Situations during the COVID-19 pandemic will call for so many preparations, one of which is keeping food safe for the days ahead.
Food can go bad and also bring its own health challenges if consumed in a bad state. That is why safety must be considered in situations like this.
One of the surest ways to guarantee food safety is to buy wholesome produce from the market or directly from farmers.
If you have access to the farmers, just ensure that the they have good farming practices in place to ensure the safety of whatever they produce.
For most of us who will buy from the markets and the roadside shops, let us tell the retailer to buy from the correct farmer. Otherwise, we choose retailers who buy from good sources.
Another thing we can do is to inspect the wholesomeness of the products we buy from the retailer.
The rotten ones are not good for our consumption so do not choose them even if their prices are drastically reduced to clear. The ones that are smelling of chemicals are also not good for consumption, so reject them if they are offered even at the best price.
The ones which are withered when they should be fresh are also not good at all, so do not patronize them. Just ensure that the food products you buy to stock up are fresh and wholesome.
When you get home, storing of these food items will have to be on point to ensure that they survive their shelf life. Thorough washing is required before storage.
Perishables like tomatoes, onions, pepper, garlic, garden eggs, kontomire, etc. will have to be cleaned and refrigerated or frozen to prolong shelve life. This will have to be done promptly when you get home from the market.
As much as possible, avoid doing what some people like to do; they buy meat or fish at 10 am, keep it in the kitchen or in the car all day till evening before they eventually refrigerate it. By that time, the meat and fish would have started going bad. Yet they will still freeze it because they don’t want it to go to waste.
On the day you use it; you would have been eating spoilt meat or fish. May be you do not notice that because it is not fully rotten with maggots, but the freshness and taste would definitely change, so try to avoid it at all cost to ensure your food safety at home.
Another way of keeping perishable food items or ingredients for longer periods is to use them to prepare meals for storage. So instead of storing the raw tomatoes, pepper or onions, use them for stews or puree and then freeze them for future use.
It is always safer to store stews and soups in smaller plastic bowls or containers that will be consumed in one meal by the whole family at a time.
Try and avoid having to remove big bowls of stew to reheat and then put back into the freezer. There will be no need to re-freeze after taking the small bowl of stew from the freezer that can be consumed at one meal time.
But if it has to be done from bigger bowls, then ensure thorough heating of stored/frozen foods like stews and soups before consuming.
Never assume that the hot steaming rice you scoop from the pot onto your plate will be able to heat the cold stew that you just removed from the fridge. This is a common habit by many people in a hurry to eat which has to be discouraged since it is not a safe practice.
The stew or soup must always be reheated to kill any bacteria that may have formed during preservation. Always do this to avoid food contamination which can also lead to food poisoning.
1. Ensure that you cover food items all the time and also use clean knives, spoons and plates to serve food.
2. Clean kitchen surfaces, sinks, fridges and freezers frequently and thoroughly with water and soap to kill any germs or viruses which can end up contaminating your food.
3. Wash your hands often but thoroughly with running water and soap when dealing with food items in the kitchen.
4. Remove rubbish from the kitchen periodically. Do not allow the dustbins to become full and overflowing overnight before you empty them in the morning. It breeds germs and other harmful bacteria in the kitchen.
These are the germs which end up contaminating our food items in the kitchen, so dispose of the rubbish every day and do not leave it in the kitchen overnight.
Once your ingredients are fresh and wholesome, you are ready to prepare healthy meals; that has to be your aim to ensuring food safety in the home.
Do not use your fresh and healthy vegetables and other ingredients to prepare unhealthy, excessively fried, oily and too salty foods because such meals can make you ill.
Remember that too much oily and salty foods are not good for your health and general wellbeing so avoid eating such foods as much as you can.
By: Margaret Akoa Nawurah.