April 7, 2015 is the World Health Organization's (WHO) World Health Day.
This year, the topic is "Food Safety" (complete with a to-die-for cute video—albeit on a serious topic!).
I have often allowed myself to fall into complacency regarding food safety, but the truth is—food contamination can affect us all.
The WHO video: 5 Keys to Safer Food
Of course, I can't mention a video without sharing! This kid-friendly epic has fabulous animation and enough scary-cute animated creatures, action scenes, and sound effects to rival any feature film.
Most importantly, the video reviews 5 keys to food safety so well that even young kids will likely stay tuned for the whole 3:38 minutes.
- Keep clean to prevent contamination.
- Separate raw and cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination.
- Cook thoroughly to kill micro-organisms.
- Keep food at safe temperatures to prevent bacterial growth.
- Use safe water and safe raw materials to avoid contamination.
Visit WHO's Food Safety page: http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2015/en/
Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONkKy68HEIM
5 Food safety stockpile savings takeaways
Maintaining food safety is both more critical and more challenging when you have food stockpiled. These tips can help!
1. Label and date ALL stockpile items.
This is a tip KCL continually stresses for two main reasons:
- Stockpile items that go bad cancel out the time and savings benefits of having a stockpile.
- Eating stockpile items that are no longer safe can cause illness.
You can avoid ever losing time or money on your stockpile by simply labeling and dating each item, and placing items nearest to date expiration closest to the front.
2. Keep refrigerated stockpile items in their proper places.
This is a tip professional chefs use on a daily basis. Why? Because improperly stored food can cause food safety issues (and nothing clears out even the most popular restaurant faster than a reported case of mass food poisoning!). The same goes for your stockpile: if your family falls ill and you don't know what refrigerated stockpile item(s) caused it, there’s a serious problem.
Here is what you need to know:
- Doors and middle shelves are the least cold. Store only non-milk beverages and snack foods on the door, and only items that are frequently grabbed and consumed on the middle shelves.
- Lower shelves are the hands-down coldest. Store meats here (this also avoids cross-contamination if any juices run out).
- Upper shelves are both cold and the most consistently stable temperature-wise. Store veggies and fruits, perishable snacks (like dips) and prepared well-packaged deli items in this area.
- On top of the refrigerator is a hot zone. As such, it is NOT a good place to store any food items other than cereal or something that can be kept at room temperature.
3. Store your stockpile at safe temperatures from spring through winter.
Here again, even the most carefully labeled and dated items may spoil if they’re not stored at their ideal storage temperatures.
- Freezer temperatures should be kept at 0° F (-18° C).
- Refrigerator temperatures should be kept at 40° F (4° C).
- Non or less perishable items should be stored in cool, dry conditions—and food items should be stored AWAY from cleaning and household products items.
4. Visible spoiling is the least of your worries—it’s the spoilage you CAN'T see that’s dangerous!
Mold is easy to spot—items turn colors, stink and wilt. However, the really dangerous micro-organisms are so small they can't be spotted, even as they multiply.
Of course, you want your food to be mold-free, but this is why proper storage, stockpile rotation, and labels/dates are so critical to your family's health.
- WHEN IN DOUBT: Throw it out! 2.2 Million deaths occur each year due to contaminated food and water.
5. Don't forget about checking your stored bottled water and emergency water rations.
This is one area where most of us are nearly blind to any dangers. But water can have its safety challenges too.
What you should know about storing water:
- Store emergency water in FOOD-GRADE containers and replace every six months. Food-grade containers can be as simple as well-washed soda bottles, but the key here is that if your emergency water has not been bottled commercially (i.e. not by you), it may become tainted anyway. So mark the date you bottle it, and set your calendar to alert you to replace it every six months (for more see ready.gov).
- Water that shows signs of contamination should not be consumed. Water that is cloudy, has floating particles, emits a stale or foul odor or sets off warning bells in other ways should be discarded. Since water is not required to be sold with expiration dates, it’s up to you whether to drink or toss!
- Even commercially bottled water can go bad. To ensure your investment in your bottled water stockpile can be realized, store water in a cool, dry and dark place. Otherwise, exposure to heat/light can trigger the growth of mold, algae or other contaminants that can sneak in through the plastic (for more see bottledwater.org).