In the run-up to stocking home shelves as people prepare to stay home for an extended period of time, people sometimes dismiss food safety rules as they pack their refrigerators, creating issues that can cause potential foodborne illness. Judging by the empty shelves of sanitizers and cleaning chemicals in grocery stores, it is hopeful people are actually using such supplies, to include in their kitchen and food preparation areas. The following four websites give great information to the consumer on safely handling, cooking and storing food.
- FDA, Shopping for Food During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- FoodSafety.gov: 4 Steps to Food Safety
- Fight BAC! Partnership for Food Safety Education: The Core Four Practices
- The FoodKeeper contains food safety and storage advice to help consumers maintain freshness and quality of foods.
Some Added DOs
- DO store like items together in the refrigerator.
- DO clean surfaces first and then sanitize surfaces with a sanitizer cloth or spray.
- DO give sanitizers time to work. Follow the preparation and use instructions, and allow the recommend contact time to air dry.
- DO remember there are potential hazards associated with your food, protect ready-to-eat foods from contamination and cook foods designed to be cooked properly to the specified time/temperature.
- DO wash your hands often, especially after coming into your home, before preparing or serving foods, while handling foods designed to be cooked and before eating any foods. A good rule of thumb is to wash your hands when you are going from one type of food to another in terms of hand handling.
Some Added DON'Ts
- DO NOT store items designed to be cooked (fresh chicken, ground beef, eggs, etc) with RTE items (leafy greens, fresh vegetables, etc).
- DO NOT use the same utensils/surfaces to prepare foods designed to be cooked and then RTE foods without cleaning & sanitizing them in between. This is to prevent cross-contamination, as bacteria that can make people sick could be on these utensils/surfaces and if used uncleaned can transfer the bacteria to the RTE foods that has no kill step to destroy the pathogenic bacteria prior to consumption.
- DO NOT mix cleaners, sanitizers, disinfectants, acids or any other chemicals. Use cleaners and other chemicals according to the label directions, wear protective gear, and keep chemicals out of reach of kids. Calls to US Poison Centers about cleaner and disinfectant exposures has increased by 20%.