Tips on how to keep your food safe to stay healthy

Food Safety Day 2020

Food safety is a shared responsibility with everyone from governments to producers to consumers, like us, having a part to play in it. Now more than ever, we need to be vigilant about the way we handle our food in our kitchen to stay healthy. Children with cancer, because their immune systems are compromised, have to be very careful with what they eat, how their food is cooked and cleaned, and how it is stored. These are some tips we share with families, but almost all of them are relevant to anyone and especially for those with a weak immune system. 

Avoid cross-contamination: Foods like poultry, meat, fish tend to spread their bacteria to the other food products if they are stored together. Juices from these food products leak out to the other food items and pass on the bacteria. It is therefore important to separate these food items from other foods while shopping, storing and even cooking.

Practice personal hygiene: This is even more relevant and important today as we battle a contagious virus. Before preparing or eating any food, wash your hands with clean water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds. Wash all food items thoroughly under running water as soon as you get them home. Wash fish and chicken with salt and water. Make sure you wash and sanitise your kitchen counters regularly. Use a clean cloth to wipe plates and spoon after the wash. Do not let washed utensils stay out for a long time.

The 2-hour principle: Do not leave cooked food outside at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Refrigerate cooked food and perishables as quickly as possible. Do not store food for too long, even in the refrigerator. Dry ingredients like grains, sugar, dals etc. should be stored in clean airtight containers in dry areas of the kitchen. Always follow the first in first out principle.

Avoid re-heating: Avoid heating refrigerated food multiple times. Constantly exposing food to different temperatures can turn it rancid.

Check expiry dates: Always check the expiry date of all packaged products before purchasing them. Do not consume packaged food items that do not have an expiry date.

Avoid jewellery when cooking: Avoid wearing rings and bangles while preparing food, especially if your chopping, kneading dough or mixing food using your bare hands. Dirt stuck in these ornaments tends to slip into the food. Keep your fingernails short and avoid the use of nail polish because it can chip into the food. Cover all cuts and wounds with waterproof bandaids and change them regularly.

Hope these pointers are useful and help you keep your food safe and healthy.

About Shreya Gupta

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