Food ought to taste great and be a source of nourishment, but when the opposite is the case, it becomes a source of concern. Improper food handling can make the body sick, rather than provide nourishment. Poor handling could occur either during preservation or preparation. Poor food hygiene will cause symptoms like diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. However, food-borne diseases can be avoided by following some safety measures and imbibing proper food handling procedures.
Safety Measures on Food Purchase
Always look out for freshness, especially for perishable food items. Buy fresh foods – fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy, and eggs. Don’t buy food items that have abnormal smell or color. Ensure that food items are clean and free from cracks or broken skin before purchase, especially eggs and fruits. This is important because bacteria can enter through any opening on the food items.
For fresh produce, check the ‘best by’ and/or ‘sell by’ dates to be sure the items are still for consumption. On packaged foods, read labels properly to acquaint yourself with the expiry date, how to store and prepare, as well as the ingredients of the food you spend your money on.
Safety Measures on Food Storage
Food items should be stored at the right temperatures; 5°C for freezing and 18°C for refrigeration. This is crucial because the right temperature will help inhibit the action of microorganisms on food items, thus keeping your food fresh.
Avoid crowding the refrigerator shelves, to allow free airflow reach all items and help maintain a consistent temperature. Meat, poultry, and fish should be stored in separate plastic bags or bowls so blood or fluid won’t contaminate other items in the fridge. Also separate fruits and vegetables, so that the gases they give off don’t affect other things.
Store your non-perishable food items properly, away from the reach of household pests and rodents. Use air-tight containers and bags, as well as jar lids with screw bands that seal properly. Store your food away from heat sources like the cooker, electrical appliances, and sunlight.
Safety Measures on Food Preparation
Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables with clean running water. Scrub farm produce – like carrots, melons, cucumbers, cabbages, and the likes – to remove dirt before consumption. Maintain separate chopping boards for meat and vegetables to avoid contamination, as most vegetables are eaten raw or only half-cooked. Always wash your hands before cooking or preparing meals.
Don’t overcook vegetables. Add them to sauces and soups when everything else is ready and leave to steam for 2 minutes, so as not to diminish the nutritional value of the vegetables. Consume leftovers within 3-4 days or throw them away.
Your health is of paramount importance, take good care of what goes into your system; handle your food the right way, and keep living healthy!