In Safe Hands
Food & Home Entertaining|June 2020
Managing the safety of our food – from freezer or fridge to fork or fingers, indoors and outdoors – has many hidden dangers. In tribute to World Food Safety Day on 7 June, we consult the experts on some of your most commonly asked questions
Susan Reynard

1 DOES HOT FOOD HAVE TO COOL COMPLETELY BEFORE BEING REFRIGERATED OR FROZEN?

“Cooked food should be cooled down to 4°C or frozen within about two hours after cooking,” says Professor Lucia Anelich of Anelich Consulting. Specialising in food safety consulting and training, Lucia is the immediate past president of the South African Association for Food Science and Technology (SAAFoST). Hot food should be left to cool slightly after cooking, at room temperature, and then refrigerated or frozen. “Remember not to pack the refrigerator or freezer too full with warm food that has been added. Cold air must circulate to refrigerate or freeze food quickly,” she elaborates.

CAN YOU CATCH CORONAVIRUS FROM FOOD?

“There is currently no evidence to suggest that the novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 (also referred to as Covid-19) is transmitted through food or food packaging,” notes Professor Lucia Anelich of Anelich Consulting, specialising in food safety consulting and training. Two closely related viruses, MERS and SARS, were not considered a high risk for transmission through food. “However, when shopping, disinfect hands and trolley handles, and move quickly through the store, picking out items on your shopping list. Before unpacking the shopping, it is good practice to wash hands well with soap and water for 20 seconds, unpack shopping, dispose of or put bags away, then wash hands again well for 20 seconds,” Lucia adds. Visit anelichconsulting.co.za for more information.

2 WHICH FOODS MAY BE SAFELY REFROZEN AFTER DEFROSTING?

We’ve all done it – taken out a frozen item to defrost and later changed our minds, popping it back into the freezer and holding thumbs it is still safe. “Food that is thawed in the fridge is safe to refreeze without cooking. However, most importantly, any food that is left outside of the fridge for longer than two hours or for longer than one hour at temperatures above 32°C cannot be refrozen,” Lucia states.

3 IS FISH THAT SMELLS “FISHY” STILL SAFE TO COOK AND EAT?

The rule of thumb with fresh fish is that if it has a “fresh fish smell”, it can still be used. However, if the smell becomes unpleasant – such as a cabbage-like, ammonia, rubber or sweaty smell – then it is not advisable to use it. “Fresh fish has only about two to three days’ shelf-life at 4°C,” Lucia notes.

4 WHERE SHOULD FRESH EGGS BE STORED?

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