Food preparation and proper handling of food in the kitchen is a chief concern when it comes to cooking dinner. By doing everything the right way, you greatly minimize the chance of getting a food borne illness caused by mishandling food during the preparation stage of cooking.
From the moment you purchase food at the store or market, and even while it's at the grocer, food has a tendency of picking up microscopic "bugs" along the way. These tiny organisms are either hitching a ride to a more suitable host (you) or using the food as their source of nutrition.
These organism, better known as bacteria, viruses, and germs, don't mean to make you sick - they are just living their lives just like you. But when they come in contact with the human body, they can really mess you up inside and out.
Protecting yourself and your family from these "bugs" should be a big concern from the time you buy your ingredients until you cook the them for dinner or any other meal. There are a few things you can do to minimize the risk of food poisoning by handling your food properly and preparing your food in a safe environment while getting ready to cook dinner.
The following tips for food preparation and handling will help lower the chance of your food getting contaminated with sickness causing germs before you start cooking.
NOTE: There are no perfect foods out there. Everything has a certain degree of bacteria and germs on it. You will use these tips to minimize contamination while cooking will kill off the rest.
1. Choose Your Foods Wisely. When you are going through the isles of the store or market looking for the perfect ingredients for dinner, you need to do a thorough inspection on every piece of perishable food you intend on buying. I call this the "Three Senses Check".
First, use your eyes to see anything wrong with the food. Look for rot, larger bugs, mold, bruising, and color. If it looks healthy, it is good to go.
Second, use your nose to smell the food. If something is going bad, you can usually smell a fowl odor coming from it. Even if it looks perfect, if it smells bad, it probably is. It is probably stored with many others just like it. If one of them is rotten and sitting next to this apparent good one, bacteria and germs can be on the good one as well.
Lastly, use your hands and fingers to touch the food. Fruits and vegetables should be firm to the touch. If it feels excessively soft and mushy, it's probably very ripe or already bad. If it is very ripe, it more likely has more bacteria and germs on it from sitting longer.
2. Proper Food Storage. As soon as you get home from the store with your groceries, you need to properly store them so they don't spoil. Perishable foods such as fruits, vegetables, and meats all have storage recommendations to keep them as safe as possible from organisms that will make you sick. If food preparation isn't going to happen in a day or two, consider freezing it or vacuum sealing it until it will be used.
3. Use Proper Food Preparation Techniques. To help lower the risk of food contamination while you are getting all of your ingredients ready for cooking, you should consider all of these preparation tips:
These helpful food preparation tips should help keep you kitchen germ free throughout the preparation phase of dinner and any other meal. If you have questions about anything discussed or have additional questions, concerns, or would like to add something to this list, please contact me about food preparation and I will research and address your concerns.
FoodSafety.gov is another great source of food safety information and will put you in contact with other government agencies that can help you maintain a healthy and sanitary kitchen environment.