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Top 10 Home Food Safety Tips

Home cooks are gatekeepers of the family's health, preparing favorite dishes and trying new recipes. They sure are responsible for the condition of the food that the family eats. Oftentimes, people get sick due to improper handling of food at home.

Food safety at home poses special challenges. It takes skill and organization to provide healthy meals on a daily basis. Ensuring bacteria does not find its way into the food is a full-time job.

You need to learn to protect your family from food-borne illnesses, especially if you have elderly, children or pregnant women around. Make sure that food is not only delicious but safe as well. Here are the top 10 suggestions for home food safety:

1 Organize and manage your refrigerator and oven space in a way to keep hot foods at 140 degrees or more and cold foods at 40 degrees or below.

2 Cook food to its proper temperature to ensure that any bacteria is killed off. Leftovers should be cooked to 165 degrees and kept above 140 degrees during serving.

3 Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of preparation. Leaving food out too long is a safety hazard. Ensure the fridge is not too packed but has plenty of air circulating around the food.

4 Defrost food stuffs properly, especially poultry and meats. Allow five hours per five pounds to defrost in the refrigerator after removing from a deep freeze. Never defrost on the kitchen counter.

5 Wash your hands thoroughly and often. It's a good habit to clean hands before, during and after food preparation. It's the easiest way to minimize bacterial contamination.

6 Wash all fresh produce, even prepackaged greens to minimize potential bacterial contamination. Make sure kitchen counters, sponges, cutting boards and knives are all well scrubbed.

7 Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees. Popping cold food into the microwave may seem safe enough. But you really need to use a thermometer to make sure all the food is reheated enough to kill bacteria.

8 Do not allow guests with inquisitive fingers in your kitchen, especially if they happen to visit you in the cold and flu season.

9 Always check the use-by or expiration dates of food products. Make it a habit to look for the fine print on ready-made food items for the recommended consumption period.

10 Do not eat food containing uncooked eggs, or you risk contract salmonella. Eggs should always be stored in a fridge and cooked well.

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