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World Food Safety Day 2020: Best ways to store and wash your foods

Do not leave your food outside the fridge longer than two hours if the temperature is over 32.22°C outside. © Shutterstock

On the World Food Safety Day 2020, we give you some tips on how to preserve your food and wash it to retain its nutritional value.

Written by Sanyukta Baijal |Updated : June 7, 2020 4:28 PM IST

Food contamination is a serious health issue. Food-borne illnesses kill thousands of people and lead to hospitalization of millions every year. In order to decrease the burden of foodborne diseases and promote better health, we need to ensure that everyone has access to safe and nutritious food.

Today, the WHO is celebrating the second World Food Safety Day (WFSD) to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks. The theme for the World Food Safety Day 2020is "Food safety, everyone's business." The WHO describes it as an action-oriented campaign to promote global food safety awareness. It calls upon countries and decision makers to take action to reduce the burden of foodborne diseases.

COVID-19 and food safety

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there is currently no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food or food packaging. But as the virus spreads through close contact or respiratory droplets and can survive on surfaces and objects for days, there's a need to observe proper hygiene and food safety practices.

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Food safety practices should always be ensured while preparing foods which include frequently washing your hands, surfaces and utensils before and after using. This will help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

How to store and wash your foods for clean eating

According to the estimates of the World Health Organization, every year 600 million people fall prey to foodborne diseases worldwide. Therefore, this WFSD take a look at how to store and wash your food safely.

Always use separate utensils for raw and cooked foods

Cross-contamination in foods is more likely to happen when raw meat, poultry or seafood comes in contact with cooked meat or any ready-to-eat foods. This sort of food placement can make it easier for foodborne pathogens from raw meat to sneak into already prepared foods. This can lead to food poisoning. Therefore, it is recommended to always use separate utensils for raw and cooked foods.

You should avoid defrosting food by leaving it out on your kitchen counter.

Harmful foodborne pathogens multiply when foods are kept in the temperature range of 4.44 C and 60 C. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), bacteria levels can double in just 20 minutes in this temperature range. Therefore, you should avoid defrosting food by leaving it out on your kitchen counter and do not re-freeze your food after defrosting it.

Refrigerate your foods in a timely manner

Do not leave your food outside the fridge longer than two hours if the temperature is over 32.22 C outside. This is because the bacteria associated with foodborne diseases can multiply quickly when perishable foods are left in the temperature range of 4.44 C and 60 C. Refrigerating foods in a timely manner is significant for preventing the onset of any foodborne disease. In case you are carrying these foods outside, keep them in a well-insulated cooler with ice or cold packs.

Wash your hands properly

The bacteria which cause foodborne illnesses not only exist on your plates and bowls, but they may infect your hands too. Therefore, it is extremely important to wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before handling food. Not washing your hands can cause cross-contamination of foods.

Keep replacing sponges and dish rags regularly

Several studies have revealed that sponges or dish rags are two of the most dangerous places as they are hotspots for germs. They may easily contaminate your utensils and food as well. Therefore, make sure to sanitize your sponges regularly by microwaving them for at least two minutes. You should also replace them after every two weeks. Also, it is very necessary to rinse and squeeze out the sponge before storing it and let it dry before reusing it.

Do not use soap or any detergent on foods

It is a complete myth that soap, detergent or any special liquid is required to clean fresh fruits or vegetables. Just wash them under running water by gently rubbing them. There's no need to use soap or a produce wash.

Use a brush or sponge if necessary

While cleaning root vegetables like potatoes or carrots, a vegetable brush or sponge should be used to ensure that all dirt is removed. If needed try and use a clean brush to scrub off the firm fruits and vegetables like melons and cucumbers.

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