Safe Holiday Cooking Tips
Baking and cooking safely this holiday season is especially important considering recent food recalls. Here are some helpful hints to keep you and your family safe and healthy.
Fruits and Vegetables
· If there is damage or bruising, cut away these areas before preparing or eating
· Rinse produce before you peel it by gently rubbing under running water
· Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers
· Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel
· Remove the outermost leaves from lettuce or cabbage
Raw Dough and Batter
When mixing batter, it’s difficult to resist tasting the raw dough or allowing our children to lick the spoon. But eating raw batter or dough can be make you sick. Children can get sick from handling or eating raw dough used for crafts or play clay.
· Flour is a raw agricultural product, which means it hasn’t been treated to kill bacteria, like Escherichia coli (E. coli)
· Harmful germs can contaminate grain while it’s still in the field or at other steps as flour is produced. For example, if a cow poops in the field, bacteria from the animal waste could contaminate the grain, which is then harvested and milled into flour
· Eggs may contain salmonella bacteria, a common cause of food poisoning
· Salmonella can enter the egg before the shells are formed and from exposure to poultry droppings
· When using a recipe that calls for raw eggs, make sure the eggs are pasteurized
Don’t taste or eat any raw dough or batter. Don’t let children play with or eat raw dough, including dough for crafts.
Poultry: Chickens, Turkeys, Ducks, and Geese
· Do not wash raw poultry before cooking. This will only spread bacteria onto surrounding surfaces
· Don’t feed raw meat to pets. Germs like salmonella in raw pet food can make your pets sick. Your family also can get sick by handling the raw food or by taking care of your pet
Minimum Internal Cooking Temperatures:
· Pork, Veal, Beef, Lamb, Steaks, Roasts, Chops: 145 °F
· Fish: 145 °F
· Ground beef: 160 °F
· Eggs and egg dishes: 160 °F
· Turkey, Chicken, Duck, Goose: 165 °F
Because bacteria can multiply rapidly at room temperature, thawing foods on the counter is one of the riskiest things you can do. Thaw foods:
· In the refrigerator: on a plate or in a pan to catch the juices
· In cold water
· In the microwave: should be cooked immediately
· With cooking
Safe Cooking Basics:
Clean: First and foremost, wash your hands with soap and water before and after preparing food. Wash hands, utensils, and cutting boards with soap and water before and after contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
Separate: Use different cutting boards for meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetables. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs apart from foods that won’t be cooked.
Cook: Use a food thermometer. You can't tell if a food item is done by how it looks. Place it in the thickest part of the meat or dish.
Chill: Keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees or below to keep bacteria from growing. Chill leftovers and takeout foods within 2 hours.