Make sure you eat safe. Here are 8 unexpected, but common food safety mistakes many people make

According to the World Health Organization, 1 in every 10 people fall ill every year from eating contaminated food, with 420,000 deaths occurring as a result.

Food safety is extremely important towards preventing good foodborne illnesses, however, there are a few dangerous mistakes that many of us are still making. Here are a few to avoid:

Not washing your hands (or washing them incorrectly)

While this should be common sense, many people do not wash their hands enough— or correctly— while preparing their food. Remember, you need 20 seconds of scrubbing with soap and water to truly have ‘clean’ hands.

Not replacing sponges and dishrags (or not replacing them enough)

According to EatRight, sponges and dishrags are some of the dirtiest items in household kitchens. They are a breeding ground for bacteria, which can ultimately pose a serious health risk. Sanitize your sponge and dishrags at least every other day, replacing completely after a week or two.

Tasting food to see if it’s still good

When you taste food to see if it’s still good, what happens if it’s not? You’ve already ingested it, and it only takes a small amount of contaminated food to make somebody sick. Additionally, the bacteria that causes food poisoning cannot be tasted, seen, or smelled, so when it comes to a taste-test, don’t even bother.

Washing meat and poultry

It is totally unnecessary to wash meat and poultry. In fact, the splashing water can spread dangerous bacteria to sinks, countertops, and other surfaces, ultimately doing more harm than good. Wash the veggies, skip the meat.

Not being aware of the food danger zone

The food ‘danger zone’ is described by the United States Department of Agriculture, as a temperature range between 40°F and 140°F. In these conditions, bacteria can double in less than 20 minutes. To keep food out of the food danger zone, you should avoid thawing food on the counter, using the fridge, microwave, or cold water instead. You should also avoid letting food cool on the counter for more than 2 hours— and no more than one hour if the temperature is above 90°F.

Reusing shopping bags that have held raw meat

According to Consumer Reports, reusable material shopping bags can be “a breeding ground for bacteria” as a result of being splashed by raw meat juices. To avoid this potential food hazard, they suggest washing your bags regularly using hot water. If you can, stick to having one bag for meats or, at the very least, wrapping the raw meat packages in a plastic produce bag before putting them in your tote.

Putting raw meat on the fridge’s top shelf

Just like material bags, bacteria caused by raw meat juice can quickly spread to other food items and surfaces. Professor Tom Humphrey of the Insitute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool tells the Daily Mail, “The golden rules of fridge hygiene are that raw meat must be stored at the bottom of the fridge. You must also keep food that is to be eaten raw separate from processed, home-cooked or raw meat. Fish is generally clean from bacteria, but it does spoil quickly.”

Not checking your fridge’s temperature

This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s another thing that often goes forgotten during day-to-day life. If your fridge isn’t cold enough, it can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria. Use a refrigerator thermometer to quickly check the temperature. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, your fridge should never go above 40°F, while your freezer should always be at 0°F or lower.

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featured image credit: chicken.org h/t: eatright

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