Food Safety isn’t the most exciting topic, nonetheless an important one and worth mentioning with the holidays just around the corner. Most of us prepare at least one or two dishes for holiday gatherings and no one wants to be responsible for making someone sick with food poisoning. Surprisingly, it isn’t that difficult to do. 1 in 6 Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year. Food-borne illnesses are the cause of 128,000 hospital visits annually.

Here are a few tips for getting through holiday feasts sans consequences of poor food safety:

Wash hands frequently Always wash your hands with soap and warm water after using the restroom, blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing, changing a diaper, petting or feeding animals, after handling raw meats, seafood, eggs or garbage. Use a clean towel to dry your hands and change dish and bathroom towels often, as they are hot spots for bacteria. Use separate cutting boards for raw and cooked foods Prevent cross-contamination by having a designated chopping board for raw meats only. Use separate plates and utensils for cooked and raw foods as well. Contrary to popular belief, washing meat and poultry before preparing is not advised. Proper refrigeration and cooking will diminish lurking bacteria but, spreading invisible germs all over your sink and counter is risky. Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood away from produce and ready-to-eat foods This goes for your shopping cart as well as your refrigerator! Think raw chicken juice on your pre-washed grapes. Yikes! Use a food thermometer There’s only one way to be certain your casserole has been cooked to the minimum temperature to kill bacteria that can make you sick. Guessing could result in undercooked chicken thighs or dry, rubbery pot roast. Use the chart below as your everyday guide to ensure your hard work in the kitchen is safely cooked, not overcooked. Don’t ignore leftovers! Re-heating temperatures are also important! Keep food out of the temperature danger zone If food will be sitting out for a significant amount of time, use containers of ice beneath cold food dishes to keep the temperature at or below 41°. Place hot foods in chafing dishes or a slow cooker to keep the temperature at or above 140°. Whether cooking or catching up with family, don’t forget to refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours. If your outdoors in the heat, pack up foods in a cooler within 1 hour. Bacteria allowed to sit between 41° and 140° doubles in number every 30 minutes. Get more information on storage safety at www.foodsafety.gov

Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Charts

Food

Type

Internal Temperature (°F)

Ground meat and meat mixtures

Beef, pork, veal, lamb

160

Turkey, chicken

165

Fresh beef, veal, lamb

Steaks, roasts, chops Rest time: 3 minutes

145

Poultry

All Poultry (breasts, whole bird, legs, thighs, wings, ground poultry, giblets, and stuffing)

165

Pork and ham

Fresh pork, including fresh ham Rest time: 3 minutes

145

Precooked ham (to reheat) Note: Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140°F

165

Eggs and egg dishes

Eggs

Cook until yolk and white are firm

Egg dishes (such as frittata, quiche)

160

Leftovers and casseroles

Leftovers and casseroles

165

Seafood

Fish with fins

145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork

Shrimp, lobster, crab, and scallops

Cook until flesh is pearly or white, and opaque

Clams, oysters, mussels

Cook until shells open during cooking

Jo Jo
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