While I was working at Dream Dinners, I became ServSafe® Certified. What does that mean? If I met you on the street, I am certified to give you food…or something along those lines. During my certification classes, I learned everything there is to know about food safety, cooking times, storage conditions, foodborne illness, and much, much more than I ever thought I’d learn about food safety.
I thought I’d share a few of the tips and rules of thumb that I learned during class. Some of them are common sense, but are worth repeating. Others may be new to you. All of them should be being followed at your local Dream Dinners store.
1. Wash your hands. So easy, you teach your 3 year old to do it. Use very warm, running water and soap. Scrub for 20-3o seconds, making sure to get under and around the nail. Rinse and dry. As an extra tip, use a paper towel to open the door handle after washing your hands, since others may not be as diligent as you are with their hand-washing routine.
2. Avoid dented/bulging cans. Bulging cans are signs of food that has gone bad – bacteria are releasing gases that make the can bulge outwards. If a can has been dented, it’s possible that a small hole was created in the can that would allow air/moisture into the can. This could lead to microorganisms growing in the can, which may cause illness if eaten. Some dents (ones that are smooth and not on the seams) may be OK, but it’s better safe than sorry. Most stores will allow you to return bulging or dented cans.
3. Don’t thaw food on the counter. There are a few methods that can safely thaw your food: thaw in the fridge, thaw in the microwave (*beware* this may also start the cooking process, so make sure you’re cooking it ASAP), thaw in cold water (changing the water every 30 minutes or so to make sure the water stays cold.) Thawing food on the counter allows icky bacteria to start growing.
4. 7 is the lucky number. A good rule of thumb as to how long you can keep food in the fridge is about 7 days. For seafood, I think it’s closer to 3. That’s 7 days total from first purchase. So if you buy chicken on day one, keep it in the fridge for two days, then freeze it, you only have 4 days after thawing for that chicken to still be considered ‘safe’. All of the Dream Dinners meats should come in frozen, so you should be able to keep those thawed in the fridge for the full 7 days.
That’s it for today’s food safety lesson. Stay tuned for more food safety tips.