When it comes to health and nutrition, many people focus mostly about the types of food they put in their body. Eating more fruits and vegetables, lowering carb intake, and cutting back on sweets are all common ways to improve nutrition. However, one aspect of healthy food intake that some people do not consider is sanitary food prep. However, this is a vitally important aspect of health, especially in the food and restaurant industries.
Food preparation might not be something people think about regularly. However, this also impacts the quality and health of what you put in your body. If your surfaces and equipment are not sanitized, then when you eat what you cook, you will also be ingesting potential hazards.
Whether you mostly cook for yourself or are planning on cooking for others in a business or restaurant setting, it is extremely important that you know how to properly prepare your kitchen. There are some requirements for making sure food prep is sanitary enough, and a few of the tips below may help you stay on top of things.
Make the Kitchen Sink Your Best Friend
Wash your hands. While this is simple, it cannot be overstated how important regular hand washing is—especially as many people skip it, or fail to wash between different sections of cooking.
Experts agree that washing your hands regularly is one of the best ways you can combat food contamination. Just washing your hands for about 20 seconds under running water with soap can mitigate the risks of food poisoning and other problems. Don’t forget to wash vegetables or fruits before you peel them as well.
By washing your hands, food items, and all equipment regularly, you will reduce the risk of cross contamination. Be sure to also wash your hands after touching computer keyboards and your phone. These surfaces do not get washed often and can be a major source of contaminants.
Separate Your Cutting Surfaces
Another way to avoid cross-contamination is by separating your cutting surfaces. If you are doing any cutting by hand, you should use separate cutting boards for different items. Pick one board for produce and another for things like raw meats or eggs. Make sure you keep the utensils separate as well.
By separating your cutting surfaces and cutting implements, you will once again make cross-contamination less likely. While this will make your prep take more time and space, it will improve your health and lower the risk of unhealthy items getting into your food.
Use Custom Knives
Many people regularly use and are satisfied with regular, store-bought utensils. While general items may be bought from the store, sometimes higher quality, custom implements are better at avoiding contaminants and standing the test of time. This is because they will be sharper and more effective at slicing potentially dangerous raw foods like meat.
Unlike standard knives, custom-made moulding knives are sharp blades made in specific shapes or sizes that you will see in large machines that deal with food. Manufacturers can create custom knives that match the specific brands or models of machines restaurant kitchens might use.
Check Temperatures Regularly
Be sure to check the temperature of your food. This is best done with a food thermometer. Most foods come with minimum temperature recommendations for safe cooking. This is meant to make sure any bad bacteria present dies before you finish food preparation.
Foods such as poultry, ground beef, or pork roasts all have different recommended temperatures. Look up what their temperatures are and be sure to follow FDA regulations. Use a food thermometer to check these temps accurately, and you will be sure to keep your cooked meat safe for yourself or others.
Refrigerate Items Promptly
Most foods need to be kept cool if you are not planning to use them for some time. In many cases, you should aim to refrigerate milk, meat, eggs, vegetables, or fruits within two hours of purchasing them. If you have warm foods, you can divide them into various containers so that they’ll cool quickly.
Follow Microwave Standing Times
You may use a kitchen microwave to prepare or reheat some foods. It is a good idea to learn your microwave’s wattage. A lower wattage means you might need to cook foods longer than average. Letting some dishes stand for a few minutes can give foods time to take heat from hotter areas and apply it to cold spots for more thorough cooking.
Keeping food preparation sanitary for the health of those you are serving can involve several steps. However, many of the requirements involved will become familiar over time. Use some of the tips above to bolster your clean food preparation checklists. Although washing is important, remember that you should not wash meats or eggs. Washing foods like these can spread germs due to juices splashing in the kitchen.