Preparing food involves being hands-on with your ingredients and can lead to unhealthy meals if prepared incorrectly. The bacteria from your hands, countertops, utensils, and cross-contamination all run the risk of infecting your food and spreading to those consuming what you create. For this reason, there are some basics to food prep sanitation you need to know to avoid situations where you may be putting the health of others at risk due to your cooking.
From the food you’re handling to the tools you’re using, make sure that everything is washed, cleaned, and ready to handle. Start with cleaning your hands under warm water with soap for at least 20 seconds. After your hands are clean, wash off any knives, cutting boards, dishes, and countertops as you go; once you finish up with a particular food, clean up everything before you move on to the next.
This typically applies to only fruits and vegetables, but you need to know the best methods to clean foods properly before adding them in as ingredients. Fruits and vegetables can carry germs and bacteria that you can easily wash before they reach anyone’s plate.
One of the most vital pieces of knowledge you can have while prepping food is to keep raw meat separate from everything else. Whether it’s beef, pork, poultry, or seafood, raw meat contains harmful bacteria that can easily soak into nearby food, infecting them and causing them to carry and spread illness.
You may feel inclined to reuse utensils and cutting boards between food groups to reduce the clean-up afterward, but you must use separate tools. Utilize different equipment when working with raw meats; the danger of cross-contamination is a serious concern in food preparation.
Meat poses a significant problem until you cook it fully, but you must ensure that the meat is, in fact, cooked thoroughly. Meat cooks from the outside, slowly cooking through to the center, and it can be easy to serve undercooked meat. Whether you have a meat thermometer or decide to cut the meat into smaller pieces, ensure that there is no raw meat left when you take it out of the pan.
Each type of meat has a specific temperature that it needs to reach before it is considered cooked; those temperatures include:
Dealing with food is a delicate business and knowing the basics of food prep sanitation will allow you to avoid any dangerous circumstances. Keep yourself and those consuming your food safe by giving them the healthiest meals possible.