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Posted May 19, 2010 | comments Leave a comment

Handle with care: Food safety in your kitchen

Do you know what foods are most likely to become unsafe in your kitchen?
Let's take a look at the 10 food groups that pathogens or living microorganisms can easily grow in when handled or cooked improperly:

1. Eggs and chicken
2. Meats (beef, pork, and lamb)
3. Milk and dairy products
4. Fish, shellfish, and crustaceans
5. Tofu and other soy products

These foods may become unsafe because they have a high protein and moisture content and are low in acid. It is important to refrigerate these cold foods properly (41 degrees or less), always defrost in the refrigerator, and cook to the proper internal temperatures.

When preparing raw meats, chicken, eggs, or fish, prevent cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards and knives. Always wash your hands after handling these foods in the raw state as well as sanitize work surfaces.

6. Baked potatoes
7. Heat-treated plant foods such as cooked rice, beans, and vegetables
8. Sprouts and sprout seeds
9. Sliced melons and cut tomatoes
10. Untreated garlic and oil mixtures

Many of these foods have a higher risk for contamination and are associated with foodborne illness because they have high moisture content and of the way they were grown. For example, potatoes, melons, and tomatoes may have been exposed to bacteria in soil or manure. Always wash them well before preparing and serving. Untreated garlic and oil mixtures pose a high risk for botulism. Cooked rice, beans, and vegetables should also be handled with care after cooking. It is recommended that these items be refrigerated promptly after a meal.

The best ways to prevent foodborne illnesses in your kitchen are to store foods at their proper temperature, cook foods to the recommended temperatures, prepare foods with clean equipment, and practice personal hygiene.

Source: Virginia Cooperative Extension, ServSafe


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