Saturday, November 10, 2018

Turkey, pie, stuffing, oh my!

Is everyone ready for cookies, pie, turkey, ham and stuffing? I know I am! My mouth is watering just thinking about all of my holiday favorites! What are some of yours?  It is such a magical time of year filled with laughter and creating memories with friends and loved ones, but uninvited guests can quickly ruin your plans. As we move into the holiday season it is important to keep food safety tips in mind to protect ourselves and loved ones from foodborne illness. Wouldn’t we all prefer to look back fondly with memories such as “Remember when Billy finally beat Uncle John at Monopoly last Thanksgiving?” instead of “Remember when we were all sick for days after Thanksgiving last year?”.

As you begin to plan your delicious menus keep in mind these 4 simple tips

This is important all year round, especially when preparing foods! Our hands carry a lot of germs that can contaminate the food that we touch and then serve to others. Wash your hands before you begin preparing food and every time they become dirty or after you have handled raw meat, poultry, fish, or eggs.  Even if you are not sick you can still contaminate food with other germs. Speaking of sick - keep anyone who has been or is sick out of the kitchen! 

When preparing foods in your kitchen, be sure to keep “hazardous” foods (raw meat, poultry, fish and eggs) separate from the other “non-hazardous” foods in the kitchen (fresh fruits and vegetables, desserts, cheese, breads, anything “ready-to-eat”). “Hazardous” foods can carry pathogens that cause the classic food poisoning symptoms. To prevent contamination be sure to thoroughly wash and sanitize any utensils, knives, counter tops, cutting boards or equipment that have come into contact with “hazardous” foods and their juices before working with the “non-hazardous” foods. 

In order to make the “hazardous” foods safe to eat we must kill the pathogens they might be carrying. Many pathogens found in our foods can be killed simply with thorough cooking. One of the best investments you can make in your kitchen is to purchase a food probe thermometer. This will take the guess work out of cooking. When cooking “hazardous” foods make sure that the INTERNAL temperature reaches:
  •  165°F - Poultry, stuffed meats and stuffing containing meat
  • 158°F – Ground Meats (beef, pork, veal, etc) 
  •  150°F – Pork and foods containing pork 
  • 145°F – Eggs and egg products 
  • 140°F – All other potentially hazardous foods 
  • 130°F – Rare roast beef and/or rare beef steaks

Refrigerate or freeze left overs within 2 hours of serving. This will help prevent the growth of new pathogens. Can you guess their favorite temperature for growth? You guessed it - room temperature or about 70°F.

We don’t have time to be sick during the holidays. By following these simple tips we can spend our time enjoying the festivities and each other’s company…and all that pie! Bon appetite!

Amanda Finckel
Public Health Sanitarian
Environmental Health & Safety Division