I bet you can’t name another thing that soothes both your hunger and heart except food. But what happens when bacteria take over your favorite slice of pepperoni pizza from last night? You get sick.
According to a government statistics report, every one in six Americans get sick because of food poisoning. 128,000 of them need emergency medical treatment, and 3000 patients die every year due to foodborne conditions. Hence, this is not the situation you should ignore.
What bacterias cause foodborne diseases? What is the best way to limit the growth of bacteria in food? Does cooling cooked food before refrigerating decrease the risk of food poisoning? Take this food journey with me to find out all your answers.
Table of Content
What Is The Best Way To Limit The Growth Of Bacteria In Food?
Bacterial growth on food is enough to make you sick. Do not take the condition lightly. Food poisoning can put you in a critical health position, which needs emergency medical attention.
As a health-conscious person, what should you do for preventing foodborne illness? The proverb, “Prevention is better than cure.” fits in this situation. If you consider the severity and damage due to food poisoning, limiting the bacterial growth in food is the best option available out there.
How to prevent the growth of bacteria in food? Here are the tricks,
Maintain personal hygiene
When you are cooking or managing the kitchen, directly or indirectly, you should maintain personal cleanliness. Admit that we do lots of stuff every hour and forget to wash our hands. Money in your wallet or store-bought canned food, everything has bacteria on the surface.
If you do not clean your hands before cooking or after touching raw meats/veggies, microbes will pass from your hand to the food. In many cases, the lack of cleanliness of the cook is responsible for food poisoning.
Washing hands before and after handling food items, especially the raw items, like meat, fish, eggs, etc., can prevent bacterial growth. Apart from that, maintaining personal hygiene like washing hands with soap after touching pets, bins, or going to the toilet is also necessary to avoid food poisoning.
Kitchen hygiene is the game-changer
Imagine you strictly follow personal cleanliness, but your kitchen is nowhere near that. What do you think will happen? Yes, food poisoning and sleepless nights thinking about what is the best way to limit the growth of bacteria in food.
Experts strongly recommend maintaining kitchen hygiene. Here is how you can start,
- Wash the work pots, knives, utensils, chopping boards before and after usage.
- Use separate chopping boards for cutting raw items and vegetables. It is because raw meat or fish contains harmful bacteria which can contaminate the veggies or ready-to-cook foods.
- Raw foods should be kept away from ready-to-eat items to avoid cross-contamination. The micro-organisms from the uncooked jerked meat or fishes easily transfer from one food substance to another. Cross-contamination of food can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, etc.
- Store raw meat at the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, isolated, so that it does not drip or contaminate other foods.
- The kitchen sink is an ideal hiding place for germs and bacteria. Cleaning the disposal area with a bleaching solution once in a while will help you maintain a hygienic kitchen environment.
Limit bacterial growth by shopping right
Do you know you can act preventing foodborne illness by selecting food items the right way? For example, wrap up the raw meat or fish before putting it in your shopping cart. Avoid buying bloated juice bottles because chances are the beverage is not stored at the right temperature.
A few simple tricks and a vigilant attitude in the supermarket can stop you from worrying about what is the best way to limit the growth of bacteria in food.
The greens you buy may carry Salmonella, E.coli, or Shigella. Hence, washing the vegetables and fruits with water is so important. In the case of canned foods, use soapy water to fight the germs. The lids of the canned foods linger with germs and bacteria, which may end up in your food.
Proper cooking temperature
Cooking your food, especially raw meat, fish, sausage, kebab, at around 165 degrees Fahrenheit is the best way to limit the growth of bacteria. Freezing these items certainly reduces the level of bacteria but does not eliminate them wholly. Hence, maintaining a high cooking temperature is a must.
I have met people who cook chicken or meat at a low flame. It might give you temporary satisfaction, but there is always a risk of suffering from foodborne disease. Experts recommend cooking any raw food until it is steaming hot and the meat is not pink inside.
Hot or cold!
Health departments of different states suggest that keeping the food temperature either hot or cool can limit the bacterial growth in it. Usually, storing food at temperatures below 40 degrees and above 140 degrees Fahrenheit is considered safe.
This temperature range will keep you away from searching ‘what is the best way to limit the growth of bacteria in food’. However, anything within this range can be an issue of concern.
Refrigerating temperature and food preservation
Storing your food in the fridge is undoubtedly a better way to reduce the growth of harmful bacteria. However, maintaining a few rules is still necessary while preserving your food in a refrigerator. Otherwise, the micro-organisms may take over your favorite food sitting there.
The simple rule to minimize bacterial growth is to maintain a temperature below 5 degrees Celsius or 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the fridge. It limits the spread of bacteria. Overfilling the refrigerating space will work as an obstacle for the circulating air, and the foods lose their freshness.
The right way to store leftovers
If you ask a veteran chef ‘what is the best way to limit the growth of bacteria in food,’ he or she will advise you to store the foods properly. It will prevent any cross-contamination.
For example, let the just-cooked foods cool down for a maximum of 2 hours and put them in the fridge. Within the next 2 days, you can eat the leftovers or use them in any other dish. It is not advisable to eat any of those items after 2 to 3 days.
