You may be aware of basic kitchen rules such as “don’t run around with a sharp knife in the kitchen”, but did you know you could still be doing plenty of seemingly harmless food habits that are potentially dangerous?
Before you continue putting yourself in danger, read up on these 10 food mistakes you have to stop doing immediately.
#1. Putting cooked meat on a plate that held raw meat
After grilling slices of beef and other meat, do you absentmindedly place the now-cooked meat back on the plate it was on when it wasn’t cooked yet?
While it may be convenient, never let cooked meat or any ready-to-eat foods touch raw meat as this can cause cross-contamination. This contact can be the gateway for foodborne pathogens from raw meat to spread to the cooked food, causing food poisoning.
#2. Eating cookie dough
There’s just something sinfully delicious about taking a bite of strangely yummy raw cookie dough before you place them in the oven to bake. And since you’ve never fallen sick after consuming your fair share of cookie dough, you continue doing so.
Newsflash: Eating this mix of raw eggs and flour can trigger symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhoea or a fever. So resist the temptation and wait till your cookies are baked to eat them — it’ll taste so much better too!
#3. Not washing your hands properly
Similar to how you automatically wash your hands thoroughly after visiting the loo, it’s just as important to do the same after handling food and kitchen utensils.
Simply running your hands under water doesn’t count, especially when handling certain foods. After working with raw meat, poultry, fish, eggs and more, you need to scrub your hands clean with soap and warm water for a minute before picking up a knife or tongs. Why? If not washed away, pathogens and bacteria will spread to everything you touch and you’ll be more likely to get sick.
#4. Not replacing or cleaning sponges and rags
It’s easy to overlook the sponge you use to clean your dishes and utensils. Pay more attention to it though, since food particles get trapped in the material, causing nasty bacteria to grow, which immediately goes all over your dishes and sink.
Increase the lifespan of your sponge by washing it daily and replace it with a new one when you get a whiff of any mustiness.
#5. Microwaving food in plastic containers
When it comes to handling and preparing food, convenience shouldn’t trump hygiene and safety. So, the next time you think of microwaving your food that’s inside a plastic container, think instead of the danger you’re putting yourself in.
Bisphenol A (BPA) can make its way into foods that are placed in BPA-made containers. Exposure to BPA is bad for brain health, can increase blood pressure and more, so always scoop your food onto a microwave-safe plate before heating it up.
#6. Leaving food out for too long
You’ve probably been told to let your food cool first before stashing it away in the fridge. It sort of makes sense, right? Boiling hot soup shouldn’t be placed in the fridge immediately after it’s been bubbling away on the stove because it makes your fridge work extra hard to cool your food.
While that’s certainly correct, remember to follow the 2-2-4 rule: Foods should be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking it, stored in containers that are not more than 2 inches deep (to speed the chilling process) and then eaten within 4 days. Anything that you’re planning to eat after 4 days should be kept in the freezer.
#7. Picking up seafood products first while grocery shopping
There’s a reason why the seafood section in supermarkets is located at the end of the premises. Picking up fish and other kinds of seafood early on in your shopping session is bad, as fresh seafood needs to be refrigerated immediately thanks to its sensitivity to temperature. The key is to make seafood the last item you buy so it will remain cold.
#8. Doing other errands after getting the groceries
Although they may not be as sensitive to as seafood, there are many other foods (the ones you got from the “cold” section of the supermarket) that need to be refrigerated immediately or else they’ll start to decay. As bacteria and toxins form when foods begin to decay, it’s best to get home immediately (or within an hour) to properly store your food in the fridge.
#9. Reusing cooking oil
You know that unpleasant taste lingering in your deep-fried food? That rank flavour could be the result of reusing cooking oil. So, it’s always best to use fresh oil whenever you’re frying, as the heating of cooking oils to boiling point can promote molecular damage.
You should not consume reheated oil more than 3 times — any amount beyond that is dangerous. Anyway, think of the yummier fried chicken you’ll have when you do without reused cooking oil!
#10. Tasting food to see if it has gone bad
If you thought a quick taste is the solution to figuring out if your food is safe to eat, you’re sadly wrong. Tasting just a little bit of spoiled food is enough to catapult you into illness. Also, you can’t really taste or see the bacteria that may be festering on the surface of spoiled food. The easiest thing to do is to throw away food which you suspect may be past its expiration date.
Now that you know how the smallest things matter when it comes to food hygiene, we’re sure you’ll take care of yourself and your food now. As long as cleanliness and safety are prioritised, you’ll be safe from any possible danger.