Over the course of the various community quarantines, many people turned to starting micro businesses from home. In fact, your social media feed may still be teeming with posts from family and friends who are selling everything from ready-to-eat meals to frozen snacks.

Of course, starting a home-based food business is relatively easy. Making sure that your business operates with food safety in mind, on the other hand, can be a little more difficult for most people. This is especially true if you have no background in food preparation or in a commercial kitchen.

Given the current situation with the pandemic, practicing proper food safety is vital to the success of any food business. After all, it only takes one person to say they got sick from eating your food to sink your business. With that in mind, you should make it a point to practice these food safety tips every time you get to work in the kitchen:

Keep Cooked Food and Raw Food Far Away from Each Other

It’s no secret that raw food can harbor a variety of illness-causing bacteria. Placing raw ingredients and cooked food next to each other, even if they are not physically touching, can easily lead to cross contamination. Don’t forget that bacteria multiplies at a rapid pace, doubling in number every four to twenty minutes. With enough time, bacteria may be able to multiply from the raw food over to the cooked food. Simply put, always keep raw and cooked food far away from each other—and definitely never lay cooked food on a cutting board or use a knife that has touched raw food.

Stay Away from Food if You’re Sick

Although it is true that most bacteria is killed off if a dish is cooked properly and at the right temperature, that fact becomes a moot point if the dish requires further handling. This is a real and common risk when someone sick prepares and handles food. Even if you’re only suffering from “the sniffles”, it’s best to play it safe and avoid preparing food.

Take Care When Rinsing Raw Meat

There has always been a debate on whether you should rinse raw meat under the sink or not. If you prefer to rinse raw meat, make sure you do so carefully. It’s easy to underestimate the water pressure from the faucet, which causes water to splash on nearby surfaces. This means that any bacteria that was present on the surface of the raw meat could have potentially been carried by the water onto surrounding surfaces, increasing the likelihood of cross contamination. If you plan to rinse your meats, make sure you don’t have the faucet on full blast. If ever water does splash onto nearby surfaces, make sure you thoroughly disinfect those surfaces before you continue cooking.

Know the Temperature Danger Zone

Bacteria tend to grow much faster under certain temperatures. In most cases, bacteria multiply the fastest when allowed to sit undisturbed in temperatures between 4-60℃. When working with cold dishes, make sure you store them in a place below 4℃. On the other hand, hot dishes should be kept in a place that is above 140℃. If you accidentally leave food out (cooked or raw) at room temperature for 2 hours or more, it’s best to throw it out as there is a good chance that it has been contaminated by bacteria.