To prevent foodborne illness, food safety must be taken seriously. With recalls of food items such as ground beef, peanut butter and spinach, it can seem that all of our food is at risk of being unsafe. Here are some food safety guidelines.
Make sure to wash your hands before and after handling food. Wash hands with hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds and dry your hands completely. Whenever you use something to prepare food – such as a knife or cutting board – be sure to wash it thoroughly by hand or in the dishwasher after using. Before and after preparing foods such as raw meat, spray down the counter or other prep area, knives and cutting boards (anything that comes into contact with raw meats) with a disinfecting spray or a spray of 1 tablespoon liquid bleach to 1 gallon water.
Keep raw meat, poultry, etc. separate from other foods. When you purchase raw meats from the store, keep them wrapped in a separate bag and ask the person at the checkout to bag meat separately. At home, designate a meat drawer and keep all raw meats in there. Keep them wrapped in a separate bag to prevent any juices from leaking out of the meat’s wrapper.
When cooking, be sure not to let the raw meat come into contact with anything that is not going to be cooked. It’s a wise idea to have a different cutting board for meats to help cut down on the risk of cross contamination. Never use the same plate for raw and cooked meat. Anything that has touched raw meat should be disinfected and washed before further use.
- Beef, veal, and lamb steaks, roasts, and chops: cook to 145°F
- All cuts of pork: 160°F
- Ground beef, veal and lamb: 160°F
- All poultry should reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F.
When serving, be sure to keep hot foods hot (at 140°F or hotter) and cold foods cold (at 40°F or colder). The danger zone (40°F – 140°F) is where bacteria thrive and can cause foodborne illness.
Soon after purchase, it is essential that any perishable foods be put into the refrigerator or freezer to get them out of the danger zone. Anything that is frozen and needs to be thawed should be done so safely. It is best to put frozen items into the fridge to thaw or to submerge in cold water, which is changed every 30 minutes, to ensure that the food remains cold while thawing. Any thawed food should not be refrozen.
You can visit the USDA’s website for more information on keeping food safe. Here’s to happy, healthy and safe eating!