is the best teacher except when it comes to safety
in the kitchen. A few tips will make your kitchen a safer place.
meat should reach a minimal internal temperature of
160. Ground poultry should reach 165 degrees; beef and lamb should reach 145; pork should be at 160
and poultry at 170. Many people prefer lower temperatures or rarer
meats, but these should be avoided when there are risk factors
such as age or illness.
foods have been cooked, they should be kept in a refrigerator
or in a heated container above 140. Perishable
foods should remain between these temperatures
to 139) for no more than two hours. Bacteria can readily
grow between these temperatures. Toxins will also be produced.
a thermometer to test your refrigerator and freezer. The
refrigerator should be kept between 35
to 40. The freezer should be at 0
or lower. Bacteria present in foods will not be
killed at 0
but will be prevented from growing. Bacteria
present in foods kept at 40
or lower will have less chance to multiply.
Cook stuffing in a separate pan instead
of cooking in a poultry cavity—or check the internal
temperature of the stuffing. It should be at 165
Cleanliness to Prevent Illness
Always wash your hands in warm water and anti-bacterial soap
before handling food. Look for a natural Tea tree soap or soaps
that are scented like lemon or tomato from Williams Sonoma.
illnesses can be prevented. By washing your hands and all food
preparation surfaces and utensils, you will lower your risk. By
rinsing any surfaces which have been in contact with raw eggs,
meat and poultry with a bleach water solution, you take
cleanliness and safety a step further.
hands can spread food-borne bacteria to the refrigerator, door
handles, hot and cold sink faucets, dishcloths, countertops,
stove knobs, appliances, etc. This is less likely if you wash
your hands after handling raw meats and other uncooked foods.
wash all the kitchen utensils and equipment after preparing raw
cutting boards after preparing meat on them. Mix three
tablespoons of bleach to one quart of water and keep the surface
wet for at least two minutes. Rinse well. Bleach breaks down
into mostly salt and water so it won't leave an active residue
on the surface or flavor food. Oil the board when dry to protect
the wood. Keep bleach solution in a marked spray bottle.
white cotton dish clothes instead of sponges, which harbor
bacteria. Williams Sonoma has small cotton dish clothes which
can be used easily and washed with bleach in your washing
machine. Car detail rags also work very well. Wash the rags in
soap and bleach after each use. Kitchen dish brushes can be run
through the dishwasher at least once a day.
If you do fall ill with salmonella due
to unsafe handling of food, see your doctor. Food-borne illness
is often mistaken for the flu. In some cases it can be fatal.
Symptoms will appear anywhere from 30 minutes to two weeks after
an individual has come in contact with the bacteria. Sudden
symptoms in a number of individuals who all ate the same food is
a good indication that they have food poisoning. All food-borne
illness should be reported to your doctor and local health
To prevent burns, always use pot
holders or gloves. Never use gloves which have wet food spills
on them, as the moisture will create a steam burn when you touch
a hot surface. If you do burn yourself, immediately apply cool
water to the area. This will help to
remove the heat and prevent a severe burn. The Baker's Catalogue®
carries the best mitts and pot holders made from thick washable
the fruit and vegetable wash from the Walnut Acres catalog to
remove dirt, chemicals and insecticides. This catalog also
carries another product to wash away E. coli and salmonella from
fruits and vegetables. 1-800-433-3998 (Item 83658 and 83606)
Purchase a Flamestop fire extinguisher. Sprinkle a grease fire
with baking soda or salt.
Keep your freezer at 0
to protect frozen foods from contamination. At 10
harmful bacteria and enzymes responsible for
spoilage are reactivated.
a bag of ice cubes in your freezer when you leave for vacation,
if the ice has melted and re-frozen, you will know there was a
loss of power for a substantial amount of time.
a food has been frozen and thawed it should not be refrozen as
it will adversely affect the quality of the food.
freezing cooked foods, about three weeks is the maximum storage
your freezer and set for 0
. If it is any cooler your frozen foods will suffer
from freezer burn.
all frozen foods tightly to avoid air pockets which can allow
ice crystals to form.
your freezer two-thirds full and avoid over filling which could
cause the foods to take longer to freeze and may cause them to
your refrigerator temperature at 40
F or below. Store protein-rich foods in the
coldest part of the refrigerator. Milk will store well between
raw meat and poultry properly wrapped and placed in the bottom
of your refrigerator in a 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass dish to collect
juices. Always thaw frozen meats in the refrigerator in the same
way. Meats should be cooked immediately after thawing, so start
thawing a day ahead.
the power goes out, food will remain chilled for up to six hours
so long as you don't open the refrigerator door. Frozen foods
will last 1-2 days, depending on how full the freezer is.
all foods you will be taking on a picnic. Place the food in
sealed containers. To pre-cool the cooler, simply fill with ice.
