High Risk Foods
Avoiding food poisoning can be hard, especially when you are not aware of which foods bacteria can grow more rapidly than in others. If you can not identify these high risk foods, you will also not be able to reduce the risk of food poisoning by handling these foods safely.
The first step is to educate yourself on which foods are at high risk. The Ontario Ministry of Health declares that dairy products (such as milk, cheese, yogurt etc), eggs, meat, poultry and seafood are high risk foods. These foods need to be cooked at high temperatures to kill any potential bacteria because they support growth otherwise. This is in contrast to the low risk foods that do not support bacteria growth, which they confirm are: fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, most baked goods, candy, pickles, honey, jam and preserves, syrups and vinegars.
In order to reduce the risk of food poisoning, there are steps you need to follow. It is important to clean and sanitize your hands, the utensils and the equipment before and after handling high risk foods. Also, it is important to clean the produce before consumption. The reason why you are cleaning everything is to keep any bacteria on the high risk foods separate from other foods. This also applies when you are storing the food; it should all be kept separate.
How to handle high-risk foods safely:
Now that we know that there are various types of high-risk food items that can get contaminated easily with bacteria, here are a few ways one can easily handle bacteria spread from high-risk food items.
- Avoid touching – One of the best ways to avoid bacteria spread is to prevent touching them. So you must use clean and disinfected utensils to prevent cross-contamination.
- Keep food in the refrigerator – It is important to keep food inside a refrigerator until it is required for preparation or service. This helps prevents the spread of harmful bacteria.
- Cover the food – When not cooking, make sure that the food is covered to prevent contamination. Any uncooked meat or poultry products must be kept covered.
- Keep high-risk foods separate – It is important to separate high-risk foods in the refrigerator to avoid cross-contamination.
- Limit preparation time – Make sure that you take extra care to avoid the spread of bacteria from high-risk food items, which can be done by limiting the time taken to prepare high-risk foods as much as possible.
High risk foods are meant to be cooked at high temperatures. These temperatures vary depending on the specific type of food. You must keep the food out of the danger zone to ensure it is safe to eat. This also applies when refrigerating the foods: make sure it is not in the danger zone, but 4 degrees or colder.
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