Your food, when not prepared properly, can be a host to hundreds of parasites that can spread illnesses. No matter how sumptuous your dish appears to be, you couldn’t always be sure if its ingredients have disease-causing bacteria like E.coli and Salmonella that can lead you to suffering symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Thankfully, food poisoning and other food-borne illnesses can easily be prevented as long as you’re careful in handling your food. Make sure your home-cooked meals are safe and delicious by following these five food safety tips.

Shop wisely

That’s right — your road to food safety starts way before you even begin preparing your meals. As you tick off your shopping list when you get your groceries, remember to segregate the items on your cart. Separate soaps and other cleaning agents from edible items, while also keeping away dry goods from frozen ones. In line with that, always get your perishables last. Items that will last long in your pantry like coffee, biscuits, rice, and so on should be picked up first before you head over to the fresh produce section. Get the goods to be stored in your refrigerator like eggs, milk, and meat last — right before you head over to the checkout counter. Most importantly, keep your eyes open. Check the expiry dates, especially on products for sale, and keep away from food with strange colors and scent.

A supermarket aisle with dry ingredients.
Place dry ingredients to your cart first when doing your groceries. Photo by Mehrad Vosoughi / Unsplash

Clean as you go

When you begin preparing your meal, make sure your kitchen is neat and tidy for the safety of your food. Sanitize your counter and utensils before and after each use with a safe anti-bacterial dishwashing solution. Wash your hands before you begin and in between handling meat and vegetables — don’t simply wipe your hands with a towel to avoid contaminating it and further spreading bacteria. Thoroughly rinse your greens to remove any dirt, pesticides, or bacteria on their surfaces.

Separate your ingredients

Aside from maintaining a hygienic kitchen, when cooking, it’s also important to be mindful of handling your ingredients. When chopping up and laying down the raw meat and vegetables you’ll be using, use different cutting boards and plates — or at least wash them before reusing them — to avoid cross-contamination. Otherwise, you might unknowingly transfer the salmonella that might be in your uncooked pork to your garlic and onions. Likewise, after you’re done cooking, don’t place your steaming hot meal on a plate where you previously placed a raw ingredient. Clean it first with soap and water before using it again.

Food safety tip: chop vegetables like cilantro and meat using different utensils and boards
Don't use the same cutting board and knife if you need to mince both meat and vegetables. Photo by Alyson McPhee / Unsplash

Cook thoroughly

Heat kills germs, so cooking your food with the right heat will give you not only a delectable meal, but an equally safe one. If you’re following a recipe, stick to them to a tee. Having cooking thermometers will help you attain the absolute best temperature needed to thoroughly and perfectly cook tricky ingredients like meat. Getting them isn’t always feasible, however, so at the very least, double-check your food. Pork, poultry, beef, and seafood should be perfectly-done, without blood or frozen areas right in the middle. The juices that come out of the meat should also be clear. Finally, keep cooked foods hot and covered until they’re ready to be served and eaten.

Store food properly

You’ve rustled up a satisfying dish and your dinner was a success. Now what to do with the leftovers? Enjoy them again later by chilling them in the fridge to retain its freshness. Refrigerate them as soon as possible, preferably within two hours. Cover them with tight lids or with plastic wraps and aluminum foil so that they don’t dry out and lose their flavor inside the refrigerator.  If you leave food at room temperature, it can invite more bacteria to breed in it.

Spaghetti with red sauce
Store your leftovers properly after eating to preserve food safety. Photo by Nerfee Mirandilla / Unsplash

Following these five food safety tips will minimize chances of food contamination at home. Still, in the unfortunate case that you still come across food that doesn’t smell or taste right, don’t take any chances. Stop eating immediately and toss it to the trash. If it’s already too late and you’re already experiencing symptoms of food poisoning, consult a doctor to know the proper steps to recover from the illness. To find help for your health concerns, you can always turn to SeeYouDoc to find a health professional . Book a virtual consultation with us to get the medical care you need as soon as possible.


Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Philippine Information Agency (PIA)