Food Handling is Just as Important in the Home as in a Restaurant
We all have to eat and most of us prepare meals. Even though we aren't preparing meals for customers, many of us prepare meals for ourselves, our families and guests. There are even some of us who prepare food as a volunteer or for community events. How we handle the food we eat and prepare can result in a safe and tasty meal, or it may result in making ourselves and others seriously ill. Although food borne illness is highly under reported, public health experts estimate that between 11 and 13 million cases of food borne illness occur each year in Canada. Many of these cases are a result of poor food handling habits in the home. If food is not handled safely from the time we purchase it, store it in our homes, prepare it, cook it, cool it and serve it, a tasty meal can result in food borne illness. Symptoms of food borne illness may include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever and may last from hours to several days. So it only makes sense to prevent it. There is a simple recipe for safe food that is easy to follow and includes the following steps:
- Separate (keep raw and ready-to-eat foods separate when you shop, store and prepare foods)
- Clean (wash hands, fruits & vegetables, counter tops and utensils before you start and between tasks)
- Cook (cook foods to the recommended temperature and keep hot foods hot at 60° C or higher)
- Chill (cool foods in shallow containers and keep cold foods cold at 4° C or lower).
It is important to know that most bacteria that cause food borne illness do not taste or smell bad, so they don't alert us that they are lurking in our food. A lapse in any one of the steps to food safety can result in an opportunity for bacteria to grow to harmful levels and cause illness.