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Given that food is such a big part of our lives, World Food Safety Day is observed on June 7 every year by the World Health Organisation and Food and Agriculture Organisation. The day is set aside to mark the importance of consuming healthy, fresh, and hygienic food. Access to safe and fresh food is essential for the nourishment of our body and there are no two ways about this. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us are forced to stay indoors. In such times, many of us have also resorted to cooking all our meals at home and spending long hours in the kitchen. This, invariably, calls for the highest levels of food safety.Here are a few tips to ensure that your food is cooked, stored, and consumed safely:(Also Read: World Food Safety Day: WHO Shares 5 Keys To Safer Food)1. Wash Your HandsThis simple practice can go a long way in protecting you and your family from various kinds of infections and diseases. Always wash your hands after coming home from outside, as well as, after cutting meat and chopping vegetables. Always sanitize all utensils and appliances used while handling raw meat to avoid any kind of contamination. Always wash your hands after coming home from outside2. Avoid Overpacking Your During the lockdown, you may be tempted to hoard groceries and vegetables and stuff your refrigerator with essential supplies. However, it is best to avoid doing that as air circulation is required to keep your food cool. Overstuffing your refrigerator can cause the loss of air circulation leaving your fridge temperature uneven. Overstuffing your refrigerator can cause the loss of air circulation3. Be Strategic About Loading Your RefrigeratorCome up with an effective and safe strategy to store food in your refrigerator. Designate shelves and drawers to specific types of food. Keep your raw meat section away from your fresh produce section to avoid any kind of food contamination. Sanitize all bottles and food boxes properly before storing them inside your refrigerator. (Also Read: World Food Safety Day 2021: Theme, Significance And 4 Easy Tips To Keep Your Food Safe)4. Reheat All Leftover FoodEnsure that you reheat all leftover food properly before storing it. Reheating food is essential as it kills any harmful bacteria that may have grown since the food was cooked. Pro tip: Avoid reheating leftover food twice as the chances of bacteria multiplying are higher.5. Allow Leftover Food To Cool Completely Before StoringAfter reheating your leftover food ensure that it cools down completely before storing it in airtight boxes. Never put hot food into the refrigerator as it will lose its nutritive value and will spoil faster due to bacteria. Never put the hot leftover food for storage6. Keep A Track Of The Expiration Dates Do not forget that leftover food is perishable. As a thumb rule ensure you finish all leftover food within a 2-3 day period. To avoid eating stale food ensure that you label your food containers with the date of when it was stored so you know when to discard it. Always check the expiry date of the food7. Thaw Frozen Foods The Right WayThere are three safe and foolproof ways to thaw or defrost your food correctly. Thaw in the refrigerator – If raw meat was stored in the freezer section, bring it down to the fridge section to begin the thawing process.Run under cold water or set in cold water – If you set frozen food in cold water ensure that you change the water every 30 minutes to keep the food from getting too warm. Ensure that you cook the food immediately afterward.Thaw or defrost in the microwave – Only use this method if you plan on cooking your food immediately afterward.Never thaw your food on the countertop at room temperature as it can cause uneven temperatures throughout the food. While thawing food, ensure that temperatures never reach the danger zone between 4℃ and 60℃ which will cause bacteria to rapidly multiply and cause foodborne illness. There are three safe and foolproof ways to thaw or defrost your food correctly. 8. Keep Track Of Your Perishables With an increase in canned and packaged food in the house, it is essential to keep track of the ‘use by’ and ‘use before’ dates on all packaged food items. Do not consume foods beyond their expiration dates even if they were stored in the refrigerator. Particularly in the case of bread, as stale bread is home to fungus and bacteria that can cause illness. Consume all baked goods before their expiration dates. (Also Read: To Eat Or Not To Eat: The Importance Of Food Safety In Post Covid-19 World)9. Cleaning Vs Disinfecting Cleaning is the process of removing dirt, soil, and germs from a surface or from vegetables and fruits. Disinfecting is the process of using chemicals to kill microorganisms present on surfaces and sanitize them. 10. Engage The Whole Family In Cleaning Activities Turn the tedious task of cleaning and disinfecting into a fun activity to engage the whole family and to educate young children on the importance of cleaning. Task your family with identifying all the common touchpoints in the household from the shelf handles to doorknobs and the refrigerator handle and then clean and disinfect them. Clean your house everyday to ensure food safetyFollow these 10 tips and keep your family safe and secure from all illnesses!

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