GOOD HABITS: Expert tips for improving kitchen and fridge food handling habits.
GOOD HABITS: Expert tips for improving kitchen and fridge food handling habits.

Fresh and healthy: Tips for handling and storing fridge food

WHILE you are devising your new year resolutions, why not add to the list changing your habits in the kitchen to help avoid getting ill from cross contamination between fresh and raw foods.

CSIRO senior food microbiologist Cathy Moir points out that her advice for changing kitchen habits applies to every senior including men over 70 who are known to have a slightly higher incidence of foodborne disease.

"We can hypothesise that perhaps the food handling and hygiene habits of men living alone might not be up to the standards of the general population," Cathy said.

Cathy has some great tips for improving food handling habits and for what foods to be wary of as we get older.

Clean

  • Clean the area before preparing food.
  • Wash your hands before starting. Try washing your hands with soapy water for 20 seconds and then dry them for another 20.

Chill

  • Make sure any food that should be chilled, is chilled.
  • Don't leave the milk and cheese out on the bench.
  • Only have food out of the fridge for as long as you need to.
  • If you have prepared a ham and cheese sandwich, put the leftovers back in the fridge before you sit down and eat your sandwich.
  • Any perishable food that has been out of the fridge for two hours, generally you can put it back in the fridge.
  • After two hours, you can probably still eat it.
  • If it's been left out for more than four, throw it out.
COOKED TO PERFECTION: Aim for 75 degrees for cooked and for reheated leftovers.
COOKED TO PERFECTION: Aim for 75 degrees for cooked and for reheated leftovers.

Cook

  • Mince, hamburger meat, sausages and similar, need to be cooked right through.
  • Steak can be cooked and eaten rare.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of your cooked meat.
  • Aim for 75 degrees for cooked and for reheated leftovers, which is equivalent to steaming hot.
  • To test chicken, put the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat, not next to the bone.

Separate

  • Keep your raw meats separate from ready-to-eat foods like fruit and salad vegetables.
  • Defrost frozen meat in the fridge, and in a container or on a plate so the meat juices can be captured.
  • When preparing meals, keep read-to-eat food away from raw meats.
  • Consider using different coloured cutting boards for different kinds of food.

More great food tips

"As we get older our immune systems weaken even if we stay active and fit," Cathy said. "That makes older people more vulnerable to foodborne disease."

  • Avoid raw eggs and products containing raw eggs, which are associated with salmonellosis.
  • Avoid delicatessen meats that have been left in the fridge for a long time.
  • With fresh-cut meats from the delicatessen, as there are no dates on them, eat them within a few days of purchase.
  • Smoked salmon - ensure you note the use by date.
  • Once a perishable packaged product is opened - consume it within three days and keep it stored within the fridge.
  • When buying a pre-prepared salad, make sure it's kept cold and eat it within a day or two of purchase.
  • Observe Use By dates - foods should be used by that date.
  • Best Before - these foods can often be eaten beyond the Best Before date. However, the quality may have deteriorated.

For more great food hygiene information, go to www.foodsafety.asn.au.


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