An ice pack or ice should also be used to keep food cold.
raw fish in the refrigerator only if you intend to use it that
day or the next. Fish is best used the day it is purchased. If
fish is to be kept any longer it should be wrapped in freezer
paper and sealed in foil. Thaw fish in refrigerator overnight
and use it the next day. Marinate seafood in the refrigerator.
Clean up spills immediately.
keep vegetables fresh use special Evert-Fresh bags and a food
saver box to eliminate excess humidity. These boxes are
available through Walnut Acres. Evert-Fresh bags are available
through Dixie USA.
storing food in cabinets which are under the sink or have water,
or drain and heating pipes passing through them. These attract
insects and rodents through openings that are difficult to seal.
best way to store foods is in plastic storage containers with
tight-sealing lids. The food will keep longer when sealed.
Wash the tops of cans with soap and
water before opening if you see they are not clean.
To prevent spattering when frying, dry
wet food thoroughly before adding it to hot oil. Seasoned oils
with herbs should be refrigerated to prevent spoilage. Pine nuts
and other high-fat nuts and seeds should be refrigerated or kept
in the freezer to prevent the oils from turning rancid.
Knives or appliance blades left in
soapy water can be dangerous. Wash after use for the safest
dishwasher safe knives point side down in the dishwasher. Store
knives in a slotted block of wood specifically designed for
knife storage, as contact with other kitchen tools will dull
their edges. Remember to store out of reach of children.
Remove the entire lid when opening a
metal can, then put lid inside the empty can before disposing of
it. Never put broken glass in your plastic kitchen garbage.
Serious cuts on your legs can be avoided by wrapping glass in
paper bags and dispose directly in the outside garbage can.
on the Stove Top
Keep pot handles turned away from the
front of the stove.
Uncover pots by lifting the side of the lid away from you. Turn
burners off before pan is removed.
Keep vent fan free of grease by placing
it in the dishwasher for two cycles if needed. Prevents grease
fires. Keep baking soda or a fire extinguisher handy for
in the Oven
Always use dry oven mitts which are
lined and fit well. Never use a wet dish rag or a damp cloth, as
the heat will turn the moisture into burning steam.
Avoid leaning too near the oven as you
open it, especially when cooking at high temperatures. Never
pour wines over food during the cooking process in the oven,
when you close the door the fumes can create a large explosion.
I did this once!
Adjust oven racks before you turn on
the oven. Never adjust an oven rack while there is a casserole
or tray of food on it.
Keep your oven clean. It is a good idea
to clean your oven before the holiday baking season. If you are
planning to cook pies that you know may overflow, place a pan
lined with aluminum foil under the pan or buy a special pie
protector plate to set the pan on. This will save you many hours
Use eye protection, wear gloves and
keep windows and doors open while spraying oven cleaner, then
let set overnight. The liquid is very acidic and can burn your
skin. Wipe gloves so the cleaner doesn't run onto your arms.
Wipe door first, then clean inside. Rinse with a solution of
vinegar and water for a clean-smelling oven. Heat 10 minutes
before using again.
Avoid cooking in aluminum foil if you
are using acidic ingredients such as tomato sauce. A chemical
reaction will also occur when cooking tomatoes in aluminum pans.
The tomatoes may take on a brownish tinge and a metallic flavor
as the acid in the tomatoes reacts with the metal.
Use only dry oven mitts or pot holders
when handling hot pans. Moist
mitts will create steam and transfer heat. Watch your hand as it
enters the oven to remove items close to the top of oven. The
heating element can set oven mitts on fire and if you are using
a small oven pot holder you can also burn your hands or arms.
Dry hands before plugging in
appliances. Unplug electric mixer before removing beaters.
antibacterial soap for your hands and Lysol kitchen cleaner for
surfaces. A solution of 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 gallon of water
may be made for big cleanups or place the mixture in spray
bottles to spray and clean the counter.
