Kitchen Safety 101

Kitchen safety should non-negotiable. Whether you are a couple or you have kids, and yes, even if you are single and living alone, health and safety food should be your number one priority. There are practices that you should follow to the dot and failing to do so will severely compromise your health.

The following are general guidelines about food:

1.      Use your senses when buying food. Choose only those that look and smell fresh. If in doubt, err on the side of caution.

2.      Keep fruits and vegetables separate from the meat. The juices from raw meat can contaminate fresh produce. This is doubly dangerous for fruits that you consume whole – skins and all.

3.      Get home quickly. If you are going grocery shopping, buy the perishables last and hurry home after you are done shopping. This is to keep frozen foods cold and not let microorganisms grow.

Now that you have a foundation to go with, here are the specifics:

Safe Meat Handling

Salmonella and E. Coli are the most common harmful microorganisms that cause disease. They are found in raw meats including pork, beef, chicken, and lamb. They like warmer temperatures and grow rampantly in anything between 40°F and 140°F. You can slow this down by refrigeration. As the temperature gets lower, growth also slows down, so it’s best to freeze all meats. These harmful bacteria are only found in the surfaces of meat and are absent in the inside. So as long as you thoroughly cook the meat , you will be fine.

You must avoid undercooking meat as the slower a dish cookers, the longer the temperature stay in the zone conducive for bacteria growth.

Vegetable Guidelines

Fruits and vegetables to get contaminated with bacteria as animal wastes sometimes gets to them through direct contact with the animals or through indirect means. Cooking is still the best way to kill all microorganisms, but for fruits and vegetables meant to be eaten raw, thorough washing is imperative. Hard-skinned fruit can be scrubbed to get them really clean. Leafy vegetables like lettuce can be hard to wash. It is best to sacrifice and throw away the first layer just to be safe. It is best to wash fruits and veggies just before you eat them to prevent recontamination. Throw away any produce that stays out for longer than two hours.


Pasteurized milk in sealed containers are safe to store at room temperature. Once opened, refrigerate to be safe. Hard cheeses like Swiss Cheese, Cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Parmesan can be left out and any mold growth is easily remedied by just cutting away the affected portion. To be on the safe side, refrigerate all soft cheeses.


Salmonella can find its way into eggs and the only way to be really sure is to cook them until firm. There are a lot of yummy dishes that call for half-cooked eggs, and the instance of Salmonella is rare – with just 1 in 20,000 eggs affected, but still the risk is there. Don’t compromise for those with weakened immune systems like old folks and little children.

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