Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tips On Food Handling

  • Avoid cross contamination.  Wash your hands every time before coming into contact with food.  Wash hands/utensils after handling raw meat, fish, or poultry.  
  • Wash your hands often.  Use soap and water to wash, and paper towels or clean cloth towels to dry your hands.  Research has proven that frequent hand washing is the most effective way to prevent food-borne illnesses.
  • Keep perishable foods refrigerated or frozen until they are used.  Thaw frozen items in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or a microwave (as part of the continuing cooking process).  Marinate food in the refrigerator.
  • Make sure the temperature in your refrigerator is below 40 degrees F.  Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator and check it often.  Adjust the thermostat to a cooler setting if necessary.
  • Examine foods and all date labeling.  Buy foods with the longest period to the expiration date.  Don't buy food items if the packaging is damaged.  Throw away foods that don’t look and smell fresh.  A change in the odor or appearance of foods is often a sign of spoilage.  Throw away eggs with cracked shells.
  • Be sure cutting boards and knives are thoroughly scrubbed and washed with soapy water after each use.  These items can easily transfer disease-causing bacteria from raw meats and poultry to vegetables, fruit, or cooked meat.  Use different cutting boards for raw and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Don’t use marinades that have come into contact with raw meat or poultry as dips or for basting.  If you want to use the marinade for these purposes, boil it first or prepare a separate portion for that use.
  • Store raw meat, poultry, and fish in the meat drawer of your refrigerator or in tightly sealed plastic bags to prevent juices from leaking onto other foods.  Thaw frozen meats, fish and poultry in a pan on the lowest shelf so that juices won't drip on other foods.
  • Cover ready-to-eat foods in the fridge to protect them from cross-contamination by raw meats or unclean surfaces.
  • Use effective and protective plastics for freezing foods.
  • Use a meat thermometer to be sure meats are thoroughly cooked, especially ground meats from combined sources, like hamburger.  Beef, lamb and pork should reach an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees F.  Juices should run clear and there should be no sign of pink inside the meat.  Poultry should reach an internal temperature of 170 (breasts) to 180 (whole birds and thighs) degrees F.  The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a safe cooking temperature chart on their website. (exit DHS)
  • Cook all seafood.  Avoid eating raw fish, raw clams, oysters, and mussels.  The US Food and Drug Administration recommends cooking seafood to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F for 15 seconds.
  • Cook eggs until the whites are firm and the yolks begin to harden.  Don’t eat foods that contain raw eggs such as cookie dough, egg dressings, eggnog, or homemade mayonnaise.  Pasteurized egg products are available that can be used safely to prepare these foods.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold until they are served.  To prevent illness hot foods should be held at 140 degrees F or higher and cold foods should be held at 40 degrees F or lower until they are served.
  • Cool foods rapidly before storage.  If you are preparing large quantities of food for later use, cool the food rapidly.  Some methods include: placing the container in an ice-water bath, dividing the food into several small containers before refrigerating, including ice as an ingredient, stirring with an ice wand, and providing greater air circulation around the product container.

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