From the store to the kitchen, food safety is important in eating safe and healthy foods!
Cooking is fun and our focus is usually on the tasty items we create. Another important thing to consider when making dishes in the kitchen is food safety! Parents can lead by example to help teach kids important ways to practice food safety!
Food Safety at the Store
Buy fruits and vegetables without deep bruises or cuts: Deep bruises and cuts allow bacteria to enter areas of produce that we cannot wash away! Superficial cuts and bruises can be easily trimmed away at home!
Check for large bubbles of air in meat packages: Large bubbles of air in meat packages can signal early spoilage!
Check cans for dents and rounded tops: Sharp dents can introduce bacteria into the canned goods and a rounded top can indicate early spoilage and introduction of bacteria!
Check expiration dates: Stores should manage their inventory, but it is helpful to check expiration dates so that you know how much time is left for you to use it! A ‘Best By’ date signals when the food will be at its best tasting but is still safe to consume after that date. The expiration date signals that the item may no longer be safe to consume.
Food Safety at the Home
Wash hands: Washing hands properly is an important step in home food safety! Wash your hands with warm water and soap before you begin cooking! Hands should also be washed after handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Food other hand washing guidelines in the kitchen check here!
Properly store items: Refrigerate cold items in a fridge set at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit, store other items in dark cool areas, and put away leftovers within 2 hours
Use a food thermometer: This helps ensure food is cooked internally to the correct temperature. This is very important for foods such as meat and poultry to avoid consuming disease-causing bacteria.
Use food in the order you bought it: Store older items in front to use first. This will help keep your pantry up to date and allow you to revisit your items frequently!
Avoid cross contamination: Use separate cutting boards and kitchen utensils when preparing fresh fruits and vegetables next to meats and seafood.
We cannot control all conditions around food safety, but these tips will help your family enjoy cooking and tasty creations in a safe way!
About the Author: Ashly Skaley is a dietetic student and intern currently earning her MS degree in nutrition at the University of Chicago in Illinois. She has a passion for nutrition, specifically with a focus on wellness and disease prevention. Her hope is to help future clients use food to promote healthy living and optimal wellness.