In the classroom


When working in any kind of environment where food is being prepared to consume, safety must be the priority. In order to insure the safety of food, you must be aware of how to prepare yourself, the food, and kitchen to keep everything healthy. Food safety is often split into four different categories-Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.

Read about how doing specific things for each category will keep you and your body safe from food born illnesses. Also be aware of the different causes behind food born illnesses and how to prevent them while cooking in your kitchen. Know the symptoms that may occur as well.

Making sure YOU are ready to cook!

The first step in ensuring safety is making sure that you are healthy and clean yourself. If you are sick and possibly contagious you should not be working in the kitchen for fear of contamination and spread the sickness. If you have experienced vomiting, diarrhea or a fever within the past 24 hours do not participate in cooking either.

If you are cleared to cook then before you start wash your hands well. You should spend about 20 seconds washing hands with anti-bacterial hand soap and dry with a clean towel or paper towel. Make sure that you do not touch your hair or face after you have cleaned your hands. If you do, simply re-wash hands. If you sneeze at any point during cooking you should then also re-wash hands.

Prepping cooking area

Bacteria can be spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, and counter tops. When you start preparing to cook your meal make sure that the kitchen you are working in is clean. This means that the counters and all equipment have been cleaned since the last use.

Clean counter tops with proper cleaning solutions and paper towels. Use paper towels or clean cloths to wipe up kitchen surfaces or spills if they occur as well. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot, soapy water prior to cooking and after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next item.

Make sure your ingredients are safe

Wash all produce before using, even if you are going to peel them. Rinse produce under running water. Don’t use soap, detergent, bleach, or commercial produce washes.

Scrub firm produce like melons or cucumbers—with a clean produce brush.

Dry produce with a paper towel or clean cloth towel. Don't worry about washing meat, poultry or eggs.

Also check that all the ingredients are as fresh as possible, if not they may be starting to or are rotting which can cause bacteria and viruses to began to flourish in you meal. By ensuring you food is clean before using you can stop food born illnesses from occurring.

The Importance of Cleaning and Washing During Food Preparation

Separating certain foods

Unless you keep foods separate they can still cause food born bacterial illness. Specially raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Use two different cutting boards for meat and vegetables. Also do not use the same utensils or knives for the different raw and cooked foods.

When you don't keep them separated it leads to cross contamination of bacterias. Place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping or leaking onto other foods when they are not being used.

Cooking the right way

Many people assume they can tell when food is done by checking its color and texture, however there’s no way to be sure it’s safe without following a few steps. Specific foods and meats have certain temperature that they reach when they are fully cooked. Use a food thermometer to make sure you food has reached a safe temperature to consume


When cooking the danger zone is most of the time between 40 and 140 degrees. At this temperature its the optimal time for bacteria to thrive. causing in increase chance of food born illnesses to spread. Also try and keep food warm even after it is prepared to keep it above that 140 degree mark.


By refrigerating foods promptly and properly, you can help keep safe from food poisoning in the kitchen. Cold temperatures slow the growth of illness causing bacteria. So it’s important to chill food promptly and properly. Your fridge should be between 40 and 32 degrees.

Get perishable foods into the fridge or freezer within two hours. In the hot months, cut this time down to one hour. Remember to store leftovers within two hours as well. By dividing leftovers into several clean, shallow containers, you’ll allow them to chill faster. Be careful when you are also thawing frozen foods. use the fridge, water, or microwave.

Common Mistakes

Putting cooked meat back on a plate that held raw meat-this leads to a ton of cross contamination. Either clean the plate correctly before reusing it or use a new plate. Thawing food on the counter is another mistake, stick to the fridge, cold water or the microwave. Marinating meat or seafood on the counter is common as well. You should however always marinate in the fridge where it is cooler.

Harmful germs in meat or seafood can multiply extremely rapidly at room temperature. So be careful when keeping things out at room temperature. Many people think that you can wash meat or poultry but washing raw meat or poultry can spread bacteria to your sink, countertops, and other surfaces in your kitchen.

Common food born illnesses

Harmful bacteria are the most common causes of food poisoning, but there are many other causes that can contribute as well. It can be from bacteria & viruses, parasites, mold & toxins, and allergens. These can be avoided by following prior tips though!

More than 250 different food born diseases have been described. These different diseases have many different symptoms, so there is no one "syndrome" that is food born illness. However, the bad microbes enters the body through the gastrointestinal tract, and often cause symptoms there, so nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea are common in many food born diseases.

Bad bacteria

Bacteria and viruses are the most common cause of food poisoning. The symptoms and severity of food poisoning vary, depending on which bacteria or virus has contaminated the food you consume. In the United States salmonella, norovirus, E. Coli, and listeria are some of the most common.

These bad bacteria can cause illness, hospitalization, and death when you become infected by them. The long term affects can be Kidney failure, chronic arthritis, brain & nerve damage. Seek medical help if you began to show symptoms of any kind.

By Noah Wallace 7th period