How to Keep Food Safe to Eat - dummies

By Jane Kirby, The American Dietetic Association

Part of a healthy diet is making sure that the foods that you eat have retained their nutrients and won’t make you sick. You count on producers, packers, and shippers, and supermarkets to comply with sanitation requirements. You expect restaurants to be scrupulously clean. Yet did you know that most food-related illnesses can be traced back to home kitchens?

Eating foods that contain harmful bacteria, toxins, parasites, viruses, and chemical contaminants can cause a host of illnesses. Plenty of folks can shake off the unpleasant symptoms of food “poisoning” in a matter of hours or days, but for other people, food contamination can be fatal. Pregnant women, young children, older people, and anyone with a weakened immune system are at high risk.

To ensure that the healthy food you bring into the house stays that way, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Clean. Wash hands and surfaces often. Use soap and rinse it well.

  • Separate. Keep raw foods that will be eaten raw, such as salads, from contamination by separating them from raw foods that must be cooked, such as meat, eggs, and poultry.

  • Cook. Know safe temperatures. Check labels and cookbooks for recommendations. Use a thermometer to make sure the internal temperature reaches a safe level.

  • Keep it cold. Don’t leave food out more than two hours (one hour in 90 degrees Fahrenheit weather).

  • Serve it safely. Keep hot foods hot, and cold foods cold.

When in doubt, throw it out. Don’t take chances.