Wipe up spills on the floor immediately
to prevent slipping and falling on the hard kitchen floor.
Wear short sleeves when cooking on gas
stove tops so that the fabric does not catch fire or snag on a
Keep children away from the stove and
never let them make their own gelatin, the boiling water can
cause serious burns. If you have small children, never leave hot
liquids close to the edge of the counter where little hands can
reach them. Always be aware when children are in the kitchen and
keep them occupied with crayons or toys away from the
prevent spoilage, store foods in plastic storage containers.
Look for bags especially made for fresh fruits and vegetables
and your produce will last weeks longer. Evert-Fresh bags from
Dixie USA, Inc. will help keep foods fresh. Never use a
container which held raw meats before you have washed it
thoroughly in hot soapy water. Preferably use a dishwasher.
When barbecuing, use only certified
starters for outdoor grilling.
Keep a water-filled sprayer bottle handy for minor
long-handled barbecue tools. Never leave the grill unattended
and wear an apron to prevent grease stains.
Use special mitts and long tools so you
don't singe the hair on your arms or burn your skin.
Chill foods you are taking to a picnic
before storing them in a cooler. Use enough ice to keep foods at
F. Keep cold drinks in a separate cooler to avoid
opening and closing the one storing the food.
at the Grocery Store
Pick up perishables after you have
shopped for all the non-perishable items. Perishables should be
home and back in a refrigerator within 30 minutes.
meats, fish and poultry in plastic bags – keep them in the
lower part of your shopping cart – so meat juices will not
drip on other groceries. Bag meats in butcher paper in a plastic
bag to keep cold. Frozen foods can also be placed in the same
bag as long as the meats have been wrapped in plastic. This will
keep everything cold until you arrive home. Fish should be kept
next to the frozen foods. Make a habit of picking up a package
of frozen peas and placing them in the bag with fresh fish. When
you arrive home, place fish in the coldest part of the
refrigerator in a plastic bag set on a frozen ice pack.
Grouping cold items will also help you
when you arrive home and try to find all the refrigerated and
If you shop for these items last and place them in one part of
your cart, they will be easier to bag together and put away
Shop at a grocery store close to your
home when you are purchasing meats and dairy products. Keep in
the coldest part of your car on the way home.
Check expiration dates on milk, eggs
and meat products. Pick the freshest items when you have a
choice between two expiration dates.
Don't leave your purse in the cart
while you walk around the corner to pick up an item.
When selecting fish, look for fish with
clear eyes that bulge a little. Whole fish and fillets should
have a firm and shiny flesh.
There should be no darkening around the edges of the fish
or brown or yellow discoloration. The fish should smell fresh
and not fishy.
Food Safety Tips
Bacon, lunch meats and hot dogs will
begin to spoil within one week of opening.
Eat or freeze refrigerated leftovers
within four days.
Use eggs within two weeks and check for
cracked eggs before you buy them. Store in the refrigerator, at
. Always wash your hands after handling and
breaking open eggs to prevent the spread of salmonella. Use an
egg separator instead of using the shells to separate the yolk
and egg white for an even more cautious approach. Salmonella in
eggs is a risk to the elderly, very young, those with medical
problems and pregnant women.
Raw eggs should never be served to these individuals and
should be avoided at other times even though less than 1 percent
of eggs have been found to harbor salmonella. It is better to be
safe than sorry. Most problems occur in the food industry and
not at home.
Raw egg whites are less likely to carry
and support bacterial growth than egg yolks, which are a better
medium for bacteria and should always be cooked or mixed with an
acid such as fresh lemon juice. A fresh egg will fall to the
base of a pan filled with water. If the egg turns on its side or
stands upright it is still fine. A very old egg will float and
should be discarded. To prevent eggs from spoiling, always
refrigerate and use within two weeks.
Never put cooked foods on a plate that
held raw foods! In other words, don't use the same plate to
bring cooked meat back inside from the barbeque unless you wash
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold
to avoid the invisible bacteria that grow in lukewarm foods.
ensure safe food handling prepare your dishes using the very
freshest food possible. Cook raw foods thoroughly before eating
and store ready-to-eat and cooked foods in different containers
separate from raw food to prevent the spread of bacteria from
one to the other.