Food safety is a number one priority in restaurants and for home cooks. Failing to meet those safety standards can make employees or customers sick, just ask Martha Stewart. Stewart said this week that she got Salmonella from touching too many Thanksgiving turkeys. Stewart said she was in bed for several days.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, Salmonella is the most common source of food poisoning. It can be transmitted primarily from bacteria in uncooked or undercooked meat and poultry. Salmonella infections can cause all kinds of symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, fever, chills and body aches.
Salmonella infections are avoidable with the proper food safety techniques, courtesy of the US Department of Agriculture:
1) Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often. When you are working with raw meat or poultry especially, make sure to wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before you move onto your next dish. Clean and sanitize any cutting boards or prep surfaces before you work with other foods.
2) Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate. Keep any utensils, platters and other prep tools used for raw foods separate from those used for vegetables and prepared food items. Use color-coded cleaning supplies to ensure any lingering bacteria from one section of your home or restaurant does not contaminate other areas.
3) Cook: Cook to the proper temperature. Visit www.foodsafety.gov for a list of common food items and the temperatures necessary to kill any bacteria.
4) Chill: refrigerate properly. Bacteria can grow in prepared food within two hours if it is not cooled down properly. Click here for tips on how to cool down food items to keep customers and your family safe.
A good way to help prevent cross-contamination and foodborne illnesses is to wear disposable gloves during food preparation. The gloves must be changed often, especially after you touch/prepare raw meats, poultry, fish, etc. You should wash your hands with soap and water every time you switch gloves.
If you have any concerns over when a food prep item was last cleaned, go ahead and clean it. Taking a couple of extra minutes to ensure a cutting board, knife or prep station is fully sanitized will make a big difference and help prevent you and others from becoming sick.