Avoiding common kitchen mistakes can keep you from getting sick

It's not just for restaurants, but your home, too

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Some of the same mistakes that lead to restaurant health code violations can lead to illness in kitchens at home.

Jessica Tyree of Restaurant Compliance Solutions shared some easy tips to reduce the chance of your family getting sick from improperly prepared food, and one of the most common pitfalls has to do with the temperature at which food is stored and to which it is cooked.

"Every different kind of food has its own temperature it has to reach," Tyree said. "There are different types of bacteria associated with different types of food, so temperatures have to be reached to kill those bacteria."

A simple kitchen thermometer is a valuable tool to test food temperatures. Tyree suggests calibrating the calculator in a glass of ice water to ensure that the device is working properly. It should show 32-degrees while in the ice water.

How food is stored can often lead to unexpected problems. 

"Chicken has to be cooked to 165-degrees to kill the bacteria, pork only has to be cooked to 145-degrees, so if any bacteria that's on the chicken drips down to the pork, the pork isn't cooked enough to kill the bacteria from the chicken," Tyree said. "Chicken goes on the bottom."

Something as simple as hand washing can also make a substantial difference in food safety in the home.

"The number one way that cross contamination happens and the number one way that people get sick is people not washing their hands when they are supposed to," Tyree said. "Just like everything else, there is a procedure for washing your hands."

The Florida Department of Health recommends an eight-step process for hand washing:

  • Wet hands
  • Apply soap
  • Rub soapy hands for 20 seconds
  • Scrub fingertips & between fingers
  • Scrub forearm to just below elbow
  • Rinse forearms & hands
  • Use towel to dry hands & forearms
  • Turn off water with towel & throw towel away

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