· Clean your fridge and freezer regularly. Because bacteria can stay in raw meat juices, place all raw meat, poultry and seafood into containers or plastic bags.
· Defrost or marinate meats in the refrigerator. Thaw frozen meat, poultry or seafood in the refrigerator or in the microwave. Gradual defrosting overnight in the fridge is the best alternative as it helps maintain the quality of the food.
Leaving meat to thaw or marinating on the counter can attract bacteria. Do not re-use the marinade used to marinate the raw meat. Keep a small portion separate from the raw meat for dips or sauce.
· Store left overs right away in the fridge. Any hot foods that you intend to eat at a later date should be kept in the fridge as soon as possible, and no later than 2 hours after cooking. Put a date on leftover food and don’t eat any leftovers that are older than 3 to 5 days. If you are not sure how old something is, throw it out as contaminated food can make you sick.
FOOD HANDLING AND COOKING
· Share and share alike does not apply to chopping boards. Do not chop raw meat (fish or poultry), bread, fruits and vegetables with the same chopping board. Buy a different coloured board for raw meat and another one for other food items.
· Wash your hands with warm water and soap. Before and after touching food, especially after touching raw meat and seafood, wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. If you have an infection or cut, be sure to wear rubber or plastic gloves. Don’t forget to wash and clean the gloves too as they can also store bacteria.
· Cook your meat, poultry and seafood completely. Use a food thermometer to make sure you don’t undercook your food which can really make you ill.
If you don’t have a thermometer, cut the meat with a knife to check on the colour of the meat to see if it is fully cooked. Freezing meats will not kill bacteria, only cooking your food thoroughly will.
· Washing exterior surfaces of food. Wash the outside of cans and even fruit like oranges since bacteria on the outside of these objects could contaminate or infect the food content on the inside. Sliced oranges and their peel often end up being touched by our mouths or hands when we eat them.
· Everything includes the kitchen sink. Kitchen sink drains should be sanitised with a teaspoon of chlorine bleach once a month or so since food that gets caught in the drain with the moisture can create bacteria.
· Kitchen countertops should be cleaned with hot water, soap, and then a bleach or sanitising solution. Hot water and soap alone may not be enough to kill all types of bacteria. Don’t forget to clean your sponges and cloths either as they may also contain bacteria which would then be spread onto your table tops when you clean with them.
· Washing dishes the bacteria-free way. Thoroughly wash and sanitise anything that has been in touch with raw food and don’t forget to take apart appliances like blenders and food processors which may store bits of food in them.
The best ways to clean dishes are either having them washed by an automated dishwasher and then air-dried, or washed immediately by hand in hot water and soap within two hours of use, and then air-dried.
Soaking dishes can cause bacteria in the leftover food to multiply. Air-drying is recommended as opposed to towel drying them so that they are not handled while wet.