How To Prevent Food Contamination

Proper Food Preparation Prevents Contamination

Cooking egg on the pan

What are the Potentially Hazardous Foods? They are cooking ingredients that have the highest possibility for contamination due to methods used to produce and process them, and have characteristics that usually allow microorganisms to increase. They are often moist, high in protein, and chemically neutral or slightly acidic.

These are the TOP 13 potentially hazardous foods:

  • Tofu
  • Meat: beef, pork, lamb
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Shellfish, crustacean
  • Sprouts, raw seeds
  • Shell eggs
  • Sliced melons
  • Baked or boiled potatoes
  • Garlic-and-oil mixtures
  • Soy-protein foods
  • Cooked rice, beans, or other heat-treated plant foods
  • Milk and milk products

Most of us know how to cook and even experiment on dishes to serve our love ones, but not enough of us have sufficient knowledge on how to protect our family from getting sick because of food contamination.

How we can avoid contamination? By knowing how to prepare and store the ingredients that we put in the dishes we cook.

Prevention Tips:

Do you know that improper food storage and handling can cause food contamination? Kill microorganisms the right way by controlling time and temperature throughout your everyday food preparation to minimize microbial growth.

  1. Proper personal hygiene: Clean and wash you hands to avoid possible sources of contamination.
  2. Food storing: Store foods at their suggested temperature. If it is fresh meat or fish, store it in the freezer.
  3. Proper cooking temperature: Cook food to its minimum safe internal temperature for the right amount of time. Please purchase a good food thermometer. The most important concept to learn is that fresh foods can only be in the Temperature Danger Zone for less than 4 hours. Consider the fresh meat in the car coming from market -- if it rises above 41°F, it's spending time in the danger zone. After you cook it, the time it takes for you to cool the leftovers to below 41°F degrees is time in the zone. The time it takes you to reheat and the time it sits later on the table cooling down are counted as well. Do your best to keep track, and try not to approach 4 hours too often.
  4. Proper holding temperature: It’s important to keep potentially hazardous foods at the proper temperature and out of the Temperature Danger Zone when serving them over long periods of time (even a few hours). So, hot foods must be kept above 140°F and cold foods below 41°F or lower.
  5. Proper cooling of cooked foods: Cool cooked food to 70°F within two hours, and to 41°F within four (4) hours. Don’t put the food into the refrigerator until you’ve reached 70°F, as they could warm up other nearby items in the fridge.
  6. Proper reheating: Reheat foods to an internal temperature of 165°F for fifteen (15) seconds to kill the microorganisms that might build after storing the cooked food in the refrigerator.

Correct Cooking Temperature:

For the safest results, cook fresh meats until the internal temperature at the thickest point reaches the recommended temperatures below:

  • Egg casseroles, sauces and custards: 160°F.
  • Fresh beef, veal or lamb: medium rare-145, medium-160, well done-170°F.
  • Ground fresh beef, veal or lamb: 160°F.
  • Fresh pork or ham: medium is 160°F, well done is 170°F. These numbers are pretty conservative. Trichinella parasites die at almost 140°, so you can safely cook to 150°F for medium rare and enjoy moister pork.
  • Whole chicken, turkey, duck and goose: 180°F, measured in thigh down near the bone.
  • Poultry thighs, wings and legs: 180°F.
  • Poultry breasts, roast: 170°F.
  • Stuffing: in or out of bird, 165°F.
  • All leftovers and casseroles: 165°F.

You can now start cooking with no worry!


Share this article!

Follow us!

Find more helpful articles: