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Seven Mistakes That Make Healthy Food Hazardous


Source: Consumer Reports

You know you can't cut vegetables on the same board as meat, and using a meat thermometer is the only way to make sure it's done properly. But even experienced housewives sometimes make mistakes that turn tasty and healthy foods into a source of food poisoning. What are we doing wrong?

Photo: Shutterstock

1. Reuse fabric shopping bag

Bags made from cloth can be a breeding ground for bacteria.

“Raw meat bags can juice and contaminate the outside of the package and the inside of the bag,” says Sana Mujahid, Ph.D., food safety research manager at Consumer Reports.

What to do? Despite this, it is not worth going back to plastic. Wash shopping bags frequently in the machine using hot water. At the store, wrap raw meat bags in plastic wrap and seal tightly before transferring to a cloth bag. If you want to be even more careful, put all raw meat, poultry, and seafood in disposable bags and set aside one cloth bag exclusively for these items.

2. Storage of meat on the upper shelves of the refrigerator

Diseases caused by bacteria from raw meat or poultry can spread to foods that you would never suspect could be contaminated. Example: A few years ago, 60 people who worked for the same company in Connecticut were struck by a potentially deadly strain of E. coli. It turned out that they all ate chicken fingers in the company canteen. This caused confusion as chicken is a very atypical source of this type of bacteria. It turned out that the culprit was partially cooked beef that had been stored right above the already fried chicken fingers. Juices from the beef dripped onto the chicken, which was served without further cooking.

What to do? Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Make sure everything is stored securely in containers or sealed plastic bags to prevent contamination of other foods. Clean up any liquid leaks in the refrigerator immediately and thoroughly clean the shelves and other surfaces inside at least once a month. As an added safety measure, you can wipe down surfaces with a mixture of one teaspoon of bleach per liter of water.

3. Poultry washing before cooking

There is no reason for this either from a hygiene or culinary point of view. In addition, it can lead to infection. Poultry washing is spilling bacteria all over the sink, countertops, and nearby dishes.

What to do? Just skip this step and save time at the same time.

4. Insufficient hand washing

Everyone knows how important it is to wash your hands before preparing food, but few people do it with the necessary frequency. The Department of Agriculture evaluated the habits of nearly 400 people who cooked turkey burgers in a special experimental kitchen. In two-thirds of the cases where participants were required to wash their hands, they did not. And even when they washed, very few did it right.

Not washing often enough can cause you to carry bacteria to some unexpected places. In this experiment, the researchers treated meat with a harmless “virus.” Almost half of the people spread it to salt and pepper, food jars and spice containers touched while cooking. Approximately 10% contaminated the faucets and handles of the refrigerator with the “virus”.

“Bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter can survive on hard surfaces for several hours,” Mujahid said.

What to do? Wash your hands before you start cooking and every time you switch from task to task. For example, after placing a raw chicken in a baking dish, wash your hands before sprinkling it with salt and herbs. Every time you wash your hands, use soap and rub it vigorously into your skin for at least 20 seconds before rinsing off with warm running water. The biggest mistake the study participants made was not washing their hands properly with soap.

5. Using gadgets during cooking

Mobile phones and tablets are the new cookbooks. While we are busy in the kitchen, we listen to music, look for recipes, communicate in social networks. Nearly half of the 4000 people who participated in the 2016 Food and Drug Administration and USDA Food Safety Survey used a mobile device while preparing food, but only about a third of those people washed their hands afterwards. Although the studies did not link “mobile device use and food poisoning,” cell phones and tablets can be a source of bacteria that can easily be transferred to food.

What to do? Some interviewees said they use their little fingers, elbows, or knuckles to touch their phone in the kitchen. But it is better not to touch him at all, and if you had to, for example, answer a call or write something, you need to wash your hands after that.

6. Inattention to the temperature of the refrigerator

Some types of pathogenic bacteria can quickly multiply and spread in your refrigerator if the temperature inside is not low enough.

What to do? Use a refrigerator thermometer to check the temperature regularly. It should be below 40°F (4°C), but experts recommend 37°F (2-3°C) as ideal) and no higher than 0°F (-17°C) in the freezer for optimal food safety .

7. No ban on pets in the kitchen

It is best to completely ban pets from entering the kitchen as they can spread pathogens. If this is not possible, then at least not let cats and other animals climb onto tables and countertops (remember they go to the litter box!).

What to do? Don't leave food on the tables so that the cat doesn't get positive reinforcement: if she climbs there, it will make her behavior a habit. Or try this tip from the Animal Humane Society: Buy some inexpensive plastic mats and stick double-sided tape on one side. Cover tables and work area with them (tape up!) when not in use. Cats do not like the feeling of sticking and will quickly wean themselves from walking on tables.

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