Cooking School

Food safety in the kitchen

By: The Canadian Living Test Kitchen

Author: Canadian Living

Cooking School

Food safety in the kitchen

By: The Canadian Living Test Kitchen

Kitchen Savvy

• Before starting to cook, wash your hands thoroughly with hot water and soap for 20 seconds before rinsing. Wash your hands after using the toilet or blowing your nose.

• Keep a clean kitchen. Cleanliness is a cook's best friend. Bacteria from raw food can spread from the food item to a countertop or from the cutting board to utensils, sponges and dishcloths.

• Change your dishcloths and tea towels everyday. Scour your sink and countertops every day.

• Invest in two different cutting boards: one for raw meat, seafood and poultry, and another for ready-to-eat foods such as breads, fruits and vegetables.

• After working with raw meat, seafood or poultry, always wash cutting boards and utensils with a mixture of 1 tbsp (15 mL) chlorine bleach to 4 cups (1 L) water, soaking them in the solution for 45 seconds before rinsing. Since bacteria can seep in and set up residence in cracks, always discard any old or scarred wooden or plastic cutting boards. Always wash your hands in hot, soapy water for 20 seconds after handling raw meat, seafood or poultry.

• Wash your can opener after every use.

• Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables before eating or cooking. For salad greens, use a salad spinner after washing to remove the rinse water.

• Cook meat, poultry and eggs to advised doneness (see Meat Doneness Chart).

• Keep hot foods hot, above 140?F (60?C), and cold foods cold, below 40?F (4?C).

• Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible, never leaving cooked foods at room temperature for longer than two hours.

• To quick-chill make-ahead or leftover items, divide large amounts into small, shallow, uncovered containers. Refrigerate, leaving enough airspace around each container to allow circulation of cold air. Cover or top with lid when cold.

• Large quantities of very hot food should be cooled down for 30 minutes before refrigerating so as not to overburden the refrigerator's cooling system.

• Periodically check your refrigerator and freezer temperatures; refrigerators should be at 40?F (4?C) or below and freezers should be at O?F (-18?C) or below.

• Store eggs in their cartons in the coldest part of your refrigerator, not in the door trays. Always discard cracked eggs. Respect the best-before date.

Cooking Savvy

• Don't put any cooked meat, seafood or poultry on a plate that has come in contact with raw meat, poultry or seafood. The same goes for any utensils that touched these ingredients when raw. Use clean tongs and lifters to turn and remove cooked food from the skillet, oven or grill.

• Use a meat thermometer. Always check that the food in question is cooked to the right temperature (see Meat Doneness Chart).

• Completely thaw frozen meat, poultry or fish before cooking. Never thaw at room temperature. Thaw on a plate or tray on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so that juices do not drip onto other foods. Calculate five hours per pound (500 g). To quick-thaw, immerse wrapped frozen item in cold water for one hour per pound (500 g), changing water often.

• Never refreeze partially thawed meat without cooking it first. Do not buy previously frozen food that has thawed.

• Don't attempt to cook food in stages as this encourages still-active bacteria to multiply.

• Buy all fish and shellfish from reputable sources with a high turnover.

• Never reuse grocery bags or meat trays that once carried any raw meat, seafood or poultry.

• Be aware that even acidic foods such as fruit juices are susceptible to cross-contamination if they have not been pasteurized. Pasteurization removes all doubt by killing all bacteria with high heat.

Picnics and Hot-Weather Awareness

• Keep serving times outdoors as short as possible.

• When enjoying a picnic, chill food before packing and always keep your food covered and chilled inside coolers well stocked with ice and ice packs.

• Place coolers in the shade for as long as possible.

• Plan amounts carefully to avoid leftovers; discard any uneaten meat, poultry, seafood, salads or dairy products.

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Cooking School

Food safety in the kitchen