5 Tips for Proper Food Handling

The Benefits of Handling Food Safely

Though food safety is often associated with professional chefs and restaurants, proper food handling has some great benefits for the home kitchen as well. In general, handling food safely allows you to enjoy the full nutritional strengths of your food. Also, many people do not realize that good food handling is also the most efficient way to deal with food—preparation saves time, keeps surfaces clean, and saves money on the medical costs you may have spent otherwise.

Despite all these amazing benefits, the most important reason to handle food safely is to keep you alive. Bacteria that results from improper food storage or preparation are potentially life-threatening. People have died from food poisoning that could have easily been prevented. Don’t take chances—handle your food with care. Below we’ve prepared 5 tips for good food handling.

#1: Use Different Surfaces & Tools While Cooking

The principle here is that the bacteria on raw meat needs to stay away from the rest of your food. Even when you are grocery shopping, keep all meat—especially fish and poultry—away from the rest of your items.

While cooking, always use separate cutting boards for meat and produce. Raw meat is far more likely to carry harmful bacteria than your salad makings. This applies to plates as well—any plates that carried raw meat should go to the dishwasher, not carry more food.

#2: Set Fridge Temperature to 40 Degrees Fahrenheit

This is the FDA-approved temperature for storing non-frozen food. All modern refrigerators have thermostats that allow you to set the internal temperature of your fridge. 40 degrees is ideal because any higher temperature allows bacteria to grow and thrive. Any lower, and your food will begin to freeze and lose its taste. Make sure you check the temperature of your fridge periodically!

#3: Pack Leftovers So They Cool Quickly

The key to keeping food fresh is cooling it down as quickly as possible. One easy way to do this is to buy lots of shallow, wide leftover containers. By spreading food thin and broad, it cools down quickly, allowing it to stay fresh for longer. Food cannot safely remain warm for longer than two hours—on hot days, even one hour may be too much. The secret is to work smart—use wide containers!

#4: Put Space Between Leftovers

Part of what helps preserve food is airflow. Cooler air traveling in and around your food keeps it fresh and prevents bacterial growth. Do not over pack your fridge. Leave space between items so that air can travel between them. In addition, pack your food properly—put meats underneath vegetables and fruits to avoid contamination.

#5: Don’t Store Perishables on the Door

This is a simple tip: only store condiments or less-perishable food on the door. Because of the opening and closing of the fridge, the door is routinely warmer than the rest of the fridge. The door is not the best place to store your eggs! If you’re okay with food being a little warmer (like pickles, condiments, dressings, or butter), store these on the door.

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician.

If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.