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The Scary Truth about Food Safety

Mar 22, 2008
If you stop for a moment to think about how your mother cooked for you as a child, you might be surprised that you made it as far as you did. It seemed that no one knew about germs, so raw chicken and that night's bread loaves were both on the same cutting board without a second thought.

But times have changed and we're a bit more particular about our foods and food safety. With headlines everyday about e Coli and other dangerous germs in foods, your best line of defense begins in the same place your recipes do.

Everything Has Germs

Right now, your hands have germs on them. That knob you just turned to wash your hands at the sink? Germs there too. For a moment, let's be realistic. Everything has germs on it. But while this is the case, that doesn't mean we should give up. Here are some easy ways to keep germs at a minimum:

- Wash your hands with warm soapy water for the same length of time as - Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Dry them completely with a paper towel and don't touch anything.
- Don't touch your face with your hands or cross contaminate your hands in any way.
- Wash down your utensils and cutting board with warm soapy water too.
- Wash the board between food groups.
- Choose non-porous kitchen equipment, thermometers, etc. When things are made of glass, pyrex, or silicone, they are easier to clean and do not harbor germs.
- Rinse all vegetable and fruits before preparing.

Meats are the Worst Offenders

You probably already know this, but meat is your enemy when it comes to germ fighting. It contains hundreds of possible bacteria right from the start and it's an uphill battle from then. Here are the ways you can reduce your risk of food poisoning and infection:

- Never store raw meat above fresh produce. The juices can drip onto the clean product.
- If meat looks or smells spoiled, throw it out. Better to waste some money than to make your guests sick.
- Always check expiration dates.
- Wear gloves when handling meat and then throw the gloves away when done.

Temperature Rules to Follow

To make sure your meats are safe to eat, they should be cooking to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, at least. This ensures that any bacteria are dead and gone from your meals. You can use long digital thermometers to check this, wiping the thermometer down with a sanitizer or washing it thoroughly between temp checks. Cold foods should be kept between 35 and 45 degrees, helping to keep germs from growing.

Meats can not sit out for longer than two hours, so if you have a buffet arrangement, you need to make sure to check the meat temperature to make sure it's consistent or bring the food off the table after two hours. Cold foods should also checked regularly and placed into bowls of ice to help keep the temperature low.
About the Author
Able Kitchen (http://www.ablekitchen.com) sells kitchen equipment and other restaurant supplies online for great prices due to large bulk purchases. The author, Art Gib, is a freelance writer.
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