Basic Rules of Food Safety

Donald Pennington By Donald Pennington, 25th Mar 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Daily Life

Whether it's a meal cooked at home, tailgate party or just a barbecue in the backyard, food safety is a factor worth considering at every meal.

First, use good food.

It might sound almost like “common sense.” But it's important to make sure you're working with food which isn't out-of-date or freezer-burnt, in the first place.

It's not just meat, poultry or fish, though. Fruits and vegetables have a shelf-life too. Old produce can be just as dangerous as bad meat.

The general rule-of-thumb is, “When in doubt, throw it out.”

Produce needs to be cleaned, too.

I used to laugh at my grandmother, when as a child, I saw her washing off her fruits and vegetables, before cutting them up. But, if you think about it, produce grows in soil. So, it is a great move to make sure and wash off any possible soils and/or pesticides on the surface.

Storage is important, too.

When it comes to storage, make sure raw foods are well-sealed – just like you would for cooked foods – and they're stored below cooked foods inside of your refrigerator. In general, it's also a good practice to have one portion in a refrigerator for raw foods only. Regular cleaning of the refrigerator is also important.

Thawing and/or refrigeration.

Thaw frozen meats/poultry/fish in the refrigerator and not just on a shelf. This allows the thawing of your raw food while still hampering the growth of any putrefactive bacteria on its surface.

Contrary to what many believe, when refrigerating cooked food, it doesn't need to cool-down before refrigeration. You actually want to put it in a sealed container and refrigerate it as soon as possible. The suggestion to cool food down before refrigeration is a throw-back from the days when refrigerators were literally just “ice-boxes” and hot foods melted the ice quicker.

Wash those hands thoroughly and repeatedly.

Washing your hands before preparing food prevents anything on your hands from getting on your food. But, you'll also want to wash them between each step of the cooking process. Doing so will prevent germs from getting on other foods, as well as utensils and/or dishes. Washing up after the food has been prepared helps prevent the spread of germs, as well.

Be sure to wash your hands with soap, plenty of hot water and for enough time to sing "Happy Birthday to You," twice. It's a small bit of extra effort which will pay wonderful dividends.

Avoiding cross-contamination.

Have you ever been to an outdoor barbecue where the cook used the same plate for cooked meats, as used for bringing out the raw meats? It's a really bad idea. The food will take enough time to cook to make it worth the effort of getting a separate dish for the cooked meats (Remember to wash those hands before handling the fresh plate, though.) This same rule applies to any surface which has had raw meats/poultry/fish on them, as well.

If the cook needs to taste the dish while cooking, be sure to use a separate utensil from the one used for stirring.

Temperature ranges are important too.

Cold food needs to be kept at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Hot foods should be kept at temperatures of 140 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. A thermometer is the only acceptable method of testing temperatures and the temperature should remain a constant of 15 seconds or longer while being read.


Barbecues, Cooking, Cookouts, Food Facts, Food Preparation, Food Safety, Health And Safety, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Tailgate Parties

Meet the author

author avatar Donald Pennington
Donald contributes to a variety of sites, networks, blogs, and other publications. He sometimes writes in the dark, but longs for the light.

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author avatar Funom Makama
25th Mar 2014 (#)

Thanks so much for the most important and awesome food safety rules... No matter how common some of them may be, they can never be over-emphasized! Great write Donald

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author avatar Donald Pennington
25th Mar 2014 (#)

Thank you. You're right. And food safety is too important to forget.

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