Food-borne illnesses and recalls are often in the news. Each year, 48 million Americans get sick from eating contaminated food. While you cannot completely prevent food-borne illnesses from happening, you can reduce your risks by practicing good food safety at home.
Improperly stored, prepared, and defrosted food can promote the spread of harmful bacteria, which increases your risk of getting a food-borne illness and its accompanying traits of vomiting, diarrhea, and other flu-like symptoms. These symptoms can last from a few hours to a few days. Young children, older adults, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends you use four concepts to safely prepare foods: clean, separate, cook, and chill.
When preparing food, keep your hands and kitchen surfaces that come into contact with raw ingredients clean. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after handling food. Wash food preparation surfaces with hot, soapy water after making each food item. Be sure you thoroughly clean fruits and vegetables with water and a produce brush. You should not wash raw meat or poultry before cooking, as it increases the likelihood of harmful bacteria spreading to your countertops and sink.
Create separate storage and preparation areas for raw foods that you will be cooking and foods that you will eat raw. Use different cutting boards and utensils as you prepare each food. Do not put foods that are ready to eat on the same plate you used for raw foods or their juices.
Remember, food is not properly cooked until it reaches a safe internal temperature. This is the temperature that kills harmful bacteria. The only way to know raw meats and poultry are properly cooked is to use a meat thermometer. Cook pork products to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F, ground beef to 160 degrees F, and chicken and poultry to 165 degrees F. Properly cooked eggs will have firm yolks and whites. Do not eat any uncooked batter or dough as it could contain raw eggs.
If you have leftovers after a meal, you still need to take food safety precautions. Put leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours of preparation. Use an appliance thermometer periodically to make sure your refrigerator and freezer are cold enough to properly store food. For a refrigerator, that temperature is 40 degrees F. It is zero degrees F for the freezer. Eat leftovers within three to four days.
When thawing foods, do not set them out at room temperature as this allows for the rapid growth and spread of bacteria. Thaw foods in the refrigerator, under cold, running water, or in the microwave followed by immediate cooking. When reheating, make sure food is cooked to 165 degrees F, and sauces, soups and gravies reach a rolling boil. Do not eat leftovers that look or smell questionable.
More information on food safety is available at the Adair County Extension office.
Source: Annhall Norris, Extension Associate for Food Safety
AREA EXTENSION HOMEMAKERS ANNUAL MEETING
The Lake Cumberland Area Extension Homemakers Annual Meeting will be held on Thursday, May 5, in Taylor County. All Extension Homemakers are encouraged to attend; you may join Extension Homemakers by calling the County Extension Office. The theme is “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” with spring-themed activities sprinkled throughout the meeting’s agenda. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. CST/9:30 a.m. EST, followed by workshops, lunch, and the business meeting. The price to attend is $10, which is payable to the Adair County Extension Homemakers. Please RSVP by calling the Adair County Extension Office by May 1 at 270-384-2317.
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