Food Safety Basics

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 34,797
    Christine Bruhn, Center for Consumer Research at UC Davis, provides tips for keeping your food free of contamination.

    Christine Bruhn: I am Christine Bruhn, University of California, Davis, Department of Food Science and Technology. We have been talking about how you can tell if your food has gone bad and today I am going to share some of the basics of food safety. You do want to tell if your food has gone bad, both for the enjoyment of food, the pleasure of the eating experience and also because it can effect your life and the life of the people that you love. Food safety is not really easy. It requires some attention, using your eyes, using your nose, using your senses and knowing what you need to know and how to handle the different foods. You can't always tell by looking at a product. It can look great and may harbor some harmful bacteria, but if you think about and control the different factors, you can enhance safety. The first and most important is washing your hands frequently, especially after touching a raw product and especially before and after touching anything that's ready to eat. Use soap, wash for 20 seconds under running water and dry with a paper towel, a clean, single use paper towel so you don't have any cross-contamination and then you make sure you don't cross-contaminate from one food to another. Your raw and your cooked products need to be kept separate. Your raw meat, fish and poultry need to be kept separate from produce or anything that's going to be eaten without further cooking so that you are not sharing germs from one to another. Next, you need to control the temperature and that means keeping cold foods cold enough and hot foods hot enough and you keep your cold foods cold enough by not letting them be in what's called the Danger Zone. That's the range of temperatures from 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. So how do you know how warm things are?

    You use thermometers. We have got a refrigerator thermometer and your refrigerator should be 40 degrees or colder, your freezer should be zero degrees or colder. Well, that's really a quality rather than a safety issue. The most important thing is 40 degrees or colder for your refrigerator and you know it is that cold because you have got a thermometer in there. Then when you cook foods, you cook them warm enough so that 160 is a common number that you need to remember. 160 for leftovers, 160 for ground beef, 165 for chicken and poultry and you can cook steaks or rolls for a lower temperature if you like a rare product like 145. The Danger Zone where bacteria can grow is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. But it is not a guess and it is not appearance. It is based upon the temperature because appearance can fool you. For example, one out of four of the ground beef hamburgers that we cook can turn brown before they reach 160 degrees. You can't rely on color, you have got to rely on temperature. We want to keep people safe. The statistics right now are one in four of us get food-borne illness every year. Let's stop that and let's make not even one in ten. You can do it. I will help show you how. Next, we are going to talk about how you can tell if your bread has gone bad.