Food Safety Tips for Stay-home Meal Preparation
Are you dishing out more meals from your kitchen during this stay-home period? Homecooked meals are healthier and you can help your family load up on immune-boosting food too. However, it is important not to compromise on food safety during meal preparation which could make one pretty sick.
Why is stay-home food safety so important? The correct food preparation methods reduce the risk against foodborne illnesses from bacteria. These include E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Listeria and they can result in diarrhoea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and dehydration.
What are some ways of ensuring food safety at home? Find out what are the do’s and don'ts to prepare delicious meals with safety as priority.
How to prepare raw food safely
When it comes to handling raw food, we need to be mindful about cross-contamination. This can happen when bacteria from raw meat transfers to another raw ingredient or vice versa. Cross contamination can also happen when raw food and cooked food are mixed.
- Store raw food away from cooked ingredients and ready-to-eat food.
- Use different kitchen utensils and separate plates to handle raw meat and cooked food e.g. 1 pair of scissors for cutting raw ingredients only, different chopping boards and knives for raw food.
- Look out for liquids from raw meat and place them in containers to avoid them dripping onto other ingredients.
- Wash all cutlery, kitchen tools and equipment thoroughly after using.
What’s the right way to handle frozen food and thawing them correctly?
Is it safe to leave frozen food to thaw on the countertop? How about using hot water to defrost frozen meat?
A key point to remember about thawing frozen food – the inactive bacteria present on those hard and cold meat become active at room temperature.
You can use the microwave to defrost frozen seafood, leave the frozen food in the refrigerator overnight or submerge the frozen ingredients in cool water. Read this to find out how to thaw frozen seafood safely at home!
Preparing fruits and washing vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins and fibre in our daily diet. The Ministry of Health of Singapore recommends an intake of half plate portion of fruits and vegetables as part of the My Healthy Plate initiative to promote healthier, balanced meals. But don’t start munching on them without washing!
- Wash uncut fruits and vegetables thoroughly to remove bacteria, dirt, soil and any chemicals before eating or cooking.
- Soak vegetables in a tub of clean water for 15 minutes. You may use a fruit and vegetable washing solution, if preferred, and follow the instructions accordingly.
- Some people prefer to use a veggie and fruit scrub cloth to pre-clean any unwanted wax or pesticides before washing and soaking.
Food safety tips when cooking meals at home
Imagine stepping home to warm comforting meals – what a bliss! Eating together as a family is an enjoyment and a great opportunity to catch up on each other’s day.
When it comes to cooking, safe food handling remains a priority after ingredients preparation to ensure food is safe for eating. Food poisoning can also result due to improper reheating of contaminated cooked food.
- Cook raw meats at high temperatures to destroy most bacteria.
- Cook seafood such as fish and prawns fully, especially when cooking for young kids, senior folks and pregnant women.
- Serve hot food immediately after cooking. Enjoy hot food when they’re still hot to reduce the risk of bacterial growth.
- For unfinished cooked food, reheat at 75 °C and above to kill any bacteria.
Some folks prefer their beef steak or other beef cuts to be medium rare, so some parts of the meat might be red or bloody. Be mindful when handling raw meat and have them while they are still hot to minimise bacteria multiplying when they cool down. Similarly, some foods are best savoured partially cooked such as a runny Eggs Benedict recipe, so do purchase fresh eggs and quality meats from a reputable grocery provider.
How should you store leftovers safely?
With unfinished cooked food, there are toxic pathogens that linger around. Deciding between tossing and storing, most people do the sniff or taste test to decide. Should you decide to keep those leftovers, what is the best way to store them to reduce the risk of food poisoning?
#1: Divide the leftovers into portions and store in food-safe containers
Cooked leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer within two hours. Split them into serving portions and keep them in food-safe containers with lids or resealable freezer-safe bags.
#2: Store cooked leftovers away from raw meat
Avoid the risk of cross contamination by ensuring cooked leftovers are kept separately and away from any raw ingredients in the refrigerator and freezer compartment. Label your stored cooked food with dates and do practice first-in-first-out when consuming them.
#3: Thaw frozen leftovers in the refrigerator
Similar to what we’ve shared earlier when it comes to handling frozen food and thawing them, the best way to reduce bacteria contamination is to thaw frozen leftovers in the refrigerator.
#4: Reheat thoroughly to destroy all bacteria
This is an important step no matter how busy we are. High temperatures help to kill all bacteria present on the thawed cooked food or cold leftovers. Give it a good stir and check that food is boiling before eating.
For peace of mind when it comes to food safety, one of the ways is to order fresh produce from a trusted grocery delivery partner in Singapore like TADA Fresh Market. Enjoy greater savings and convenience when you cart out fresh fish, meat, vegetables, fruit and more online and simply wait for your delivery at home!