NHM Health Focus: Food Safety
Clean! Separate! Cook! and Chill! To keep food safe and prevent foodborne illnesses, we:
Clean, separate, cook and chill are important guidelines for safe food preparation, but what about safe food storage? Between the time food is first harvested or prepared and the time it arrives at our tables, it must be stored in a way that assures its safety and maintains its quality. That is, it must be preserved. Food preservation requires that the organisms competing with us for our food (bacteria, fungi, beetles, and more) be killed or inhibited.
Depending on the type of food and our circumstances, we can use cold temperatures (refrigeration and freezing), high temperatures (cooking and canning), salt (pickling, jerky), sugar (jams, jellies), dessication (beans, jerky), and irradiation to discourage organisms competing for our food. People have been salting and drying food for centuries. Chilling and freezing are more convenient when we have ready access to refrigerators and freezers and a reliable source of electricity to keep them running. Irradiation is newer and in the United States, less common. However, NASA astronauts and the US military have been dining on irradiated food since 1960. Irradiation preserves the food and decreases the need for use of chemical fumigants and other preservatives.
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum has these resources related to food and food safety: