, so it is in our own interest to supervise her work every now and then and make sure that she is doing the job thoroughly.
If you have a dishwasher, use the right amount of salt and detergent and keep all internal surfaces clean all the time.
An easy way of getting your utensils cleaned when the maid is absent or if you are doing the dish washing yourself is to fill a large plastic tub with hot soapy water to which the juice of lemon is added , and immerse all the utensils in it after rinsing out the food particles in them. You can easily rinse them out later and they come out sparkling clean.Make sure that all kitchen taps and the sink is cleaned thoroughly after the dishes are done !
V is for Vegetables
Wash all the vegetables and fruits scrupulously before cooking or eating. If they are to be eaten raw, wash them in water adding a few drops of lime juice and some table salt. This way the surface gets thoroughly cleaned.Store vegetables in individual plastic bags or packets in the crisper drawer in your fridge. It is better to store potatoes and onions uncovered in a cool dark place in your kitchen, you can cover them with a mesh at night.
Chopping boards should be thoroughly cleaned after every use because stale particle of raw vegetables become stale and get contaminated over a period of time. Similarly knives that you use should be cleaned every time after you use it .
W is for Water
Contaminated water can afflict you with infectious diseases such as Hepatitis A and Polio and bacterial diseases like Cholera, Typhoid, Bacillary dysentry, Diarrhea among many other water borne diseases.
Keeping water at boiling point for at least 10 minutes makes it safe for drinking. You can filter it through a fine clean cloth or use a filter or purifier. Either way never be lax where water safety is concerned especially when there are babies and small children. Bottled water may be spurious so don't be lulled into a false sense of security.
X is for Xtermination
Get rid of all household pests before they take up permanent space in your house. They can drive you mad by causing too many unwanted complications. I have known families frustrated because they had rats in their house.They were perpetually under stress until they could take it no more and the entire house was fumigated with all the furniture moved out and all holes in the bathroom and kitchen including the washing machine drain hole properly closed so that there was no entry point for them. Rats carry plague,typhoid and rabies and one should make sure that they don't gain entry into our house. Set spring traps and also use wax blocks to get rid of them.
Another great menace comes from Cockroaches which again carry a slew of diseases such as typhoid, cholera and can aggravate Asthma. To exterminate them mix half cup of gram flour, quarter cup of sugar, half cup of boric powder with a little water.Make small balls and spread them out in the kitchen and also dop a few into the manhole where they generally breed. You can also sprinkle boric powder into cracks and under shelves. The commercially available sprays are good, although they are expensive and also smell very strong.
Flies too can cause many diseases like dysentery, polio,TB and typhoid. Use a fly swatter, spray or electocutor which kills them through radiation. Ants carry germs and can contaminate food. Get rid of them by wiping all the surfaces with water mixed with liquid dish washing soap. A mixture of boric powder with sugar can be sprinkled on the ant holes or the corners near door or the wall from where they emerge. Seal entry point with chilly powder or pepper powder or even petroleum jelly ( Vaseline) and see that they don't have an opportunity to form long lines inside your kitchen.
Y is for Young children
Small children whose digestive systems have not yet developed completely need special care. keep food preparation areas extra clean and tidy and also be be very strict about personal hygiene both yours and theirs ! Until your child is about 4 years old make sure that its digestive system does not get loaded with fast food and other damaging food stuff .
Even innocuous seeming peanuts can go down the air pipe of a small child and could make it choke and small fragments can cause irritation to a child's lungs. I have been told by elders and many doctors never to give honey to a child below the age of one since its swallowing mechanism is not fully developed and the sticky substance can easily slip into the airway with disastrous consequences.
Z is for ZZZZZZZ
Sleep easy knowing that the food you are consuming is good and healthy and there is nothing to worry about !
(http://www.boddunan.com/articles/health-fitness/39-food/22537-a-z-of-food-safety.html) Image source - wikimedia picture gallery
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