Safe steps in handling food safely for prepper pantry cooking and storage are essential to prevent food borne illness from harmful bacteria.
Many people are in a hurry to start a prepper pantry, in case of an emergency, but you can’t see, smell or taste harmful bacteria that may cause illness.
These basics of handling food safely are “mistakes” that preppers commonly make, but following these steps can help you avoid them.
In every step of prepper pantry food preparation, follow the four steps of the USDA to keep food safe:
Purchase refrigerated or frozen items after selecting your non-perishables.
Never choose meat or poultry in packaging that is torn or leaking.
Do not buy food past “Sell-By,” “Use-By,” or other expiration dates.
Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours—1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F (32.2 ºC).
Check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer with an appliance thermometer.
The refrigerator should be at 40 °F (4.4 ºC) or below and the freezer at 0 °F (-17.7 ºC) or below.
Cook, freeze or can fresh poultry, fish, ground meats and variety meats within 2 days; other beef, veal, lamb, or pork, within 3 to 5 days.
Perishable food such as meat and poultry should be wrapped securely to maintain quality and to prevent meat juices from getting onto other food.
To maintain quality when freezing meat and poultry in its original package, wrap the package again with foil or plastic wrap that is recommended for the freezer.
Canned foods are safe indefinitely as long as they are not exposed to freezing temperatures, or temperatures above 90 °F.
If the cans look OK, they are safe to use.
Discard cans that are dented, rusted, or swollen.
High-acid canned food (tomatoes, fruits) will keep their best quality for 12 to 18 months; low acid canned food (meats, vegetables) for 2 to 5 years.
Always wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices away from other food.
After cutting raw meats, wash cutting board, utensils and countertops with hot, soapy water.
Using a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water can sanitize cutting boards, utensils and countertops.
Marinate meat and poultry in a covered dish in the refrigerator.
Make sure thawing meat and poultry juices do not drip onto other food.
Submerge in cold tap water.
Change the water every 30 minutes.
Cook immediately after thawing.
Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F (62.8 ºC) as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source.
For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.
For reasons of personal preference, you may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.
These food safety tips may seem obvious, but as simple as washing hands is, cross contamination is one of the most common culprits of food borne illness in prepper pantry storage.
Handling food safely before you store it is your emergency food storage insurance policy.