7 Kitchen Safety Dos & Don'ts Everyone Needs to Know
You may be a good cook, but what about food safety? There's a lot more to kitchen safety than just washing your hands before cooking. These things may seem nitpicky at first glance, but they're very important to your health. After all, the last thing you want is to spend valuable time preparing a home-cooked meal, only to get sick from something that was improperly prepared during the cooking process.
Here are 7 kitchen safety rules everyone should know. Bon appétit!
1. Clean fruit with a scrub brush
Simply washing fruits and vegetables with hard skins (such as melons and cucumbers) may not be enough to remove all the impurities and bacteria. Using a sterilized scrub brush will allow you to get to the grooves and properly clean your fruits and vegetables so that dirt and bacteria aren't transferred from your knife to the fruit or vegetable after cutting through the skin.
2. Use a food thermometer
When grilling, don't just look at meat with your eyes to judge its doneness. Instead, use a meat thermometer. Also, know what temperature meat and poultry should reach before you serve them. Whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb and veal should reach an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Fish should also reach a temperature of 145 degrees, while ground beef and hamburger should reach a minimum temperature of 160 degrees before serving. For poultry and precooked meats, such as hot dogs, a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit is safe.
3. Make sure your refrigerator and freezer are at the right temperature
The temperature of the refrigerator should be at least 40 degrees Celsius, and the freezer should be at least 0 degrees Celsius. To make sure your refrigerator and freezer are set at the right temperature, you can use an appliance thermometer.
4. Don't wash raw meat
Many people mistakenly believe that washing raw chicken, beef, lamb or veal eliminates germs before cooking. But in fact, the bacteria in the juices of raw meat and poultry can be splashed on surfaces in the kitchen or contaminate other foods, utensils and surfaces. Rinsing meat is a major safety hazard in the kitchen; if this is a habit of yours, you should stop. In reality, this only spreads germs throughout the kitchen where they can grow and make you sick. Also, some of the bacteria are so entrenched in raw meat that you can't remove them when you wash it. If you cook the meat to the right temperature, the bacteria will be killed, so there is no need to wash it first.
5. Don't store your baked potato in aluminum foil
Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism, has been found to thrive in low-oxygen environments like baked potatoes wrapped in foil.
While aluminum foil works well for baking potatoes, always remove it after the potatoes are cooked. Don't allow the potatoes to cool to the "danger zone" of 41 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit while they're still in the foil, as bacteria can thrive inside. It's best to serve the baked potatoes right after they come out of the oven. And if you store them in the refrigerator, do so without the foil wrapping.
6. Don't put hot food in the freezer or refrigerator
You've prepared the week's worth of food. But before you put the boiling hot food in the freezer, think twice. You should let it cool down first. Otherwise, you run the risk of creating a small heat wave in the freezer that will raise the temperature of other foods, which can lead to bacterial growth, she says. Also, let hot foods - such as stews, casseroles and pastas - cool on the countertop or stove before putting them in the freezer. I recommend cooling foods to 70 degrees Fahrenheit within the first two hours of cooking and then to 40 degrees Fahrenheit within four hours.
7. Don't store eggs by the refrigerator door
Eggs should be stored in their carton in the main part of the refrigerator, not on the door. The temperature of the refrigerator door is too warm for safe egg storage.