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Food-safety basics for home cooking

All cooks need to know some basic safety rules in order to keep themselves and their food safe. Before preparing your next meal, consider these tips from certified food-service educator Katherina Griley.


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Food-safety basics for home cooking

Skipping out on simple food-safety rules may have bigger consequences than you think. Here are a few reminders to help keep you healthy.

Proper hand washing: Most people just quickly rinse their hands for a few seconds before preparing food.  In order for hand washing to be an effective means of food safety, it has to be done often and properly.
Defrosting on the countertop: Because one bacterium can multiply to over 1 billion in just 10 hours, leaving your food to defrost on the countertop while you are sleeping or at work can result in some bad stuff.
Cross-contamination: Do you use the same cutting board for your chicken, and then your vegetables without washing, rinsing and sanitizing in between?  If so, you are guilty of cross-contamination!
Undercooking  food: Do you have and use a thermometer in your home kitchen? If not, you should.
Keeping leftovers for too long: Just because the leftovers are stored in the refrigerator does not mean they will be good forever!

Correct storage methods

Whether putting food in the refrigerator, the freezer or the cupboard, you have plenty of opportunities to prevent food-borne illnesses. Here are some storage basics. (Adapted from FDA food-storage guidelines.)

  • Refrigerate or freeze perishables right away.
  • Keep appliances at the proper temperatures.
  • Check storage directions on labels.
  • Use ready-to-eat food as soon as possible.
  • Be alert for spoiled food.
  • Be aware that food that does not look, smell or even taste bad can make you sick.

For more food-safety myths and facts, check out Fight Bac! mythbusters and USDA's recommendations on washing food.

By Katherina Griley
Director of Culinary Arts
The Art Institute of California – Sacramento


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