Living healthy means following a balanced diet that supplies essential nutrients for bodily functions and exercising regularly to improve muscular and cardiovascular strength. Authority Health is a top resource with insightful tips and suggestions on how to maintain great overall health. That being said, avoiding risks associated with diet is also dependent on the ways in which we store and prepare our food as well as where we source it from. Following these few simple tips will help you minimize the risk of foodborne diseases and thus save you expensive trips to the doctor.
1. Willingly Wash
Wash your hands regularly. This should be an ingrained habit already but if not, be sure to instill the habit. If you have young ones that are not routinely washing then now has never been a better time to implement regular washing periods. Ensure that you and your family wash with warm soapy water 20 seconds before and after handling food. This will kill off toxic bacteria. If you have stubborn children then offer them rewards for regular washing such as a sweet treat after supper or a monthly trip to the drive-thru.
2. Keep Surfaces Clean
This is another consideration that is often overlooked. Maintaining kitchen hygiene plays a pivotal role in ensuring that harmful bacteria does not spawn and spread to areas where food is prepared. Make a habit of cleaning countertops and chopping boards immediately after use. If you do it then and there, chores won’t start piling up in the future. Maintaining a clean chopping board is vitally important. Bacteria from uncooked meat can live inside the cracks and cuts of chopping boards and diseases like salmonella can start to form. It is wise to have two separate boards; one for meats and one for produce. You might also want to consider the type of chopping board that you are using. Plastic boards are easier to sanitize but form deep grooves where bacteria can hide while wooden boards require more maintenance but are not prone to deep surface cuts. Check out this handy resource for tips on how to care for your wooden chopping board. Be sure to clean countertops with a powerful detergent. If you are worried about using harmful cleaning chemicals in the kitchen, then you can easily and cost-effectively make your own surface cleaner.
3. Defrost The Right Way
Do not let frozen foods thaw on the counter. The center of the food will remain frozen much longer than the outer portions of the food. The unfrozen parts will reach 40 – 140 degrees Fahrenheit long before the center and it is at this temperature that bacteria multiply extremely fast. The best methods for defrosting are in the refrigerator, microwave, or in cold water. Some perishable goods may indicate which is the best method so, be sure to read packaging labels for any instructions. These methods will ensure that the entire portion of food is defrosted to the same temperature. Once thawed, cook the food immediately to prevent the formation of bacteria in foods sitting at room temperature.
4. Cook Away Toxicity
Always cook meat to the right temperatures to eliminate any toxic bacteria. While it may feel warm on the outside, a food thermometer will help you assess the internal temperature of food to minimize potential health risks. A general rule of thumb for temperatures for specific meats can be seen below:
- Roasts and steaks – 145 F (degrees Fahrenheit)
- Poultry – 165 F
- Ground Beef (Burgers) – 160 F
- Ground Chicken – 165 F
5. Eat Local Produce
Sourcing produce from local farmers can make the world of difference to both the taste and health qualities of your dishes. Mass consumed meats are often prepared using ethically questionable methods and store-bought vegetables may not retain the freshness and subsequent nutrients of their locally grown counterparts. Opting for fresh produce from farmers will sustainably support the local community as well as be a source of nutritional foods that have not been tampered with. This minimizes the spread of harmful diseases from contaminated foods, for example, the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.
Following these few simple steps to ensure that you prepare, store and source food correctly will inhibit harmful infections and diseases from spreading and causing health troubles for your family. This will save you plenty of money in the long run!