We love that our Cityline viewers like to prepare and cook so many meals at home, but it’s important to do so safely! Protect yourself and your family from food poisoning (something over 4 million Canadians suffer from every year!) with these basic food safety rules from Mairlyn Smith.
- Make sure your hands and the counters are clean before and after touching food.
- Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, sing a chorus of “Happy Birthday” to yourself, or pretend you are in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy just before a surgical procedure.
- Designate a cutting board for fruits and vegetables and a separate one for meat, fish, and poultry.
- Never transfer cooked meat, fish, or poultry onto a plate that was used for raw meat, fish, or poultry.
- Avoid kitchen sponges — they are a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Wipe counters with paper towels OR change your dishcloth daily. Wash the dishcloth in hot soapy water and air dry.
- To sanitize counters use Health Canada’s recommendation of 5 mL/1 tsp bleach to 750/2.5 L water.
- Wash your reusable grocery bags often.
- Wash out your cooler bags often.
- Wash out lunch bags every day.
- Rinse all produce under cold running water just before use including hard-peeled vegetables and fruits, i.e. watermelon, squash, etc.
- Use a vegetable brush on skinned produce like potatoes, apples, pears, etc.
- Let the food safety rule “keep hot foods hot and cold food cold” become your food safety mantra. The temperature danger zone for food is between 4 °C (40 °F) to 60 °C (140 °F). Keep foods above or below these temperatures.
- Keep your refrigerator at 40°F/4°C or lower and your freezer at -18 °C (0 °F) or lower.
- Bring raw meat, fish, or poultry home from the grocery store and refrigerate as soon as possible or within two hours in the cooler months. If it’s in the summer, put it in ASAP.
- Store raw meat, fish, and poultry away from other foods in separate containers to prevent any raw juices dripping on other foods. Best place to store them is on the bottom shelf.
- Store raw meat, fish, or poultry no longer than two to three days in the refrigerator. If it’s any longer than that, freeze and thaw as needed.
- When freezing foods, place in a freezer bag or container to avoid freezer burn and label with the date.
- Don’t overcrowd your fridge as you need proper cold air circulation.
- Thawing: even though your mom may have thawed frozen meat, fish, and poultry on the kitchen counter, doesn’t mean it gets the green light. NEVER thaw anything on the kitchen counter. Thaw in the fridge, in the microwave, or in a sink full of cold water changing the water every 30 minutes.
- The only way to tell that meat, fish, and poultry is cooked is with a food thermometer. Investing in one is the most important tool in food safety you will have.
- Have a pot of chili on the stove for a crowd? Keep hot foods at or above 60ºC (140°F).
- Cooked meat, fish, and poultry should be stored in separate containers within one – two hours after being cooked and should be eaten within two to four days. Remember you can’t smell bacteria until it’s so far gone that food poisoning is sure to occur. When in doubt, throw it out.
For more of Mairlyn’s great tips, check out the videos below:
Courtesy Mairlyn Smith