Madison Koenig, White River Valley senior, has taken FACS courses every year of high school. She is in two career pathways: Early Childhood Education and Culinary & Hospitality. This article highlights research that she compiled while completing her food safety project.
To remain healthy and wholesome, it is important to consume only foods that have been properly stored and prepared. Foodborne illnesses, diseases and even poisoning can occur from poor food storage and preparation methods.
One of the most common errors that home cooks or even professional chefs make is using the incorrect temperatures for certain foods, whether it is chilling, freezing or cooking. Bacteria can form in food that is not at the correct temperature, which can then cause food poisoning.
Perishable foods that are refrigerator-necessary, such as fruits, vegetables, cooked foods, dairy products, eggs, and meats must be checked regularly to prevent spoilage or molding. To avoid foodborne illnesses, your refrigerator should be set at or below 40 degrees. Certain bacteria can form when the temperature is set too high. Keeping raw foods chilled can slow the growth of bacteria, which is extremely important for the safety of refrigerator foods.
Freezing food is a helpful method to preserve already cooked foods, fruits, vegetables, meats and other raw foods. Freezers should stay around 0 degrees to protect the food from bacteria growth, which also keeps it flavorful even after it has been thawed. However, it is common for food to get freezer burnt, so you must try to use and cook the food just a few months after freezing it.
Cooking temperatures vary on the item being cooked. It is crucial to properly cook food thoroughly to avoid any risks of illnesses or diseases that could potentially form. Meats are especially significant to be precisely cooked to the correct temperature until it is safe to eat. Check cooked meats with a meat thermometer. Most meats should cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
One of the most challenging tasks is being able to keep up with the freshness and expiration dates of food in your kitchen. The temperature that food is being kept at is vital to the safety of it. If you let food spoil, burn in the freezer or cook to the wrong temperature, you or loved ones might be taking a trip to the ER. Make sure to follow the directions on packages, and try not to be afraid of the results! Bon appetit!
Betsy Misner has been the Family and Consumer Science, formerly Home Economics, teacher at White River Valley for over a decade. Her motivation is helping students to strive for strong, happy, healthy families and providing career pathways. Check out more of what is happening in the classroom by following her on Twitter: WRVFACS@BetsyMisner