Holiday Food Safety
The upcoming holidays can bring joy, but also lot of anxiety, especially if someone gets sick. Knowing how to handle, prepare and store foods like poultry and leftovers can reduce the chance of your holiday becoming one you’ll never forget.
Remember when you buy a turkey, it is always a good idea to purchase a dial meat thermometer at the same time. They are an inexpensive way to make sure your food has been cooked to the proper temperature and doneness.
Clean:Wash hands and food-contact surfaces often. Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, knives, sponges, and counter tops. Separate:Don’t cross-contaminate–don’t let bacteria spread from one food product to another. This is especially true for raw meat, poultry and seafood. Keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods. A good rule of thumbs is to use a separate cutting board for meats and vegetables. All surfaces that have been exposed to uncooked meat must be thoroughly cleaned with a disinfecting solution. Cook:Everybody loves a juicy turkey, but undercooking food because you are afraid of it becoming too dry is a recipe for disaster. Food can be well done and juicy at the same time. Using a dial thermometer to ensure proper food temperature will prevent you from overcooking and undercooking meals. Many times pop-up thermometers that come with whole, raw turkeys are inaccurate. Foods are properly cooked when they are heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Insert dial thermometers deep within the meaty part of the turkey, check both the thigh muscle and the breast muscle, making sure not to pass the tip of the thermometer through to empty cavities or simmering pan juices. Remember that every time you open the oven door, oven temperatures can drop significantly and add up to half an hour to cooking times. Relying on time for doneness is always a bad idea. Don’t guess. Know your meal is prepared right by cooking to the proper temperature and doneness. It will be better tasting and better for you.
Rest: Food hot from the oven will beveryhot. In fact, the temperature of a fresh from the oven Turkey can rise by almost ten degrees. Ten minutes is the maximum waiting time to ensure foods are hot and safe. Always remember hot foods are dangerous and can easily burn. Always use caution when handling hot foods and serve promptly. Chill:Refrigerate promptly. Refrigerate foods quickly keeps most harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. Refrigerators should be set at 40 F and the freezer at 0 F. Leaving food lying around is never a good idea. It may be tempting to take that after turkey nap, but food sitting out for long times can provide the perfect environment from bacteria growth that causes foodborne illness. Always clean up cooking surfaces quickly and place leftovers in the fridge soon after finishing your meal.
Remember: Who you are serving. Family members who are elderly, young, have had transplants, or are immune compromised are more susceptible to the dangers of eating improperly cooked food.