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Food has the wonderful power of being transformed with intuitive thinking. Even the blandest food and the most basic combinations can turn fruit, vegetables and other delights into a delicious masterpiece. Each meticulous food masterpiece is not without its risks. Aspiring chefs can use their kitchen to prepare, cook and eat whatever their imagination can conjure. Fight Bac! is a non-profit that is working to ensure that correct food safety knowledge is accessible, easy to understand and is utilized regularly. Correct food safety is a real health challenge that must be taken seriously and Fight Bac! is working tirelessly to bring science-based food safety messages to homes, restaurants, and schools up and down the country. The urgency of the situation is without question as America is undoubtedly facing a food safety crisis. One in six people become sick from a foodborne illness each year, with young children and the elderly often facing the harshest symptoms. Innocent concoctions can manifest into a food safety nightmare. Luckily, the “story of your dinner” campaign has stepped up to the challenge of educating consumers about home chef food safety.
As eating together is one of life’s greatest pleasures, it is vitally important to ensure that meals are safe and healthy for all. Fundamentally, cooking and eating must uphold the highest standards of food safety. The entire chain of prevention must be rigorously followed for homes to be safe for food consumption. Unfortunately, the U.S. is currently fighting an unprecedented level of food-borne illnesses. Every year, food-borne illnesses cause an average of 3,000 deaths per year and amount to an estimated $37 billion annually in healthcare. To try to combat this epidemic, Fight Bac! has prepared innovative resources to educate the masses about the importance of food safety. The four key practices of food safety being taught include cleaning, separating, cooking and chilling correctly.
Clean: Washing hands and surfaces often. Bacteria can easily be spread therefore thorough cleaning is necessary to win the battle. Washing hands in warm water for over 20 seconds and applying soap is paramount. Further, cooking utensils deserve the same attention after use as bacteria can be transferred easily. Lastly, fresh fruit and vegetables must be washed before use to kill off any unwanted bacteria.
Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate. The correct handling of food avoids the potential for cross contamination. Raw meat, poultry and eggs should be kept separate and away from other food. This also applies for plates that have previously held harmful bacteria. One must be very precautious with preparation!
Cook: Cook to the safe internal temperature. Food is safe to eat when it is cooked to the right temperature, sufficient enough to kill off harmful bacteria. Utilizing a thermostat is the best precaution that can be exercised in this case. It is simply a must have item for any chef! Cooking meat is the main cause of concern in the kitchen and the thermostat is the best appliance to verify safety. Understanding the right temperature is key and food can’t be eaten unless your thermostat indicates so. Relying solely on color is not enough.
Chill: Refrigerate or freeze food. Humans and bacteria are very similar in their hatred of cold temperatures. Cold air must circulate in an unstuffed refrigerator of below 40°F for the killing of bacteria to be effective. Additionally, food should never be defrosted at room temperature and marinating should be at the fridge. Correctly storing meat, poultry and eggs in the refrigerator straight from the store and never leaving them out for longer than an hour is another necessary precaution that must be undertaken.
“You cannot see, smell, or taste the bacteria that cause foodborne illness,” says Shelley Feist, executive director of the Partnership for Food Safety Education. “Food that is left too long at unsafe temperatures could smell and look just fine but be dangerous to eat.” Let’s take America’s favorite dinner, the thanksgiving feast. The hallowed turkey is undoubtedly the highlight of this festivity. However, without following the correct chain of prevention, the taste can be soured by a foodborne illness. Incorrect preparation can lead to raw poultry being contaminated. This year, foodborne illnesses will cause 128,000 hospitalizations — half of those will be children. Adults have a duty to protect their children from a painful hospitalization with home safe handling needed to keep children healthy. Taking the necessary responsibility to uphold a safe kitchen will keep bacteria away long into the future. Taking the advice of the multidisciplinary bacteria fighters is crucial!
As home chefs now have an unrivaled access to the internet, engaging cooking videos can inspire people to innovate with their meals. Developing food safety habits is becoming even more important to keep kitchens and families safe for the future. Food should be enjoyed with the correct preparation to eat safe in the knowledge that all preventative steps have been taken. Consequently, the story of your dinner campaign is an exciting development that is transforming food from retailer to the table. The commitment from businesses has been outstanding, leading to investment in recipes, videos, kids activities and food preparation tips to engage with home chefs. Research shows that many adolescents prepare snacks and meals in the home and will soon be prime candidates for employment in the food service industry. Changing food habits from a young age from one of danger to safety is an arduous but necessary process to ensure that knowledge and behaviors are conducive to an efficient chain of prevention.
In conclusion, the story of your dinner campaign is a much-needed, innovative campaign that can drastically improve the food safety outcomes of homes in America. Food safety is overlooked with habits forming over time and often without the correct education. Fight Bac! is filling this void and providing the necessary tools for safe and healthy meals to become the norm. The four core practices are easy to follow and is an important message to drill food safety habits. Keeping kitchens and families safe from foodborne illnesses is a positive health outcome that we can all strive towards.
By: Billy Rayfield, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)