When you’re in the kitchen, safety is obviously pretty important. That’s why you don’t plunk down raw meat right onto your kitchen counter or use expired ingredients. It’s also probably why your mom warned you not to eat raw cookie dough. But no matter how much you think you know about food safety, it’s easy to make some pretty gross food prep mistakes without even realizing it. Unfortunately, some of the mistakes you may be making when you’re preparing or cooking your food can make you and your family sick.
Even the best home cook may be guilty of messing up on food safety. And we’re not talking about using milk that smells fine, but is a day or two past its use-by date. (Seriously, everybody does that.) Unfortunately, there are some bigger mistakes that you may be making. Mistakes that can ruin your food and perhaps even send you to the emergency room. Read on to find out what you should avoid, and to make sure that you — and the family members who trust you to feed them — aren’t going to be the next victims of a foodborne illness or runaway bacteria growth.
1. Undercooking your food or ignoring cooking time
Food52 reports that most common wisdom about preventing foodborne illness is misguided. People worry about germs and parasites inside food. But more than 80% of food poisoning cases in the United States are caused by fecal contamination on the outside of food.
The Food and Drug Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture recommend safe cooking temperatures to kill bacteria. But they ignore cooking time, the other crucial part of the equation. You can either cook your food to an FDA-recommended temperature for a second or two to kill the bacteria, or you can maintain lower temperatures for a longer amount of time. Use a sous vide water bath, for instance, to maintain a constant temperature for a longer cooking time.