Proper StorageFood safety starts with the proper storage of perishable foods. Here are some hints on proper food storage.
- Set your refrigerator no higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer no higher than 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods as soon as they are purchased.
- Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of eating the meal.
- Do not pack the refrigerator too full. Air must circulate around food to provide for proper cooling.
- Store leftovers in small, single serving containers.
Food PreparationFood is prepared properly if it is cooked at a high enough temperature and for long enough to kill any bacteria present. Here are some important tips for proper food preparation.
- Never thaw food at room temperature. Thaw in the refrigerator, under cold water, or in the microwave.
- Use a clean meat thermometer when preparing food to assure that food reaches the proper temperature.
- Use a food temperature preparation guide when cooking.
- Cook at the following temperatures:
- roasts and steaks to at least 145F
- whole poultry to at least 180F
- ground beef to at least 160F.
- Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) links eating undercooked, pink ground beef with a higher risk of illness. If a thermometer is not available, do not eat ground beef that is still pink inside.
- Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm.
- Don't use recipes in which eggs remain raw or only partially cooked.
- Fish should be opaque and flake easily with a fork.
- When cooking in a microwave oven, make sure there are no cold spots in food where bacteria can survive.
- For even cooking, cover food while cooking and stir and rotate. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking.
- Bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil when reheating. Heat other leftovers thoroughly to 165F.
Don't Cross ContaminateBacteria can spread from one piece of food to another. In order to prevent this cross-contamination, follow these simple tips.
- Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods in your shopping cart and your refrigerator.
- When preparing a meal do not use a the same cutting board for raw meat and other foods (e.g. vegetables).
- Always wash hands, cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot soapy water after coming in contact with raw meat, poultry or seafood.
- Never place cooked food on a plate which previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood.
Clean Up the KitchenAll other tips for food safety are useless without cleaning your kitchen and food preparation area correctly. A clean kitchen is a must in order to eliminate foodborne illnesses.
- Wash your hands with hot soapy water before handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers or handling pets.
- Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before going on to the next food item.
- Use plastic or other non-porous cutting boards. These boards should be run through the dishwasher or washed in hot soapy water after use.
- Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
Avoiding foodborne illnesses is a must for those infected with HIV. Stay healthy, eat well, and remember these food safety tips.