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Health

Food Safety Guide: Health in Our Kitchen and Body

Our modern and fast-paced diet often makes us overlook some crucial issues related to our health and well-being. Whether you are a professional chef or cook once or twice a week, safety and health are always important!

The inspiration for this article came from the 2024 campaign by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) with #EUChooseSafeFood. In this campaign, 17 countries actively engage in joint actions to help consumers make informed decisions about their food choices. One of these countries is, of course, Greece.

It seems that for consumers to actively participate and see results from their dietary choices, they need to consider three general aspects of these matters:

  1. What is in your food? The ingredients of a dish, potential additives, and preservatives must be safe.
  2. Food choices and health. The variety of foods and the proportion of unprocessed foods we choose are crucial for our health and well-being.
  3. Food safety. Your food is safe when it meets the above two conditions and is also processed correctly and according to European and global regulations and laws. This makes it safe.

According to studies undertaken by this campaign, most consumers are interested in food safety, but the information is extremely technical, making it difficult to understand. That’s why EFSA has prioritized effective communication of the science.

Food safety in our homes is also important. We need to be aware of foodborne illnesses, improper handling, correctly reading labels, and reducing food waste.

Here is a small guide to keep your kitchen safe and your meals healthy:

  1. Cleanliness is next to godliness! Hands should be washed with antiseptic soap for at least 20 seconds, especially before handling meat, eggs, and seafood. Surfaces should be cleaned with vinegar or a special cleaner that indicates it is safe for food. The use of bleach and strong cleaners is prohibited. Cleaners should be stored in a separate cupboard.
  2. Cutting surfaces. Different cutting surfaces should be used for meats and seafood than for vegetables and fruits. You can use two colors to distinguish them, e., green for vegetables and fruits, red for meat/seafood. In the fridge, raw meats should be stored on the bottom shelf and covered.
  3. Meats should be cooked to at least 165°F (74°C). Do not partially cook food with the intention of finishing it later, as this can promote the growth of pathogenic bacteria. If reheating food, it is best to do so only once. Do not refreeze cooked food that has been thawed once.
  4. Place cooked food in the fridge within 2 hours (or 1 hour if room temperature is above 90°F (32°C)). Keep your fridge at 40°F (4°C) and the freezer at 0°F (-18°C). Use an internal thermometer to check this.
  5. Expiration dates/food waste. Plan weekly which ingredients you will consume based on their expiration dates. If in doubt, it’s better to throw it out. Plan, however, to avoid wasting money and food!
  6. Stay informed. Follow reliable sources on social media (FDA, USDA, CDC, EFSA). They organize many campaigns to protect consumers and provide practical advice.

Be aware of foodborne illnesses. Well-being and good health are too important to overlook! Remember that a little attention in your kitchen can work wonders for your health and those you care for! Happy cooking!

* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. People should consult their doctor before taking herbs, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant, or are under the age of 6.

Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics, MSc in Botany-Biology and MSc in Horticulture & Viticulture.

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