I started on this journey of food safety many years ago when I found out I had an allergy to formaldehyde. Great! Where the heck am I getting that from. As I have mentioned before I got it from the preservative in sodas. But, I started researching more about how I could come into contact with this poison. I also found that it is in building materials and clothing and food, toothpaste, and hair products to name a few. This lead me to start researching more about the food I was eating. The more research I was doing the more I wanted to eat only organic foods. That of course lead to more research. In this constant research I was doing I wanted to know how to keep from spreading germs and bacteria. I saw a video many years ago that showed a black light on the sink and counter after you rinsed a piece of meat and I was so disgusted I almost became a vegetarian. Gross!! Kitchens are one of the dirtiest rooms in the whole house.
I wanted to know how to keep food safe and ourselves from illnesses from food. This is a topic of discussion since the beginning of time I am sure. Well, at least when we started to figure out that some foods make us sick and we needed to learn why. It took us a lot longer to discover that much of what made us sick is something we can’t necessarily see, like bacteria. I believe the proper term is food born illnesses and the cause of approximately 20% of illnesses. That is a large number of people getting sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness each year, with approximately 128,000 people being hospitalized and 3,000 deaths. We can lower that number by educating ourselves to the cause.
There are surprisingly some simple things you can do in your kitchen to lower those odds. Back when I was in high school we still had a home economics class. But we never covered this information about food safety. I am very much in favor of preventative measures when it comes to my health and of my family, and now my friends, which you all are. This can also save you tons of money in doctor bills. I love saving money.
Don’t rinse your meat before cooking. I was raised being taught to rinse my meats before cooking. I thought it was just to get rid of the blood or slimy feel on some of the meats. Well apparently you should not do that because you are essentially getting bacterial contamination all over the sink and the towels and anything else you touch or the meat touches. Just because I could not see it does not mean that it isn’t there. You will also cross contaminate your other foods while cooking meals.Studies are finding an increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria in raw meats. Not to mention how the animals are raised. The bacteria is killed once you cook your meat, the heat is what does it. Once your meat is cooking I would immediately wash with soap and water, the counters, sink and anything else that touched the meat including your hands. I suggest you wash your hands often while cooking.
Wash your avocado before slicing it. In samples taken by the FDA from 2014 to 2016, almost 18% of avocado skins tested positive for listeria. Many years ago I started washing all my fruits and vegetable. (Strange side story, when I was young I live in Eritrea. We had to wash our fruits and vegetables in Clorox. That was gross as well. Everything smelled like cleaning chemicals.) In the process I started researching my food sources and started buying organic everywhere I could. I even started researching how and where all my food was grown to see what, if any chemicals were used. I found that there is a problem with finding organic farms. All it takes is for a chemical farmer next to an organic farmer to cross contaminate fields. GMO (A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques (i.e. genetically engineered organism). Then there is the seeds that are genetically modified. (Genetically modified seeds, or GM seeds, are a type of genetically modified organism, or GMO. GMO’s are created by modifying the DNA in a plant’s genome. GM seeds are also known as transgenic seeds. As of 2010, you can purchase GM seeds for corn, soybeans, rapeseed/canola, cotton, potatoes, papayas and sugar beets.) Personally I am trying to stay away from all of this. But that is just me. This may not be a route that everyone else chooses.
I use a vegetable brush and wash the fruits and vegetables when I bring them home from the store. I dry them with a clean towel and then put the towel in the wash. I also try not to use paper products where I can.
Wash reusable bags. Initially it never occurred to me to wash the inside of plastic bags, which I now do. But, as with everything else I am trying to not use plastic everywhere I can. It is convenient for us but it is so harmful to us, animals and the planet. I recently had started buying the reusable bags that stores offer. But I felt they were to thin, I also forgot to take them in with me every time I went shopping. After so many trips back to the car while at the register, I now remember to bring them in. Currently, I am making my own bags to carry my groceries. I am making them out of old jeans and I will be embroidering on them. Just because I can hehe. My suggestion is a different bag for meats, one for vegetables, one for fruit etc. This will also help cut down on cross contamination. One thing to consider it how much you can carry in one bag. You don’t want to make or buy a bag, once filled you cannot lift it. I will have patterns available soon on my website.
To cut down on cross contamination I would suggest that you wash your bags at least weekly. Make sure they are completely dry before you put them back in your car. If you follow my lead, I am putting plastic coating on the inside of the bags to make it easier for clean up also. You can wipe them down with antibacterial soap after each shopping trip. I would also make sure you bag all your meats in disposable bags or 1. beeswax wrap reusable food wraps. You can get these on Amazon.
Now more and more stores are not offering plastic bags or paper bags (I discovered that with paper bags, you can bring home bugs that are hiding in the folds of the paper bags. (Not crazy about cutting down more trees either) You will want to wash down the kitchen counters and your hands when you are done putting away all your groceries.
A different colored cutting board for foods. Meat, fruit and vegetables would be a good idea to have a different color for each type of food. Again less cross contamination.
The refrigerator should never be stuffed so full you cannot find anything. The reason for this is that you need to keep the air flow open so that ALL your food is being kept cool. When storing your food in the refrigerator there is a system of what to put on what shelves because of how the air flow goes through your refrigerator here is an example.
I assume that most of us have freezers. As you may be aware of, or maybe not they vary in size from a tiny above the refrigerator to an upright full size freezer. The point is, proper packaging, and storing in the freezer for proper air flow you will be able to better preserve your food safely.
I hope that you find this information helpful, and ultimately in the long run that it saves you money and less waste on food. I look forward to seeing you here again soon.
Til neste gang (till next time)