Food poisoning is becoming more and more prevalent and this article will give you some simple suggestions on what you can do to keep your food bacteria free.
We all love barbecues; the grilled food, friendly conversation, and enjoying the outdoors. What should be a fun event can go bad very quickly if proper handling of food is not followed.
Food poisoning is no laughing matter and will probably affect every individual at some point in their life. Food poisoning from salmonella, E. coli, and staphylococcus are the most common bacterias and with food recalls happening more frequently, we're all subject to food-borne illnesses which can range from a mild case to death. Having a serious illness from food poisoning is no laughing matter and there are several things that you can do to help eliminate bacteria from making your barbecue a nightmare.
Wash Your Hands
We hear this many times during flu season, however, it should be practiced every day, all year round and especially in the kitchen. Keeping your hands clean as you handle food, especially raw meat is advice that should not be taken lightly. You should never handle raw meat or fish and then touch fruit or vegetables without washing your hands. Always wash your hands after handling any type of raw meat, fish, or poultry.
Wash Your Food
Likewise, before preparing any type of food, wash each food as they may contain different bacterias. It's best to wash your food in groups; all the veggies, then all the fruit, then all the meat. Wash your hands in-between each food group except the raw meats. In other words, wash all the veggies first then wash your hands before handling raw meat. When you wash the raw meat, however, wash in-between each different type of meat; for instance, wash all the hot dogs first, wash your hands, then wash the chicken pieces. It's important to not contaminate each piece of meat with bacteria from another piece of meat, so wash the meat and then wash your hands.
Wash the Cutting Board(s)
A big mistake that many cooks make is to prepare and trim meats on a cutting board, rinse the cutting board with water, and then chop up the veggies on the same board. According to the FDA, 21% of cooks do not wash their cutting boards after cutting raw meat on them. This easily transfers any bacteria onto the veggies and increases the risk of food poisoning. A good rule of thumb is to use two cutting boards; one for the meats and one for veggies. After you're done using them, put them in the dishwasher for a good sterile cleaning. Some agencies suggest using chlorine bleach on your cutting boards, however, the dishwasher is the easiest and one of the safest ways to clean your cutting boards.
Where'd That Plate Go?
You know the plate that had the uncooked meat on it before you put the meat on the grill? Where'd it go? Don't use it to put the cooked meats back on the same plate. A big no-no as that plate probably has bacteria on it from the uncooked meats. After you place the meat on the grill, put that plate immediately in the dishwasher or at least in the sink. Don't put anything else on it that you plan on eating or handling.
Use Different Cooking Utensils
Another common mistake happens while grilling food. Many cooks use the same utensil to flip uncooked meats over and then do the same to corn on the cob or other veggies. You should never do this as it can transfer bacteria from the uncooked meat onto the utensil and then onto the veggies. By using two utensils, one for meat and one for veggies, you'll decrease the risk of food poisoning.
As we encounter more and more food recalls due to bacteria, it's wise for us to take action and decrease the risk of food poisoning. These suggestions are all simple to do and will make your next barbecue a safer one.
Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art