This guest blog post is by Sarah Limbert, R.D.N., L.D., a member of Kroger Health’s dietitian team.
Pandemic or not, food safety should always be a part of our routine. In this time of frequent hand washing and sanitation concerns, it’s more important than ever. From the grocery store to your dinner table, here are four strategies to keep food safe.
Clean produce properly.Cleaning fresh produce should always be a part of your kitchen routine. Be sure to wash the produce before chopping it because even if the skin is not edible, chopping unwashed produce may cause the knife to drag bacteria through the parts that will be eaten. You can even scrub some of the firmer fruits and vegetables — but use a different scrub brush than the one you use to clean dishes.
What about other foods? There’s no need to wash meat, poultry, eggs or prewashed produce. But do consider all the things that will touch your food. Before preparing a meal, clean and sanitize all utensils, dishes and surfaces you’ll be using. And always wash your hands!
Store food safely.A major source of foodborne illness is the growth of bacteria on raw foods and the transfer of that bacteria to ready-to-eat foods. To reduce the risk of cross-contamination, separate raw eggs, meat, poultry and seafood from all other foods. Keep these items separate in your grocery cart, bags and refrigerator.
Storing raw meats, poultry and seafood at the bottom of the refrigerator can help ensure that their juices don’t drip onto other foods. It’s also important to store these foods in the main part of the fridge since the temperature in the door can vary a lot.
Cook to the correct temperature.Cooking food to the right temperature will help kill any bacteria that could potentially make you sick. Use a food thermometer and follow this chart from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to determine the appropriate internal temperature for foods. When checking temperatures, be sure to place the thermometer in the thickest part of the food.
Don’t forget to chill.Keeping foods at the correct temperatures is important to prevent the growth of bacteria after cooking. Keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and your freezer below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t let prepared foods stay in the danger zone of 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit for too long. Put foods away for storage at the correct temperature within two hours of cooking or within 1 hour of being in temperatures 90 degrees Fahrenheit and above — an important tip for summer cookouts.
Basic food and kitchen safety practices will ensure that you can enjoy eating with your family without worrying about foodborne illness.
Sarah Limbert, R.D.N., L.D., a member of Kroger Health’s dietitian team, works with patients on everything from weight loss to fertility to seizure management. She helps people understand how they can benefit from a “food as medicine” approach to nutrition while maintaining their lifestyle and livelihood. In her spare time, she leads a nonprofit organization focused on providing basic needs and creating a better future for children in India, Kenya and locally in Cincinnati.
Kroger® is a national sponsor of the American Heart Association’s Healthy for Good™ initiative.