This note is mainly for beginning cooks. I have to admit, I am known for being a bit paranoid of germs and contamination in the kitchen. Yes, it’s true that some germs are good for us; but it’s also important to understand a bit about food safety as well. No one wants that food to come back fighting!
A quick note on cooking safety in handling raw meat (including, beef, eggs, fish or chicken).
Wash your hands before you start cooking and wash hands very well after handling raw meat, etc. Also, wash the faucet knob or other surfaces you may have touched when you had raw meat on your hands.
Change the spoon at least once during the cooking process. It is important to change the spoons or spatula you are using when cooking any kind of meat, chicken, fish or eggs. You don’t want to use the same one at the end on the cooked food that you used at the beginning on the raw food.
Use a different cutting board for cutting raw meat than for vegetables.
Use a clean platter for serving. When removing cooked foods, make sure to place them on a clean plate or serving dish – not on one that held raw meat, etc.
It is also important to clean up spills of raw meat, fish, egg, etc. from the countertops, and in the refrigerator as well. I usually pre-wash bowls, spoons, etc. that had raw meat on them so that they don’t contaminate the dishwater.
Don’t store a packet of raw meat, etc. above cooked food in the refrigerator as drips may contaminate the cooked food.
Always defrost frozen meat in the refrigerator or in a bowl of cold water on the counter if it won’t take very long. Generally, you should never leave meat out to defrost at room temperature as too much bacteria will grow and it becomes toxic.
Be careful not to leave cooked food at room temperature for too long. As a rule of thumb, you can eat it within up to 2 hours at room temperature (but not outdoors in hot sun). If left out for 2+ hours, it should be re-heated thoroughly before consuming. If left out for more than 4 hours, it is not safe even if cooked as the bacteria can make the food toxic and make you sick. This is even true of rice.