Keep your raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs products separate from all other foods when you're grocery shopping. It's always a good idea to try to keep your raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from the other food items in your shopping cart. This way, you don't risk bacteria frolicking at your expense. When you checkout, have the staff put the raw items in your designated bags or plastic bags. This will keep any chance of their juices from dripping onto your other food items. Triple yuck!
Separate your meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from your other food in fridge. They might shout out they are lonely, but don't listen. It's just that sneaky bacteria at it again. Just like you did at the grocery, store your raw products in special containers or sealed plastic bags to stop their juices from dripping or leaking on your other food items. If you're not going to use the raw items right away, freeze them instead. As for eggs, you really want to keep and store them in their original packaging, and in the main part of your frig - not in the door where the temperature might vary too much.
Here's a scary fact for you: bacteria that cause food poisoning multiply quickest in the "danger zone" between 40˚ and 140˚ Fahrenheit. There are a lot of folks (and it could be you!) that think they can tell when their food is "done" by checking its color and texture. You want to be 100% sure it's safe? Follow these tips:
Arm yourself with a food thermometer. Cooked food is safe only after it's been heated to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Color and texture alone will not tell you if your food is done. Don't have one? Buy one. When you think your food is done, stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the food, (try not to touch bone, fat, or gristle). Wait the amount of time recommended for your type of thermometer. Some foods need a few minutes to "rest" after cooking. This helps to make sure the icky, sneaky germs are killed. Clean your food thermometer with hot, soapy water after each use.
Keep your delicious and yummy food hot after cooking (at 140˚F or above to be safe). It is possible for bacteria to grow as your food cools down. The bacteria are so sneaky - they take advantage of the drop in temperature and start to thrive. This is where food poisoning comes into play. You can keep your food above or at the safe temperature of 140˚F by using a heat source like a chafing dish, warming tray, or slow cooker. There are lots of solutions to beat bacteria at it's devious game.
Microwave your food thoroughly (to 165˚F). You want to know for certain that you've killed those bacterial invaders? You are going to have to microwave your raw foods until they reach a temperature of 165˚ or higher. When you microwave your food products, you'll want to stir your food in the middle of heating. If the instructions say, "Let stand for x minutes after cooking," don't ignore the standing time. When you let microwaved food sit for a few minutes, it actually helps your food cook more by allowing the colder areas of food absorb the heat from the hotter areas. That extra minute or two could mean the difference between a yummy meal and having a bellyache or worse. For those who want to, you could check the food with a food thermometer to make sure it is 165˚F or above.
Are you sick of bacteria yet? Here's another fact that will gross you out. Did you know that illness-causing bacteria can grow in and on your perishable food items within two hours unless you refrigerate them? Here is another piece of trivia to keep in mind. If the temperature is 90˚F or higher during the summer, cut that time down to one hour! Quadruple yuck for those counting!
The solution is simple. By refrigerating foods promptly and properly, you can help keep your family safe from food poisoning at home.