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Maintain food safety, hygiene in summer

37 Take extra care to protect food in summer and keep bacteria at bay.
Saurabh Arora, founder of www.foodsafetyhelpine.com, shares tips on food safety and hygiene:
* Maintain hygiene: Wash hands before cooking and after handling raw meat, fish and poultry. Dry hands with a clean towel. Make a habit of wearing an apron in the kitchen. Avoid cooking and touching food items if you have cold, runny nose or fever. Before handling food, make sure that all cooking surfaces are spotlessly clean. Wash all utensils with soap and water. Preferably use a separate chopping board for meat.
* Clean your produce: With the growing concern about pesticide residues remaining on the surface of fruits and vegetables, it will be a good idea to soak them in lukewarm water with some salt and vinegar for two hours. Before eating (fruits) or cooking (vegetables), wash them under running tap water to get rid of any last traces of pesticides.
* Maintain correct temperature: This is the most relevant tip for maintaining food safety during the hot summer months. The temperature of the refrigerator must be maintained at four degree celsius and the freezer at -15 to -18 degree celsius. Store away raw meat and poultry in the freezer compartment.
When required, thaw out in the refrigerator compartment itself, but separate from other items of food. Make sure to thaw the meat thoroughly. Marinate the meat in the fridge; use the sauce only for cooking, and not for serving. Never serve cooked meat on the same plate used for marinating. Once served, food should not be kept outside for more than two hours. If eating outdoors, use a chiller box with plenty of ice packs. Use separate boxes for food and beverages. Avoid opening the box too often to maintain the cool temperature inside. Also, avoid exposure of the chiller box to direct sunlight.
* Safety tips for outdoor picnics: Food safety begins with proper hand cleaning – including outdoor settings. Before you begin setting out your picnic feast, make sure hands and surfaces are clean. If you don’t have access to running water, simply use a water jug, soap, and paper towels; or consider using disposable wet wipes for cleaning hands.