Food is important as a tool for sustenance alone, but food hygiene is vital from the time you purchase it to the way you prepare it and, ultimately, the way you store it. If you get the first two steps correct but fail on food storage, you could be in for a proper mess. Foodborne illnesses lay in wait to pounce on you or your loved ones if you get lax in how you store your food. So here are ways you should store your food to keep away those nasty foodborne diseases at bay.
Refrigeration Is Your Friend
Food poisoning is caused by microbes that infest your food. Bacteria are the most common culprits, but so are some fungi. And if there’s one thing that microbes need for their survival and reproduction, it’s warmth. A majority of the microorganisms that cause food-related illnesses thrive at room temperature. So the best way to mitigate the issue would be to lower the temperature of the food you’re storing.
That’s where the handy fridge comes in. These essential appliances have changed the way you can store your food, meaning last night’s dinner can be consumed as today’s lunch. The best refrigerators come with fantastic features such as touch displays that allow you to view the groceries in your fridge through your phone. So, if you’re on the lookout for a refrigerator that suits you, then go for something spacious while offering a variety of temperature settings for excellent cooling solutions.
Always Wash Your Hands Before a Meal
Your hands are teeming with microbial life. Don’t forget that your hands are moist and warm, creating a haven for bacteria of all sorts to survive. There’s also the fact that hands come into contact with several surfaces throughout the day, meaning that you actively carry microbes from different surfaces.
So before any meal, and whether you’re using hands or a fork or a spoon, make sure your hands are spick and span. While washing your hands, remember to take at least 20 seconds at the sink scrubbing your hands before rinsing. And once your hands are clean, resist the urge to use your phone – phone screens are also excellent at harboring bacteria.
Cook Certain Foods Thoroughly
If you love your meat, then this one’s closer to home. A lot of raw meat and meat-based products contain bacterial species of several kinds of bacteria, such as Campylobacter and Salmonella. Raw meat may also be packed full of parasites such as tapeworms. The best way to kill these nasty little fellas is, you guessed it, heat.
A thorough cooking experience ensures that the bacteria and parasites die before they get a chance to infiltrate your body. Certain meats such as pork require extra cooking time since the parasites found in pigs are a bit more heat tolerant. If you like your meat rare or medium-rare, then you’re certainly at a higher risk of foodborne illnesses.
Avoid Leaving Foods Out for Too Long
Once you’ve prepared a meal and everyone has had their fill, pack everything up ASAP and toss it in the fridge. Leaving food out for prolonged periods gives ample time for bacteria to settle on your food and begin the process of spoilage. Quick refrigeration shortens the time that bacteria have to start causing damage to your food.
Whenever you refrigerate something, avoid thawing and refreezing again, especially if you’ve thawed it in your microwave or at room temperature. The reason behind this is that the extra moisture that develops after thawing helps bacteria develop faster. Thawing and refreezing have the added disadvantage of breaking down the nutritional value of the food while also leaching the flavor of the meat. So, avoid this all too common mistake.
Marinate Inside Your Fridge
Bacteria are everywhere, and that includes in the very air you breath. So what happens when you marinate out in the open? Well, tons of bacteria land on your meat and make it their new residence. From that point on, they spread rapidly.
So when that Sunday barbeque swings around and you want to impress with some marinated steak or ribs, then marinate inside your fridge. The cold temperature deters bacterial growth and keeps your meat safe from bacterial invasion. Leaving marinating meat on your table is a recipe for potential foodborne illnesses.
Avoid Over Packing Your Fridge
It might get tempting to toss in every last bit of leftover food into your fridge in an effort to salvage it, but that might not be the ideal. Too much food jam-packed into your fridge interferes with how the air circulation. That makes it harder for your refrigerator to keep cool under all that pressure. You mostly end up overworking the motor, and that could mean the end of your fridge.
Whenever you’re packing food into your fridge, the best solution is to use containers rather than merely tossing in platefuls. Containers have a regular shape, and that means they can fit snugly into your fridge. Containers are also sealable, and that means that they keep unwanted moisture out.
Separate Your Foods
It’s an all too common mistake. Placing a side of stake right next to your cheese. Such storage practices are a sickness waiting to happen. Avoid the practice of keeping ready to eat edibles next to raw foods, particularly raw meat.
And if you must place the ready to eat foods next to your poultry or beef, then at least use a plastic bag. That way, even if the juices from your meat drips, your other foods are safe.
There you have it: a simple guide on the best food storage practices. Remember, better safe than sorry. So, save yourself or your loved ones an unnecessary trip to the emergency room with these handy tips.