Today we backtrack a bit and then continue with preventing foodborne illness, the second and last part of this series.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million people suffer from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.
So how do you avoid becoming a part of those statistics? Follow USDA’s four easy steps to food safety this summer.
Clean: Make sure to always wash your hands and surfaces with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before cooking and after handling raw meat or poultry. If cooking outside or away from a kitchen, pack clean cloths and moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
Separate: When taking food off of the grill, use clean utensils and platters. Don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry.
Dennis note: When attending a barbecue at a friend’s house monitoring the cook is important. If the plate used to bring out the burgers/chicken/steaks remains at the cooking station for a few minutes, I will pick it up and say, “Let me get you a clean one to take the meat inside.” This task is completed so fast, the cook doesn’t have a chance to stop me.
Cook: Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat and poultry. Place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food.
Hamburgers, sausages and other ground meats should reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit. All poultry should reach a minimum temperature of 165 degrees, Whole cuts of pork, lamb, veal and beef should be cooked to 145 degrees as measured by a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat.
The meat should be allowed to rest for three minutes before eating. A rest time is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven or other heat source.
During the three minutes after meat is removed from the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys pathogens.
Also, fish should be cooked to 145 degrees. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside, and by using a food thermometer you can be sure items have reached a safe minimum internal temperature needed to destroy any harmful bacteria that may be present.
Chill: Place leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate or freeze immediately. Discard food that has been sitting out longer than two hours.
Dennis note: There is much more to food safety. We will cover other aspects of this important part of our lives in coming columns.