As we shelter in place to minimize the spread of COVID-19, most of us are cooking at home more than ever. So how can you reduce food waste and ensure the food you’re consuming is safe? We have some tips.
- Sanitize surfaces and utensils regularly. The CDC recommends cleaning surfaces with soap and hot water before sanitizing. Placing utensils in water that is 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit will sanitize them or you can use a solution of one tablespoon bleach to one gallon of water. The CDC estimates that the virus can live on hard surfaces for up to three days, so regularly wipe down counters, tables, your car, and your credit cards.
- If possible, let food items sit. Although there is no evidence of COVID-19 being transmitted through packaging to food, let non-perishables sit for 48 to 72 hours before using to avoid cross contamination and be sure to avoid cans and boxes with dents and rips.
- Wash fruits and vegetables with water. There is no reason to avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables, just be just to wash them thoroughly with water and wash hands after peeling produce.
- Consume ready-to-eat meals within one week. Whether it’s take out or you’re cooking it at home, keep prepared foods refrigerated at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower and heat cooked foods to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill bacteria. When reheating food, heat only the portion you plan to eat.
- Wash your hands. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water before and after handing food. This is important year round, but especially relevant right now.
- Understand expiration dates. The only mandated expiration date by the FDA is for baby formula. All other “best by” dates are estimates by private sellers. Read expiration dates for reference, but also rely on your sense of smell, sight, and feel to assess your foods for expiration.