90 percent of home chefs drop the ball on food safety

Published: Feb. 16, 2017 at 5:20 PM EST
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Not following simple food-handling practices at home can be a recipe for disaster.

A study from Kansas State University found that 90 percent of home chefs drop the ball when it comes to food safety.

Do you have a food thermometer at home? Better question: do you actually use it? A recent study found that less than 10 percent of people who own a food thermometer use it.

The USDA recommends consumers use a thermometer to limit the risk of salmonella and other pathogens from being in their meats and poultry if they are not properly cooked.

Another thing people should do is separate the food and be careful of cross contamination. Use separate cutting boards for meats and produce to ensure that germs from raw meat are not getting into your salad.

And what about storing your food? The Kansas State study found that only 18 percent of people correctly stored raw poultry in the refrigerator. Keep your refrigerator below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and refrigerate foods promptly.

“The key thing to remember is make sure food is not in the danger zone for more than two hours. The danger zone is temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees,” explains Joe Kivett, food safety expert and author of The Food Safety Book.

Those are temperatures that can allow bacteria to grow on your food and cause food borne illness. And lastly, washing your hands seems like the simplest of all tasks, but the Kansas State researchers found that people tracked contaminations all over the kitchen and the house when cooking.

“People think 'I’m at home, it’s my house, I don’t need to wash my hands all the time.' But there are so many things, you go to change a baby’s diaper and you came back to the kitchen or you go to the bathroom and you came back," Kivett explains.

Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, and that can save you from being sick hours later

Kivett also says that if you get food delivered from the now-popular meals kit services, like Blue Apron or Plated, make sure the package is not damaged and the meals are not in the danger zone for more than two hours.


REPORT #2394

BACKGROUND: Food poisoning, also known as foodborne illness, is an illness that starts by consuming infected food. The intake of bacteria, viruses and parasites like salmonella, E. coli, and staph through food contamination are the most common causes. Contamination of food can occur in the production process, or even at home by not handling or cooking correctly. The symptoms include:

* Nausea

* Vomiting

* Diarrhea

* Fever

These symptoms are very similar to those of stomach flu, but, if several family members are experiencing the same symptoms hours after eating the same food, food poisoning is likely the one to blame.

(Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/food-poisoning/basics/definition/con-20031705 & https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/abdominal/Pages/Food-Poisoning-and-Food-Contamination.aspx)

PREVENT FOOD POISONING: When it comes to cooking, a great number of people tend to believe that because they are at their home they shouldn’t be as strict in cleanliness as chefs are in their restaurants; but this is incorrect. Contamination can happen anywhere. Most of the food contamination mistakes that occur at home are preventable, so keep these food safety tips in mind next time you’re cooking a meal for you or your family.

* Always wash your hands; before and after cooking, after going to the bathroom or especially after changing a diaper.

* Wear gloves if you have open cuts or sores.

* Do not prepare food if you’re sick, especially if other people are going to eat this food.

* Do not leave prepared foods at room temperature over two hours. And, if you have any food that needs to be frozen, make sure your refrigerator is set to a temperature under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

* Use separate cutting boards and knifes for vegetables and meats. Make sure you don’t share because cross-contamination can occur.

* Use a thermometer to check on meats that can’t be eaten raw, like turkey and chicken.

(Source: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/abdominal/Pages/Food-Poisoning-and-Food-Contamination.aspx)

NEW REGULATIONS: One in six Americans will be affected by food poisoning this year. Although the illness can be treated at home, and most of the time a visit to a hospital isn’t necessary, food contamination can have life-threatening effects. Kidney failure, chronic arthritis, brain and nerve damage, and even death can be the results of food poisoning.

(Source: https://www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/)