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Washing your hands, keeping your food at temperatures outside the danger zone and cooking meat well are some of the best-known food handling, cooking and storage measures to avoid food poisoning. But there are other important measures to put into practice that you probably didn’t know about.
1. You do not heat the sausages
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests reheating deli meats and hot dogs until they steam so that they can be eaten safely. This recommendation is due to the fact that in some ready-to-eat foods, such as sausages and cold cuts, contamination with harmful bacteria can occur after food is cooked at the factory but before packing them.
2. You don’t check the refrigerator temperature
Not all refrigerator temperature gauges are accurate. To preserve your food properly, you must check the temperature of your refrigerator and adjust it if necessary, it must be 40 ° F or less and that of the freezer is less than 0 ° F. To measure the temperature you can buy an inexpensive thermometer for appliances at online or at any home store.
3. You don’t chill leftovers quickly
Once you cook your food, if you won’t be eating it within two hours, you should chill it as quickly as possible and put it in the refrigerator. For this you can distribute them in small portions and in shallow containers. If the outside temperature is higher than 90 ° F, you should refrigerate your food within 1 hour, it does not matter if it has not cooled yet, this will not damage the appliance.
Bacteria can multiply rapidly at room temperature or in the “Danger Zone” between 40 ° F and 140 ° F.
4. You refrigerate the meat for longer than it should.
Refrigeration slows but does not stop bacterial growth. Refrigerate or freeze the food depending on the period in which you plan to consume it. For example, fresh whole chicken will keep refrigerated for less than 1 to 2 days; frozen is optimal for 1 year. Cooked chicken will keep refrigerated for 3 to 4 days and frozen is optimal for 2 to 6 months.
See how long is the safe storage time in refrigeration or freezing of different raw and cooked foods shared by Food Safety.
5. You don’t often replace dish sponges.
Kitchen sponges or scouring pads not only act as a reservoir for bacteria and other microorganisms, but can also lead to cross contamination of hands and food, which is considered a leading cause of foodborne illness outbreaks.
Always remove food debris that may get caught in the sponges, rinse them with hot soapy water and immerse them in a bleach solution with water; do not store them in closed containers, let them dry. Replace kitchen sponges every two weeks.
6. You don’t wash cloths regularly
Wash dishcloths regularly and let them dry before using them again. Dirty, damp cloths are the perfect place for germs to spread.
7. You don’t wash your reusable bags
Reusable bags must be washed after each use to prevent germs and mold from growing and contaminating your food. It is very common that in the bags there are juices from the raw meat that is transported in them and that can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella or E. coli.
Wash the bags after each use and store them once they are dry. Try to use separate bags for meats, fish, and other raw products.
8. You do not take a disposable bag for the meat package
Before putting the meat in your bag, place it in a disposable bag to catch any juices that may drain from the meat package and thus prevent them from contaminating other foods.
9. You defrost the meat out of the refrigerator.
Perishable foods should never be thawed on the counter or in hot water and should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours, according to the Food Safety and Inspection Service. The best way to defrost meat is in the refrigerator,
If you’re in a rush to defrost food, you can also do it in cold water and in the microwave. The cold tap water should be changed every 30 minutes. Small packages of meat, poultry, or seafood around a pound can thaw in an hour or less.
10. You don’t disinfect countertops
Countertops, knives, cutting boards, and kitchen utensils should be washed with hot soapy water, especially after they have been touched by raw meat, eggs, fish, and raw vegetables.
WebMD notes that Listeria bacteria can remain on surfaces for up to 6 days, forming a film that makes it difficult to remove. Therefore, kitchen counters and sinks must be sanitized, not just cleaned.
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