You’re taking care of your food all wrong. You’re washing your meat, you’re waiting for it to cool down in room temperature to freeze, and you’re not cleaning your hands often enough. It is these things that are sending tens of thousands of people to the hospital with food poisoning. Food safety facts are often not talked about enough, but it is deadly, especially in places around the world with poor sanitation.
How poor is food safety? Let’s explore some of the information we have gathered over the years.
Here are nine food safety facts to know:
1. Diseases Spread Through Food
It has been estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) that more than 200 diseases are spread through food. The biggest killer is a diarrheal disease, which has claimed the lives of 1.5 million children. Believe it or not, correct food preparation can prevent most of these diseases from being born or taking people’s lives, whether it is washing hands or properly preparing the food.
2. Contamination Can Happen at Any Point
In the global economy, we are importing food from all over the world. That is the beauty of comparative advantage. Unfortunately, since there are a lot of steps to get avocadoes from Mexico or coffee from Ethiopia, the odds of contamination intensify.
Just take a gander what it takes to grow, ship, and sell food:
- Slaughtering or harvesting
It is remarkable that a major epidemic has not happened in the era of globalization. Fortunately, there are effective packaging integrity testing methods that reduce the probability of contamination happening in food packages.
3. Resistant to Drug Treatments
Scientists are learning that a growing number of food-borne illnesses are becoming resistant to drug treatments. In other words, they are evolving and adapting, which is bad news for the human population. All it takes is one outbreak or epidemic to kill off an astronomical number of lives.
4. Yes, Vegans Are Vulnerable Too
Vegetarians and vegans may think that they are not at risk to any of these diseases. That could not be further from the truth. Even if fruits and vegetables are the main components of your diet, they still carry foodborne illnesses, which is why it is essential to do and not do the following:
- Rinse produce under tap water.
- Never use detergent to wash fruit.
- Avoid cleaning your produce with bleach.
- Dry the fruit or vegetable with a paper towel after a thorough wash.
So, even anti-meat crusaders are vulnerable to these diseases.
5. Bacteria Can Beat Subzero Temperatures
There is a common myth that freezing food can eradicate harmful bacteria that can lead to health issues. This is incorrect because bacteria can survive freezing temperatures, so freezing is not a successful method of making your food safer to eat. Indeed, when your food is thawed, bacteria will not only be present, it could even grow and multiply!
Scientists name listeria monocytogenes and Hepatitis A has viruses that can live for a long time in freezing temperatures. In the end, the only way to kill these bacteria is by cooking the food the best internal temperature – use a food thermometer!
6. Washing Your Hands
It is posited that a lot of foodborne illnesses could be avoided if we just washed our hands on a regular basis when touching, preparing, and cooking food. Sure, we might wash our hands before we begin to cook, but what about when you touch raw chicken and then cut up vegetables and eat a bit of bread?
There are many ways to get sick by not washing your hands.
Put simply, anytime you are in contact with raw food, wash your hands!
7. 10% Foodborne Illnesses
Did you know that if we slashed foodborne illnesses by just 10 percent, then that would prevent five million people in the United States from getting sick? This interesting food safety fact is nothing to sneeze at.
8. To Wash or Not to Wash Meat
For years, conventional wisdom has been to wash your raw meat under the tap in the kitchen sink to eliminate bacteria. Many of us have always done this because we have been taught to do so. However, we are beginning to realize one thing: That was a bad idea.
Research is showing that rinsing your chicken in the kitchen sink actually spreads the raw juices around your sink, on your counterparts, and potentially into your ready-to-eat foods. The cross-contamination is real and washing your meat in the sink is on a safety measure.
9. Wait for Room Temperature? Dead Wrong
Another piece of conventional wisdom we have always used is to wait for food to cool down to room temperature before putting it in the refrigerator or freezer. Once again, this is wrong.
In fact, the length of time it takes for food to cool can be long enough for bacteria to grow. What is the best solution? Store your leftovers in an airtight and shallow container for rapid cooling and preventing the spread of bacteria. Once this is done, place it in the fridge or freezer and voila!
We all could be a little safer when dealing with food safety, whether it is washing our hands or putting that kitchen towel in the washer after three weeks! But don’t feel bad. It is quite likely that many restaurants have made plenty of mistakes when handling food. Should we accept mediocrity, though? Of course not! We need and must do better.
It begins at home:
- Wash your hands.
- Cook your food.
- Freeze your leftovers right away.
If you use these three simple rules, then you will be fine.