As per WHO, unsafe food is linked to the deaths of an estimated 2 million people annually, including many children. Before buying any product, you ought to read the labels and find out ways to prepare healthy food. There are several safety precautions that need to be kept in mind for keeping food borne illnesses at bay. We help you make sure that your kitchen and the foods you prepare in it are safe.
Cooking healthy food is not the only pre-requisite of a healthy living. As per health experts, it is important to read the food labels behind every product, store them properly, cook in the most appropriate manner and then ensure cleanliness post cooking. Dr Shilpa Thakur, HOD, Nutrition, Asian Hospital says, “Food borne illnesses are usually infectious or toxic in nature. They can be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances entering the body through contaminated food or water. Examples of unsafe food include uncooked foods of animal origin, fruits and vegetables contaminated with faeces, and shellfish containing marine biotoxins.”
Buy ‘safe’ food
It is foremost important to buy fresh food. The items that are refrigerated like dairy, eggs, fish and meat, should be bought just before leaving from the market. Ishi Khosla, clinical nutritionist says, “Do not mix vegetables and meats together while purchasing. Also the earlier you reach home and store these items in a fridge, fresher they remain.”
Beware of these items, warns Ishi Khosla:
· Vegetables or fruits with cuts of broken skin
· Unpasteurized ciders or juices (they can contain harmful bacteria)
· Pre-stuffed fresh chickens or frozen veg food items
Refrigerating and Freezing
The chilly temperature of your refrigerator will help keep bacteria at bay. Dr Thakur shares a few quick tips about foods that need to be kept cool:
· Store eggs in the shelf meant for them to keep them cold enough
· Store meat, fish in separate bags to avoid a mess
· Freeze or cook raw ground meat, poultry, or fish within 1 to 2 days
· Freeze or cook fresh meat (steaks, chops, roasts) within 3 to 5 days
· Consume open packets of frozen food within a week
While preparing and cooking raw meat, poultry, fish, and egg products:
· Wash your hands with warm water and soap before preparing food
· Keep raw meats and their juices away from other foods
· Thaw meat, poultry, and fish in the refrigerator or microwave, never at room temperature.
· Do not allow raw eggs to sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours to reduce the risk of Salmonella infection.
Clean it right
Cooking clean food is just one aspect of food safety. It is important to ensure cleanliness in your surroundings once you are done cooking:
·Refrigerate any leftovers as soon as possible after cooking. If left to sit at room temperature, bacteria in the food will multiply quickly.
· Wash cutting boards — which can become a breeding ground for bacteria if they aren’t cleaned carefully. Cutting boards can be sanitized with a homemade cleaning solution (1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water). After washing and disinfecting the cutting board, rinse it thoroughly with plain water and pat with paper towels or leave it to air dry.
·Consider using paper towels to clean surfaces. Because sponges stay wet longer and their porous quality attracts bacteria, experts recommend using a thinner dishrag that can dry between uses instead of a sponge.
Taking these simple precautions can reduce the chance of food borne illnesses in your family.
Bhakti D MBA in HR and Finance who found her love and passion in cooking and writing. She enjoys experimenting new recipes as much as enjoy playing with her son, she also brings her expertise as a parent and a qualified professional to WSL