Make sure cloths or towels used for wiping spills are not used for any other purpose.
I like to use disposable paper towels. Make sure you wash your hands between tasks. Consider using single-use gloves when preparing food. Wash your hands before putting on gloves. Gloves should be used only for a specific task and changed each time a new task is started. If gloves are punctured or ripped that gloves must be changed. Remember change your gloves.
When I use to do food safety audits I always checked to see how many cases of gloves were purchased monthly to see if they were being used properly.
Thawing Food Properly
Freezing food does not kill all microorganisms but it does slow their growth. When frozen food is thawed and exposed to the temperature danger zone microorganisms that are present will begin to grow and multiply.
There are only four acceptable ways to thaw food.
I do not recommend thawing your food submerged.
1. Place your food on a plate in a sanitized sink with the drain open with running, portable water at a temperature of 70 degrees F or lower. Water flow must be strong enough to wash loose food particles off into the drain. Remember to sanitize your sink after your food is thawed.
2. Place your food or raw meats in a separate area in your refrigerator underneath your ready to eat foods. The temperature of the refrigerator should be 41 degrees F or lower.
3. Place food in a microwave oven if the food will be cooked immediately after thawing. This is my favorite way to thaw frozen foods. I no longer throw away food left too long in the refrigerator.
4. Cook frozen food in the oven. Make sure you cook your food to meet the minimum internal cooking temperature.
The two leading factors in food-born illness are temperature abuse and cross-contamination. The key to serving safe food is to handle food safely. Spend your time training your family in principles of sanitation time and temperature control.
Following these guidelines will prevent food from being subject to time and temperature abuse.
Have a bi-metallic stem thermometer available. You can find it in the kitchen gadget aisle at your local grocery store.
When preparing food take out only as much food from storage as you can prepare at one time. For example: if you are breading six chicken breasts and are doing something else at the same time only take out two chicken breasts, bread them and then store them in your refrigerator. Then do the next two. Continue breading with the next two. Cook, hold, cool and reheat food properly. The idea is to not have six pieces of chicken sitting around unrefrigerated. I have teenagers who eat at different times due to school and work schedules so when I cook pasta I cook and serve, then put the rest in the refrigerator right a way. Do not leave it sitting on the counter. They can always reheat their dinner in the microwave. Cooling down the foods will be covered in a future article entitled “Leftovers”.
When heating or cooling food, pass it through the middle of the temperature danger zone 70 degrees F to 120 degrees F as quickly as possible. Microorganisms grow faster in the middle of the range. Discard food if it spends more than four hours total in the temperature danger zone 41 degrees F to 140 degrees F. This includes time spent in the temperature danger zone during purchasing, storage, preparation and cooking and then again during cooling and reheating.
Following these guidelines will prevent against cross- contamination.
Prepare raw meats, fish and poultry in separate areas from produce or cooked or ready to eat foods. If space is not available prepare these items at different times.
Assign specific equipment such as cutting boards, utensils and containers to each type of food product. For example, use one set of cutting boards utensils and containers just for poultry and another set for meat and a third set for produce.
Clean and sanitize all work areas, equipment and utensils.
If you have small children at home it is never too early to teach them good food safety skills. Start out with proper hand washing. It is a gift that will last a lifetime.