Common Food Safety Mistakes
Every year, about 48 million Americans will suffer from a foodborne illness. Food poisoning is often overlooked but can cause serious long-term damage to those who are affected.
Practice better food safety by avoiding these five common mistakes:
Tasting food to check if it’s spoiled or not. Eating even a tiny amount of contaminated food can make you very sick. A good way to keep track of expiring food is to keep a running list of when items were bought and when meals are made and cross them off as you eat them so you don’t have to question how long it’s been in the fridge.
Using the same kitchen utensils for raw meat and cooked foods. Cross contamination is one of the most common ways to spread harmful bacteria and cause foodborne illness. Always separate the utensils used on raw meat and seafood from ready-to-eat foods. Never store raw meats or seafood in the refrigerator on or above raw produce or other items that will not be fully cooked.
Thawing food on the counter. The Temperature Danger Zone is between 40°F and 140°F. This temperature range is where foodborne pathogens multiply at the highest rate. Never thaw frozen food on the counter. Always thaw foods in the refrigerator, under running cold water or in the microwave.
Undercooking meat, poultry, seafood or eggs. Many people do not know what the internal temperature of their food should be cooked to in order to kill harmful bacteria. A food thermometer is essential to ensure your food is safe to eat. Click here for a complete list of minimal internal cooking temperatures.
Poor hand hygiene. At any point in the day, hands can be covered in harmful bacteria, which in turn are transferred to the foods you cook and eat. Always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap, making sure to get under the nails and between the fingers.
Avoiding these common mistakes will help keep you and those you cook for free from foodborne illnesses.
Written by: Raychel Adreani, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern