3. Prepare and Store Food Carefully
A CARELESS cook in ancient Israel gathered wild gourds, although he was “not acquainted with them.” He added the unfamiliar food to a stew. The eaters, who feared that the food may have been poisoned, cried out: “There is death in the pot.”—2 Kings 4:38-41.
As the above example illustrates, food that is prepared carelessly warrants caution, as it can be harmful or even deadly. To prevent foodborne illness, therefore, learn to prepare and store food carefully. Consider the following four suggestions:
● Do not thaw meat at room temperature.
“Even though the center of the [meat] may still be frozen as it thaws on the counter,” says the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “the outer layer of the food could be in the ‘Danger Zone,’ between 40 [4°C] and 140°F [60°C]—temperatures at which bacteria multiply rapidly.” Instead, thaw food in the refrigerator, in a microwave, or under cold water in a package that will not leak.
● Cook thoroughly.
According to the World Health Organization, “proper cooking kills almost all dangerous microorganisms.” When cooking food, especially soups and stews, make sure that it reaches a temperature of at least 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70°C). * Since it can be difficult to judge the internal temperature of some dishes, many cooks use a meat thermometer.
● Serve soon.
Cooked food should not be left at room temperature for too long, so serve it soon, even immediately, to prevent spoilage. Keep cold food cold and hot food hot. You can keep hot meat in an oven set at approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93°C).
● Handle extra food wisely.
Anita, a mother in Poland, serves most meals immediately after cooking. But if there is extra food, she says, “soon after preparation I freeze it in small portions to make it easy to defrost.” If you store leftovers in the refrigerator, eat them within three to four days.
At a restaurant, you have to trust someone else to prepare your food. So how can you protect your family when eating out?
^ par. 7 Some foods, such as poultry, need to be cooked to a higher temperature.
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TRAIN YOUR CHILDREN: “When my children cook food, I remind them to read and follow the instructions on the food package.”—Yuk Ling, Hong Kong