Food & Wine
5 food safety tips for proper food handling
In light of recent food poisoning cases around the world – a salmonella outbreak in the US in June that sickened over 100 people was linked to contaminated pre-cut melons and several people in Australia died because of contaminated rockmelons in February – it is more important than ever to get up to speed about the right way to handle food.
Closer to home, Malaysian and Singaporean netizens were shocked by a video that circulated on social media in June this year of staff at a Bangsar, KL, eatery washing plates in a dirty puddle.
Contamination can occur at several junctures, such as during the production of the food, the processing of raw materials, and even during the transport and display of the food.
When a food product finally makes it to the kitchen, it is also in danger of cross contamination, which is the transfer of bacteria or viruses through the use of contaminated items such as knives or chopping boards.
Be vigilant and adopt these 5 food safety tips to minimise the risk of food poisoning.
1. Picking up refrigerated and frozen items last
At the supermarket, pick up your refrigerated and frozen items last, just before you make your way to the checkout counter.
Choose chilled items that have been properly packed without any tear in the packaging.
If you are looking to shed some dollars from your grocery bill, try these supermarket shopping hacks.
2. Buy raw meats that have been properly displayed
Never buy chilled or frozen items that have been displayed at room temperature.
If you do most of your grocery shopping at the wet market*, this is particularly important. Take note of how the raw seafood and meats are being displayed.
Are they in a chiller? Is there sufficient ice packed around the items to ensure they’re stored at a safe temperature?
Once you get your meat home, you still have to cook it, however. Try this version of a classic stroganoff that stretches a modest portion of meat.
* For those in Australia and New Zealand, the wet market is an Asian grocery store that sells fresh meat and produce.
3. Bringing the food home safely
Our hot and humid weather can provide extra challenges when it comes to keeping our food safe.
If your journey home will take longer than 30 minutes, keep your chilled and frozen items in an insulated bag and make use of the free ice that is provided by some supermarkets to keep the items well chilled.
Store the items in the fridge as quickly as possible.
4. Storing raw foods properly
Raw foods should be kept separate from cooked foods while in the fridge.
Different types of raw foods (e.g., meat, eggs, vegetables) should also be kept separately from each other to avoid cross contamination.
If you’re not planning to cook the meat in the next three to five days, it’s best to freeze it.
Get the most out of your beef buy with these delicious and easy beef skewers with ginger dipping sauce.
5. Avoid buying pre-cut fruits
If you’re concerned about the cases of contaminated pre-cut fruit, you may want to buy a whole fruit and cut it up yourself at home.
Wash the fruit properly by rubbing it with your hands under running water.
If you’re cutting it up, use a separate chopping board than the one you use for raw meat.
In a race to eat all of your fruit purchases before they all spoil? Try bottling it as a preserve!