Four Basic Food Safety Procedures Which Consumers Should Observe
The HACCP system embodies and defines the policies and procedures observed for food safety in the US, as monitored by the Department of Agriculture in regulating the meat and poultry products, as they are transferred from farm to market.
In line with this, the said federal agency advocates four basic steps, which consumers should observe as precautionary measures when buying, handling, preparing and storing food:
Clean – Always keep your cooking implements, kitchen surfaces, storage freezers and hands, clean. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly and peeled properly before they are eaten.
Separate – Wrap, secure and store food separately, in order to prevent cross-contamination, particularly among those food that leach or drip with their natural juices or liquid content.
Cook – Never eat raw meat or eggs; cooking them at a certain temperature will destroy the harmful pathogens that thrive on raw foods. Do not judge the food as cooked based on its color. Research studies have shown that some food may turn brown or change its color, yet, some of the harmful bacteria may still subsist.
The USDA recommends the use of large-dial oven-safe or oven-probe food thermometer, to determine if the food has been cooked at the right temperature. Observe the following temperature guidelines:
- 145 °F = Fish, beef, lamb, veal steaks & roasts
- 160 °F = Ground beef, pork, veal & lamb; pork chops, ribs & roasts; egg dishes
- 165 °F = Ground turkey & chicken stuffing, casseroles & leftovers; chicken & turkey breasts; poultry legs, thighs & wings; chicken whole; & turkey, whole
Chill – Chill leftovers and do not allow them to remain at unsafe temperatures beyond 40 °F for more than 2 hours. If the temperature is above 90 °F, discard perishable foods left unrefrigerated for more than an hour. Store frozen foods brought home from the grocery store immediately, or within two hours. Observe the frozen food safety storage recommendations based on the FSIS Freezer Storage Chart.
The FDA, on the other hand, oversees and defines the product safety issues that producers and manufacturers should observe for fresh produce, canned and imported goods, processed foods, milk, shell eggs and all other foods that do not contain meat and poultry.