How to Handle Meat
Meat is a part of many individual meals and diet. There is a proper way to handle it in order to prevent food-borne illness. Here are some rules to follow when you are cooking with meat.
Wash Your Hands Thoroughly before Handling
Before handling the meat, or any food, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap. Even if you do not feel that you have been exposed to many germs since your last hand washing. Wash them directly before preparing the food anyway. Anything on your hands can make it into your food, and because germs and bacteria are too small to be seen, there is always a risk when your hands go unwashed.
Wash Your Hands Thoroughly after Handling Raw Meat
Raw meat contains harmful bacteria that is only made safe by cooking it to the proper temperature. Every time you touch raw meat, your hands become a vehicle by which this bacteria can spread. Wash them a few times with warm water and soap, and be sure to clean under your fingernails or anywhere else the bacteria may be hiding.
Be Careful When Pets Are Around
Think your pet is too well-mannered to get into the food when you are not around? Think again. Animals are tempted by food, and leaving meat unattended in the kitchen is just asking for trouble. Cats have been known to walk across the counter when their owner has slipped out for even a few minutes, and dogs that are high enough to reach the counter can make contact with the food as well.
Do not Allow Cross-Contamination
Always be vigilant not to allow cross-contamination in your kitchen. When handling meat, and especially raw meat, keep it separate from safer foods. Try to prepare fruits, raw vegetables and other ready-to-serve items before handling the raw meat, in order to cut down the risk of this type of cross-contamination.
Use completely separate parts of the kitchen to prepare meat, since the raw juices of meat can easily splash other food items that are nearby.
Wash Everything Thoroughly That the Raw Meat Touches
When you cut or otherwise prepare raw meat, be sure to clean any utensils and surfaces that come in contact with it. It is not enough to wipe it down, even when used along with soap. Cutting boards and plates should go into the dishwasher so as to be heated and washed intensely. You can also spritz them with vinegar, then 3% hydrogen peroxide and then rinse them well.
Utensils and other items should be stashed in the dishwasher immediately so they are not accidentally used for any other food preparation. Wash the sink thoroughly as well with soap and hot water, and then either the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide mix or a bit of bleach.
Cooking meat requires knowledge of basic food safety. It is important not to experiment when it comes to the safe handling of these particular foods. Follow these guidelines and you will be able to enjoy a great meal and keep everyone healthy at the same time.