5 Ways to avoid Food Contamination–#GO_DPRO

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I have a lot of cutting boards.  That seems counter intuitive for a professional organizer to have a lot of anything but I don’t tend to mess about with food.  You need to keep your family healthy and one way of doing that is keeping some foods away from other foods.  It’s important to follow a few simple rules to keep your family healthy and I think that keeping different cutting boards for different food items is key.  Here are a few  tips to help keep your family healthy in the kitchen:

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  1. Wash your hands.  As soon as you come home go directly to the bathroom or kitchen sink and wash your hands.  The amount of surfaces that you have touched throughout the day in a public place is immeasurable (well, I’m sure that someone has measured it but I’m not going to.  I just know it is a lot).  Getting into this habit and teaching your children this habit will help you stay healthy when cold and flu season are rampant.
  2. Make sure your refrigerator is set at 4 °C (40 °F) or lower and your freezer at -18 °C (0 °F) or lower. This will keep your food out of the temperature danger zone between 4 °C (40 °F) to 60 °C (140 °F) where bacteria can grow quickly.  When cooking follow common sense rules: keep meat, poultry refrigerated until you are going to use it.  Letting it sit on a counter for a few minutes before you cook (as you prep your meal) is fine, leaving meat thawing overnight in the sink or on the counter for longer than 30 minutes is not good. 
  3. Check for expiration dates on all your food.  Most meat has a ‘best before’ date but that is often a limit.  When you get meat or chicken home, be sure and use it within 3 days.  Any time longer could make it unsafe to consume.  Place raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood in sealed containers or plastic bags (I do both) on the bottom shelf of your fridge so raw juices won’t drip onto other food (see how to organize my fridge post here). Below is a guideline of how long you should keep food in your fridge and freezer.  Fridge and Freezer Storage
  4. Keep and use different cutting boards for meat/poultry/fish and other food items.  I have one for meat, one for fruits and vegetables, one for onions and garlic (only), one for bread.  I also have a special cutting board with a groove so that when you are cutting a roast all the juices do not spill onto the counter.  I have taken a sharpie pen and written on each of the boards so family members remember to use the right ones.  If they happen to use the fruit and vegetable board for meat, I make sure to sanitize it with hot soupy water before I use it again.

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  5. Sanitize countertops, cutting boards and utensils before and after preparing food. Use a kitchen sanitizer (following the directions on the container) or a bleach solution (5 ml household bleach to 750 ml of water), and rinse with water. 

Food safety is all about taking precautions and knowing the rules of handling food correctly.  Make sure to teach your family the rules of good hygiene.  Keep the list of how long  you are to keep food in the fridge and freezers close at hand.  It is worth it to get different cutting boards for different food items.

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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for DownshiftingPRO.com and other online media outlets.

12 thoughts on “5 Ways to avoid Food Contamination–#GO_DPRO”

  1. In regards to #2, I almost lost it while on vacation once and staying at a friend’s house. His wife put out frozen chicken wings in the sink, and left them there overnight and part of the day, and then I turn around, and she grilled them in the afternoon. Let’s just say that I did not eat the chicken wings and was completely amazed that someone would think that was safe to do. Keeping different cutting boards is very important.

  2. Wow. I don’t think I could manage with that many boards, haha. I do tend to stick away from wood boards so the meat juices don’t run into the grains of the wood. I’m looking to switch to a plastic one now because the glass board is just too darn loud! I just toss it into the dishwasher to ensure it’s cleaned well. That’s an excellent storage chart. I may print that out. Sometimes I intend to cook something that I’ve left in the fridge and forget. Then I’m left wondering, is this still good?

  3. Incredibly important reminders of maintaining a healthy kitchen, along with steps in how to do that. Knowing how long to keep foods in the refrigerator and freezer, and the proper temperatures is not something that many know. Having that information, along with proper storage recommendation is a great step in keeping our families safe from food-bourne illnesses.

  4. So many people get lazy when it comes to food prep. I guess they assume cooking will kill off anything that is cross contaminated. I’d love to have multiple cutting boards so that fruits and vegetables are never touching the one used for meats.

  5. These are all great tips!! I get so nervous about cross contamination when working with meat and fresh veggies at the same time!! I always try to be overly cautious cause food sickness is no fun! We write dates on all our meat when we buy it and freeze it to make it easier to tell when its good till.

  6. These are some great tips! I have a terrible habit of forgetting unthawed meat in the fridge and not checking expiration days. Usually I do a taste test but I’ve gotten sick a couple of times because of bad judgement. I’ll definitely keep these tips in mind 🙂

  7. This is such an excellent and necessary post. People don’t realize how important it is to wash hands thoroughly throughout the day! We enforce this same rule in our home. As for kitchen safety I keep a list of tips on my refrigerator and I too have color codes and labeled cutting boards. As a former culinary student, I know the importance of kitchen safety. Even a runny tummy can be attributed to some form of food born illness. Great post!

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