Handling food safely is about more than making sure the milk hasn’t expired or the chicken is cooked all the way through.
Not to say these things aren’t important.
However, as someone in charge of handling food that others are going to eat, it is your responsibility to know and understand all food handling rules and regulations.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest food handling mistakes people make and how getting your food handlers license can help prevent serious illness.
1. Thawing Food on the Countertop
Unfortunately, many people growing up have seen their parents leave frozen food on the countertop during the day to make sure it is ready for later that night. So, it makes sense that many people believe this is the proper way to thaw food.
The problem is, leaving frozen food to thaw at room temperature exposes it to countless germs that can make it vulnerable to anyone that later consumes it.
Placing ready-to-eat foods on a plate that previously held raw meat is a definite mistake when it comes to food handling.
This is because raw food tends to have naturally occurring food-borne pathogens (that are eliminated during the cooking process) on them that easily pass to cooked foods.
From there, anyone eating foods that have been cross-contaminated are at risk for a food-borne illness.
3. Over-Cooling Food Before Refrigeration
If you have prepared hot food that later needs refrigeration, take care not to let it cool for too long on the counter. This is because perishable items can grow illness-causing bacteria in a short amount of time when left in what is aptly labeled the “danger zone.”
Make sure to promptly refrigerate perishable foods to avoid inducing a serious food-borne sickness on your customers.
4. Washing Meat or Poultry
It may seem counter-intuitive to tell you not to wash meat or poultry before preparing and cooking it. After all, rinsing foods off would seemingly wash away all germs and make the food safer for consumption.
However, when you wash raw meat or poultry in the sink, all you do is transfer the germs from the food to nearby areas such as your sink and counter-tops.
The right thing to do is simply cook any meats you are preparing. The cooking process will kill any existing germs.
5. Poor Hygiene
This should be an obvious mistake to avoid when it comes to food preparation. However, you might be surprised at the lack of handwashing that happens in many food establishments.
Failing to wash your hands using the right handwashing technique can result in contamination of any foods you handle. This is especially true if you are handling meat. Even if the meat is safe, your dirty hands may not be.
Though the cooking process may eliminate any bacteria you contaminated the food with, the real problem comes when food that is ready-to-eat that is handled with your bacteria riddled hands.
In the end, there is a reason why those in the food industry are required to get a food handlers license. After all, avoiding common food handling mistakes, and having a thorough understanding of food safety, is critical to maintaining the health of anyone eating the foods you prepare.