From shopping to preparing meals, discover the right actions to keep pathogenic bacteria at bay.
Steak tartare on your menu? Be careful not to season it with salmonella! Every year in France, some 270,000 people suffer from food poisoning caused by bacteria that proliferate on food. Canteens, retirement homes and restaurants are concerned, but more than a third of contaminations take place at home. These infections, potentially serious, even fatal in rare cases, can be avoided. By respecting simple rules for preserving and preparing food, it is quite possible to limit the spread of responsible germs. Here’s how:
● Cold thawing
The first essential gesture is, of course, hand washing, at least twenty seconds, with hot water and soap, not forgetting the nails. It helps prevent food contamination if you wash before and after handling raw products (vegetables, meat, fish). But also after each potentially problematic action (going to the toilet, stroking an animal, blowing your nose, etc.).
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Likewise, kitchen utensils and cutting boards should be cleaned thoroughly after each use. Do not cut carrots on the board used to slice the butcher’s piece of beef, if it has not been polished beforehand. This systematic cleaning, which can be tedious, makes it possible to avoid cross-contamination. Vegetables and fruit must also be rinsed with water, or even brushed with a vegetable brush, before being cut. And that in any case, organic, wrapped in plastic film… etc.
On the stove side, the National Food Safety Agency (ANSES) recommends that minced meat for young children, pregnant women and people with fragile immune systems be well cooked. In addition, these vulnerable populations should avoid the consumption of raw meat or fish and dairy products made from raw milk (with the exception of pressed cheeses such as Gruyère or Comté).
● Fridge below 4°C
The fight against the micro-organisms responsible for food poisoning also involves better preservation of food in a clean fridge set at a temperature between 0 and 4°C. This is important because beyond that the bacteria grow rapidly.
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Therefore, ANSES recommends not leaving a dish or food for more than two hours at room temperature before refrigerating. And once stored in the fridge, some dishes must be eaten quickly. “Catering products, cream-based pastries, “highly perishable” foods sold by the cut not prepackaged or sold at retail without mention of a use-by date should not be kept for too long. A duration of less than three days is recommended”, says the health agency.
● Cold thawing
Freezing for seven days at -18°C is an effective method of destroying parasites in fish. It is particularly recommended before preparing fish-based dishes. Deep freezing also inactivates parasites in the meat.
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But if freezing makes it possible to interrupt microbial multiplication, thawing can reactivate it. To limit the risks, defrosting must be done in the fridge (for a fish it takes about four hours), and never at room temperature. Also, thawed food should not be refrozen, especially if it is raw.