Raw meat, poultry, or fish can be the source of various food borne illnesses. Food borne illnesses are usually infectious or toxic and caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances entering the body through contaminated food.Practising safe-handling methods is essential to reduce the risk of these diseases, and benefit from the nutrients present in them.
Food borne pathogens or contaminants in the food can cause severe diarrhoea or infections including meningitis. Chemical contamination can also lead to cancer.1
Following safe selection, storage and handling of food, especially meat, poultry, and fish can promote good health.
Proper selection of meat is the first and the most important step to towards meat safety. There are certain things you need to keep in mind and not compromise on before buying meat, poultry or fish.
- Always buy meat or frozen items after you have
- Examine the packaging of the meat. If it is torn, damaged, or leaking, don’t buy it.
- Ensure that the meat you are buying has not past its expiration date.
- If the products, whether meat or fish feels warm, don’t buy it. Buy the ones that are cold, indicating that it was stored at the right temperature.
- When you’re buying fish, check its eyes. If they are clear, wet, shiny, and plump, the fish is fresh and healthy. On the other hand, if the eyes are dry, sunken or cloudy, the fish is unhealthy.2
- Touch the fish to check its firmness. Touch it and if it feels sticky and soft, the fish is not fresh.
- Fish shouldn’t smell sour or like ammonia. Ensure that the fish you buy smells fresh.
- If the poultry looks slimy or doesn’t smell good, avoid buying it.
Freeze raw meat, poultry, and fish as soon as you bring it back home. Don’t let it thaw unless you are using it immediately.
Storing meat at the right temperature is important to prevent bacterial growth. Either store it cold or heat it to a temperature that kills the bacteria. Set your refrigerator’s temperature between 34° and 40°F to avoid the growth of bacteria.3
Unless you are going to use the raw meat in 3 days, it is advisable to store it in the freezer. Always store the uncooked meat away from the cooked one to prevent contamination. Also, when storing meat in the refrigerator, ensure that it is stored in a leak proof bag to prevent the juices from it to mix with other foods and contaminate them.4 Follow these guidelines for meat, poultry, and fish for a safe and healthy meal.
3. Handling And Cooking
Cooking meat the right way is important, even if it was bought and stored carefully.
Meat, fish and, poultry can be thawed either in cold water or in the microwave. You can also place it in the refrigerator to maintain the cold conditions while allowing slow ans safe thawing. However, ensure that the meat is placed in a plastic bag during this. Defrosted meat or poultry should be cooked before refreezing. After defrosting the meat in a microwave, always cook it immediately as some areas of the meat can begin to cook.
Always remember to clean the utensils and cutting board thoroughly before and after handling the uncooked meat. While cooking, keep the meat away from the other ingredients to prevent the bacteria from spreading. Cook all the meat and fish to a minimum temperature of 145 °F. Poultry should be cooked at an internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a thermometer.5 6 Measure the internal temperature before removing it from the heat source.
Furthermore, meat and poultry can be directed cooked in the oven or grill, but avoid cooking it directly in a slow cooker. On the other hand, using a slow cooker for defrosted meat is the safest way to cook as it helps to destroy all the bacteria due to the steam and lengthy cooking.7
|↑1||Food safety. World Health Organization.|
|↑2||Fresh and Frozen Seafood: Selecting and Serving It Safely. U.S Food & Drug Administration.|
|↑3||Lamb from Farm to Table. United States Department of Agriculture|
|↑4||Chicken from Farm to Table. United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.|
|↑6||Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart. United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service.|
|↑7||Chicken from Farm to Table. United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.|