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Take care when preparing food

Barbadians are again being advised to exercise care when preparing and handling food in order to avoid becoming ill.

According to recent information disseminated by the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute and the Pan American Health Organisation, one key way to “eat safe and be smart” is to “keep clean”.

This involves washing hands before handling food and often during food preparation; washing hands after going to the toilet; washing and sanitising all surfaces and equipment used for food preparation; and protecting kitchen areas and food from insects, pests and other animals.

Persons are also advised to “separate raw and cooked food”. Raw meat, poultry and seafood should be separated from other foods and other equipment and utensils, such as knives and cutting boards, should be used for handling raw foods. Raw and prepared foods should also be stored in different containers.

Food should also be “cooked thoroughly”, especially meat, poultry, eggs and seafood. Soups and stews should be brought to a boiling point to ensure that they have reached 70 degrees Celsius, and juices from meat and poultry should be clear and not pink. Cold food should also be thoroughly reheated before use.

The use of water and raw materials is also crucial and it is recommended that persons use uncontaminated water or treat it to make it safe. They should also select fresh and wholesome food as well as ensure that foods chosen are processed for safety, e.g. pasteurised milk. Fruit and vegetables should be washed, especially if eaten raw, and food should not be used beyond its expiry date.

Keeping food at safe temperatures is also recommended by the ministry, which has advised that cooked food should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours; and all cooked and perishable food should be refrigerated promptly at temperatures below four degrees centigrade. The ministry has also reminded persons that cooked food should be kept “piping hot” — more than 60 degrees Celsius prior to serving; it should not be stored for too long in the refrigerator; and frozen food should not be thawed at room temperature. (BGIS)

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