Food Handling Basics – Part 1

Florida food handler certification

Preventing foodborne illnesses is essential to preserve the health of your family, friends and customers. In order to do that, it’s necessary to take some safety measures when handling cooking and storing foods. (Related Topics: Florida Food Handlers CertificatesFlorida Food Handlers CardFlorida Food Handler Certification)

The harmful bacteria responsible for many illnesses it’s not necessarily easy to smell, see or taste, which is why it is so important to follow the right guidelines in every step of the food preparation process.

Safe food handling starts at shopping, and if you want to ensure you’re doing things correctly, there are a few steps you must follow.

  • Only pick the refrigerated and frozen foods after you’re done selecting nonperishables.
  • Never pick meat or poultry in a package or container that’s torn or leaking.
  • Don’t purchase any food items with an expired “Sell-By”, “Use-By” or “Consume-By” date.

When it comes to storage, food safety protocols are key to maintain food in top notch condition and safe for consumption.

  • Make sure to always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours of buying it. Push for 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 °F.
  • Do regular temperature check-ups of your refrigerator and freezer with an appliance thermometer.
  • Keep your refrigerator at 40 °F or below and your freezer at 0 °F or below.
  • Cook or freeze fresh poultry, fish, ground meats, and variety meats within 2 days; do the same with beef, veal, lamb, or pork, within 3 to 5 days.
  • Wrap meat and poultry tight and secure to maintain quality and prevent meat juices from leaking or getting onto other food.
  • Freeze meat and poultry in its original package. Once open, wrap the package again with foil or plastic film that is recommended for the freezer.
  • High-acid canned food such as tomatoes, grapefruit, and pineapple can be stored unopened on the shelf for 12 to 18 months. Low-acid canned food such as meat, poultry, fish, and most vegetables will keep 2 to 5 years – if the unopened can remains in good condition and has been stored in a cool, clean, and dry place.
  • Make sure to discard any cans that are dented, leaking, bulging, or rusted.

Thawing food can lead to contamination if it’s not done properly. If you’re thawing food in the refrigerator –which is the safest way to do so–, make sure meat and poultry juices do not drip onto other food. For a faster approach, try placing food in a leak-proof plastic bag and submerge it in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes and making sure to cook everything immediately after thawing. If you’re in a hurry, you can use the microwave to thaw food, just make sure to clean the microwave and cook the food right after thawing.

For more food safety basics, look forward to the second part of this article next month.

At Brunswick Food Service Educators, we have over 35 years of experience as a Certified ServSafe Instructor and registered Proctor. Florida Food Handler Certification is required by Florida law for all employees. We understand that people are busy and the culinary industry can be very demanding and time-consuming; that’s why at Brunswick Food Service Educators, we offer same-day completion of classes and exams so you can get on with your busy schedule. For a more detailed look at what we offer or for class schedules, contact us at 561-703-7196 or 561-369-2622.