It doesn’t hurt to be extra safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Various establishments including restaurants and groceries have implemented safety checks to help prevent it from spreading any further.
Thankfully, the risk of getting sick with the virus from eating or handling food is considered very low. However, one must still continue following the basic steps for food and meat safety for one’s peace of mind.
Safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage are essential to prevent foodborne illnesses. Keep these rules in mind to ensure food and meat safety even during the pandemic.
When shopping for dry goods and meats, make sure they come from reputable sources. Follow these specific guidelines the next time you go grocery shopping:
- When choosing canned goods, make sure they are not bulging, leaking, or denting at the seam. This can allow air or harmful bacteria to enter the can.
- Select your non-perishable items first, then go straight to the refrigerated or frozen goods section after. This decreases the time the meat is out of refrigeration.
- Never buy meat that’s past the expiration or sell-by date. Avoid it if it has a pungent smell, is dark brown or discolored, or feels tough and slimy.
When it comes to storage, practice the “First in, first out” rule. When stocking up, bring older foods to the front and newer purchases to the back. Then, follow these tips:
- Canned goods should not be exposed to extremely hot or freezing temperatures. Store them in a cool, dry place for best quality.
- Raw, uncured meat can safely last for around 3 days in the fridge, however, if you are planning to keep it for a longer period of time, the freezer is the way to go. Keep the temperature at -17.8°C (0°F) to help retain nutrients and keep the food fresh.
- Meats should be wrapped or bagged securely to prevent meat juices from getting onto other food aka cross-contamination.
Preparation and handling
The following tips should be helpful in keeping the family safe from food poisoning:
- Thoroughly wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food, whether it’s raw or cooked. Bacteria can quickly spread between your hands and meat, so it’s best to be extra careful.
- Keep meats away from other ingredients like vegetables. Use different cutting boards, utensils, and countertops during preparation and cooking to avoid cross-contamination.
- If you are planning to marinate, make sure the meat is stored in a tightly sealed dish inside the refrigerator.
Temperature affects both the taste and safety of food. Err on the side of caution with these tips:
- Color and texture are unreliable indicators of cooked food. Instead, use a food thermometer to ensure the safety of all kinds of food for various cooking methods.
- Raw meat, including beef, pork, and lamb roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 62.8ºC (145°F)
- For added safety and quality, allow the meat to rest for a minimum of 3 minutes before carving and consumption. This allows the juices to be reabsorbed into the fibers of the meat, making it more flavorful.
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