Food Safety Tips

Here are a few tips to make sure you and your family are safe from food-borne illness. A lot of this is just plain common sense-its not hard to keep your kitchen safe .

BurgerMake sure raw meat is kept separate from any other deli meat or other foods that aren’t going to be cooked. To store, keep them tightly wrapped and place them on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator or freezer.

Promptly wipe off any counter tops or cutting boards that have been in contact with raw meat with warm, soapy water. A mixture of 1 part chlorine bleach to 9 parts water will help disinfect counter tops and cutting boards.

Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, especially raw meat, poultry and fish. If you have a cut on your hands, wear rubber or plastic gloves. Wash gloved hands just as often as bare hands because the gloves can pick up bacteria. (However, when washing gloved hands, you don’t need to take off your gloves and wash your bare hands, too.)
Cook hamburger or any other ground meat to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.

Hot foods should be refrigerated as soon as possible within two hours after cooking. But don’t keep the food if it’s been standing out for more than two hours. Don’t taste test it, either. Even a small amount of contaminated food can cause illness.

Keep your refrigerator temperature below 41 degrees. An instant-read kitchen thermometer will cost you $10 at any Quicky Mart and could save you a visit to the doctor.

Your freezer should be kept at 0 degrees in order to properly stop the growth of bacteria. Yes, refrigeration and freezing only slows the growth of bacteria, so frozen food does go bad eventually, so put dates on frozen foods. Since some of you are bound to be wondering, my refrigerator passed, but one of my two freezers was 2 degrees too warm.

Thaw foods in the refrigerator or the microwave oven or put the package in a watertight plastic bag submerged in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Gradual defrosting overnight is best because it helps maintain quality. Don’t thaw raw meat on the counter top or in the sink without cold water; bacteria can multiply rapidly at room temperature.

Date leftovers so they can be used within a safe time. Generally, they remain safe when refrigerated for three to five days. If in doubt, throw it out. Never allow raw meat, poultry and fish to come in contact with other foods.

When using the microwave, rotate the dish several times to ensure even cooking. Follow recommended standing times. After the standing time is completed, check the dish in several spots with a meat thermometer to be sure the product has reached the proper temperature.

Don’t sample cake batter or cookie dough that contains raw eggs. Until it’s cooked. Eating raw eggs can give you salmonella enteritis, a nasty little illness that you definitely don’t want. Commercially prepared foods, such as cookie dough ice cream, are safe to eat because the eggs in them  are pasteurized to kill any bacteria.

Cooking Tips from Guest Chefs

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