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Keeping food safe to consume

To help avoid food poisoning it's important to make sure the food you make for yourself and for other people is safe to eat.

Keeping food safe to consume
Image Credit: Gulf News Archive
A clean environment at home, especially the kitchen, can help eliminate most of the microbes that can cause contamination of food.

Abu Dhabi: The death of a schoolgirl in Abu Dhabi recently due to food contamination has made it necessary for us to take a good look at the way we handle food.

The 10-year-old girl who had home-made food died of food poisoning. To prevent such disasters from homes it is important that people know how to handle their food carefully.

Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) has issued a booklet that will help avoid such disaster.

Do you read the food labelling tag carefully before buying packaged food? Most of the educated people to whom Gulf News talked said they never did so but believed the advertisement or suggestion from friends to purchase new food products.

Apart from expiry date (on which most of us are aware of) a food labelling tag gives valuable information such as instructions for storage and use and a note for allergy.

Such instructions have to be strictly followed to avoid contamination. When you buy food stuff at a supermarket buy frozen food last, and then go home immediately. While transporting foodstuff care should be taken not to leave them in the car's boot where no air conditioning is available for long.

Avoid buying potatoes that are green in colour or that have fresh sprouts. Onion must be free of black-coloured fungi.

When buying cans make sure the cans are free from any swelling and rust.

While handling dairy products if you find bright pink pigments them dispose them of. These indicate presence of certain ferments which secrete bright pink pigments.

A clean environment will help eliminate most of the microbes that can cause contamination. Also try to take care of your utensils and kitchen towels. Change the kitchen towels and the washing sponge regularly.

When you cook the food cook it well to make sure that bacteria have been killed. Cook meat until 70C. You can make sure that meat has been well cooked if its colour turns brown or grey.

Refrain from reheating the food not more than once.

Tips: Do not reheat your food more than once

- Buy frozen food last, and then go home immediately.

- Make sure that the refrigerator temperature is 4C and the freezer temperature is -18C.

- Put meat, fish and poultry immediately in the freezer if you do not want to use them at once, or within a maximum of two days.

- When you store raw meat, fish or poultry in the refrigerator, put them in a deep container to avoid any leakage of dripping liquid to other foodstuffs, and keep them away from food which may be eaten without cooking.

- Do not keep open canned food in refrigerator. The remains of canned food shall be kept in tightly closed containers.

- Refrain from reheating your food more than once.

- Do not keep food for a long period in the refrigerators or freezers. If you cannot remember the date of storage of certain food stuffs, just dispose them of. Do not use or even taste them.

- Remember that cooling and freezing do not kill microbes, they only slow or stop their growth.If the refrigerator is off power

- If you avoid opening the refrigerator, you can keep the food cold. The refrigerator can keep food cold for 4-7 hours, depending on the kitchen temperature.

Thawing frozen food

- If you have to thaw them with water, then the water must be changed at least once every half an hour. Make sure that thawed food is not left on the kitchen table at room temperature.

- Cook thawed food immediately; do not leave them for extended periods. If you have to, between thawing and cooking you can put the food in the refrigerator after disposing of liquid excreted from it. In all cases you must not freeze thawed food again.