Meat mistakes that could cost your family’s health
No matter how much time you spend picking out good ingredients and choosing healthy food options, there still are common practices that you do in the kitchen that could be endangering your family’s health.
According to Dr. Robert H. Lo, owner and chief executive of Red Dragon Farms (the company behind Fresh Options Meatshop), food poisoning can happen when meat products contaminated by salmonella and E.coli are not properly processed or cooked.
“Because the National Meat Inspection Services performs such tight inspections on local and imported meats from the slaughterhouse to the final retail outlets, the incidence of contaminated meat in the Philippine market remains relatively low,” said Lo, with a caveat that food poisoning mostly occurs at home, where cooking is done.
It is important to note that most bacteria can be easily killed via proper cooking. However, if the meat is not properly handled, there’s a chance of cross-contamination, which is when harmful bacteria or allergens spread to food from other food, surfaces, hands, or equipment.
Here are some common practices that are dangerous to your family’s health:
Defrosting in running water. This exposes meat to any bacteria in the water and gives the microorganisms enough time and ideal condition to establish themselves. Instead, defrost meat at least overnight in an airtight bag or container in the refrigerator. You can also microwave your meat on your microwave’s defrost setting.
Believing that freezing kills off harmful bacteria. Freezing does not kill bacteria, it just stops it from multiplying. If you defrost previously frozen meat, it becomes vulnerable to pathogens.
Washing meat in water before cooking. Again, you are exposing meat to the bacteria in water.
Not cooking food all the way through. Serving undercooked meat, especially chicken, is particularly dangerous. If you didn’t destroy all the bacteria present in the meat, you have now given it one of the best environments for it to grow as the food sits on the counter, cooling. To prevent this, always cook meat all the way through, at least 75ºC at the center of its thickest part.
Using the same utensils on cooked and raw meat. We usually use the same dishes, forks, or tongs when handling cooked and raw meat. This is a definite no-no. Use different utensils and make sure what touches raw meat never touches any cooked food that’s meant to be served.