World Food Safety Day 2023: 7 essential practices for healthy and safe meals

By, New Delhi
Jun 05, 2023 07:25 PM IST

On World Food Safety Day (June 7), here's how to store, cook, and consume food safely with these easy-to-follow practices.

Food is one of our basic necessities. It is the fuel that nourishes our bodies, provides the energy and nutrients necessary for growth, vitality, and overall well-being. While good food can help us stay healthy, food that is contaminated, expired or not stored properly can lead to various health hazards. One in 10 people worldwide are affected by food-borne diseases every year. World Food Safety Day is celebrated every year on June 7 to draw attention to food standards so that what we eat is safe and doesn't make us ill. (Also read: It's World Food Safety Day today: 5 things to know)

World Food Safety Day is celebrated every year on June 7 to draw attention to food standards so that what we eat is safe and doesn't make us ill(Freepik)
World Food Safety Day is celebrated every year on June 7 to draw attention to food standards so that what we eat is safe and doesn't make us ill(Freepik)

"In a world where unhygienic and unsafe foods wreak havoc on countless lives daily, it's high time we prioritize good hygienic practices. Food-borne diseases, caused by consuming contaminated meals, plague our health and well-being. To counter this threat, we must ensure that the food we eat is free from harmful microorganisms and chemicals," says Dt. Ashish Rani, Assistant Manager - Dietetics, Aakash Healthcare, New Delhi.

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Here are 7 essential practices one should follow for safe meals.

1. Clean hands, safe food

First things first. Begin with washing your hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling any food. Eliminate harmful bacteria and prevent contamination by maintaining proper hand hygiene.

2. Spotless surfaces

Keep your kitchen surfaces clean and sanitized. Regularly disinfect countertops, cutting boards, and utensils to prevent the spread of harmful pathogens.

3. Check for spoilage or damage

Ensure the freshness and cleanliness of ingredients. Check for any signs of spoilage or damage before cooking or consuming. Say no to questionable food items.

4. Separate with care

Separate raw and cooked in the fridge, right from the start. Use different utensils, chopping boards, and storage containers to avoid the transfer of harmful bacteria. Seal raw food, let it rest down below, while cooked food can be placed on higher shelves. Prevent cross-contamination, keep your health intact, with this simple rule, fridge safety is a fact.

5. Cook it right

Safety of cooked food is ensured when the internal temperature gets high enough to kill germs that have the ability to make you sick. Properly cook your food to kill bacteria and other pathogens. Use a food thermometer to ensure that internal temperatures reach safe levels, eliminating any risks. Frozen food can be placed safely in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave for thawing. Thawing frozen food on the counter will result in spoilage as bacteria can multiply quickly in the parts of the food that reach room temperature.

6. Keep it chilled

Maintain your refrigerator temperature at 5°C or below and freezer temperature below -15 °C. Remember to keep perishable food (meat, seafood, dairy, cut fruit, some vegetables, and cooked leftovers) refrigerated at or below 40°F (4°C) within 2 hours and within one hour if exposed to high temperature like hot car. Promptly store leftovers after meals to prevent bacterial growth and maintain food safety.

7. Mindful storage

Store food in appropriate containers, minimizing exposure to air and contaminants. Make sure your containers are clean and in adequate conditions and use them only for storing food. Seal tightly with proper-fitting lids or plastic film to minimise contamination. Label items with dates to track freshness and avoid consuming expired food. Use several clean, shallow containers to package warm or hot food and then refrigerate. It is okay to refrigerate small portions of hot food since they will chill faster.

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