Expired foods invite bacteria
Do you check the expiry dates of food products before eating or using them? Scientists claim that after that particular date, bacteria and other microbes develop in the food quickly.
As a result, the expired foods spread an odor, and bacterial growth may appear on the surface. Consuming expiry foods will lead you to diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach ache.
Does Refrigeration Prevent Bacterial Growth In Food?
Temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and above 140 degrees Fahrenheit save foods from bacterial attack. In between these two temperatures, microbes spread rapidly, especially in raw meat and fish. So, what is the best way to limit the growth of bacteria in food? Well, to keep the temperature at the food-safe level.
In a refrigerator, a temperature of 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit is maintained. The temperature range can not eliminate the growth of bacteria but slows down their development for sure. As a result, foods stay fresh and eatable for more days.
There are some myths and exception rules regarding storing foods in a refrigerator and limiting bacterial development. For example, people believe cooked food needs to be cooled at room temperature before putting it into the fridge.
If not, then the hot food would raise the temperature inside the fridge and risk the health of other stored foods. There is no basis for such a theory. Experts suggest that cooling the just-cooked food for 90 to 120 minutes before putting it into the refrigerator is enough, no matter what the temperature is.
When you are asking what is the best way to limit the growth of bacteria in food, freezing is always a great option. However, there is an exception. A bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes thrives in refrigeration temperature. Items like raw meat, cheese, seafood, pates, etc., are at high risk of spoiling with this bacteria.
How Do Salt And Sugar Prevent Bacterial Growth?
Salting, salt curing, sugar curing, or corning is the traditional way of preventing microbial spoilage and storing food. Sugar (sucrose) or salt (brine) can be used in both a solid form or an aqueous mixture to prevent bacterial growth in food.
I am sure you are familiar with using the salt solution to preserve pickles, bacon, salt pork or sugar-coating ham, fruity jam, etc. However, other preservation or curing techniques are available, which are directly or indirectly dependent on salt and sugar.
Sugar and salt are used as primary preservation agents due to their excellent ability to prevent bacterial growth in food. How do they inhibit microbe spoilage? The answer is simple via the osmosis process.
Salt or sugar coating or mixture draws out the water from inside the food and replaces those spaces with their own molecules. You know, the microbial needs water for development and growth. And the lack of water in the food omits the risk of rapid bacterial attack.
Does Spicy Food Kill Bacteria?
Different researches support that some spices can fight bacteria. Garlic, cinnamon, oregano, and turmeric are the best bacteria killers. Other seasonings like onion, cloves, ginger, cayenne, etc., also shield against the micro-organisms.
However, eating spicy foods has its own risks and disadvantages. You should measure both the benefits and drawbacks before preparing your diet menu. Otherwise, you may end up searching about what is the best way to limit the growth of bacteria in food.
What Conditions Are Needed For Bacterial Growth?
It is mandatory to have minimum knowledge about bacterial growth in food to eliminate the risk of food poisoning. Bacteria are present everywhere around us and even within our bodies. Thus, it is impossible to cease the existence of bacteria from our food.
Also, not all food bacteria harm us. Some micro-organisms are actually friendly to our health and benefit us in many ways. For example, lactobacillus bacteria, Saccharomyces boulardii, etc.
However, other bacteria like Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium perfringens, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus are responsible for foodborne diseases. To limit the growth of bacteria in your food, you should manipulate the conditions they are born.
The requirements for bacterial growth are,
- Warm temperature (5 to 63 degrees celsius)
- Moisture holding foods are more welcoming for bacteria
- Foods with neutral pH are most likely to have a rapid microbial spoilage
- Raw meats and dairy products provide the bacteria the right environment, energy, and food to survive and grow
If you can eliminate the risks, preventing bacterial growth is not a challenging task anymore.
So, what is the best way to limit the growth of bacteria in food? I personally believe maintaining personal and kitchen hygiene work well in preventing microbial spoilage and foodborne diseases. Besides, being careful with the food cooking and storing temperature leaves no space for bacterial growth.
- How Do You Prevent Bacteria In Food?
Bacteria are everywhere, and it is impossible to eliminate them. However, preventing the growth of bacteria in food is possible with a few simple steps. For example,
- Focusing on personal hygiene
- Keeping the kitchen area and tools clean
- Using separate utensils and chopping boards for raw meats and ready to cook foods
- Maintaining proper cooking and refrigeration temperature, etc.
2. What Is The Most Common Cause Of Foodborne Illness?
Dozens of bacteria are out in the environment, which can contaminate your raw meat or improperly cooked food. The most common bacteria that cause foodborne illness are,
- E. Coli
- Staphylococcus aureus
Before you start working on what is the best way to limit the growth of bacteria in food, it’s better to take steps to prevent these bacterias to reach your food.
3. What Are The Symptoms Of Foodborne Illness?
Foodborne diseases or food poisoning show some signs and indications of the condition. Such as,
- Stomach cramp
- Joint pain
In most cases, enough rest, light meals, avoiding spicy food, and drinking mineral water helps preventing foodborne illness and better the condition. In severe cases, a medical emergency might be needed.