We all want our food to be safe. The good news is that America's food supply is one of the safest in the world, however, you play a vital role in ensuring the safety of food once it gets to you. Follow the simple steps below, the 3C's, and you can keep the food you eat safe.
•Keep it Clean
•Keep it Cold
•Cook it Properly
2Keep it Clean:
Keep everything that touches food clean
•Wash your hands with hot soapy water for at least 20 seconds before preparing food.
•Keep raw meat from coming into contact with other foods during preparation. Wash your hands and all utensils and surfaces with hot soapy water after contact with raw meat.
•Never chop fresh vegetables or salad ingredients on a cutting board that was used for raw meat without properly cleaning it first. If possible, use a separate cutting board for the sole preparation of raw meat, poultry and fish.
•Carefully wash cutting boards and knives with hot soapy water and then sanitize with a solution of household bleach and water. Some cutting boards can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
3Keep it Cold
As a general rule, keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot
•Make grocery shopping the last stop on your list of errands. Pick up meat and refrigerated items last during your shopping trip.
•Store properly wrapped meat in the meat compartment or the coldest part of your refrigerator. You may want to place meat in a plastic bag to prevent possible leakage.
•Thaw meat in the refrigerator or microwave (at reduced power setting). Do NOT thaw meat on the kitchen counter.
•Do not wait for leftovers to cool down. Store them in small, shallow, covered containers within two hours of cooking.
Keep the refrigerator setting at 35°F to 40°F and the freezer at 0°F or below. Use a refrigerator thermometer for accuracy.
Proper storage and refrigeration of both raw and cooked beef is important for quality and safety reasons. Follow these recommended storage guidelines:
Steaks/Roasts: can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days/freezer 6-12 months.
Ground Beef: can be stored in the refrigerator 1-2 days/freezer 3-4 months.
Cooked beef (leftovers): can be stored in refrigerator 3-4 days/freezer 2-3 months.
Beef can be frozen in its original, transparent packaging for up to two weeks. For longer storage, prevent freezer burn by re-wrapping beef in moisture-proof, air-tight wrapping materials such as heavy-duty aluminum foil, freezer paper or plastic freezer bags. Label and date all packages.
4Cook It Properly
Use an instant-read thermometer to verify cooking temperatures.
Certain bacteria that may be present in food, such as E. coli, are eliminated by cooking foods properly. Heat kills the E.coli bacteria. Follow these cooking guidelines to keep food safe:
•Ground Beef - Cook to 160°F internal temperature. Cook ground beef until there is no pink and the juices run clear.
•Steaks and roasts
- 145°F internal temperature (medium rare)
- 160°F internal temperature (medium)
- 170°F internal temperature (well done)
•See our Meat Doneness Chart for more details.
•Since bacteria may be found on the outside of steaks you will eliminate any bacteria that might be present by heating to these internal temperatures. Ground beef, however, must be cooked more thoroughly.
•Reheat carry-out meals and leftovers to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F and stir to cook evenly.
•When basting grilled meats, brush sauce on cooked surfaces, rather than on raw meat. Be careful not to contaminate fully cooked meats by reusing leftover marinade or adding sauce with a brush previously used on raw meats. Bring marinades to a rolling boil for one minute for safe use on cooked meats.
•Stir, rotate and cover foods when microwaving to ensure even cooking. Check temperature with an instant-read thermometer in at least three spots, and follow recommended standing times outside the microwave so food completes cooking.
5Safe Shopping for Chicken & Poultry
During distribution to retail stores, fresh chicken is kept cold in order to extend its shelf life as well as to prevent bacteria growth. Packages of chicken should feel cold to the touch, and should be among the last items you select before checking out.
Packages of chicken should be wrapped in plastic bags to prevent leakage onto other items in your grocery cart.
Once you're home, you should immediately place your chicken in a refrigerator that maintains a temperature of 40°F or colder, and use it within 2 days. Otherwise, it should be frozen at 0°F.
6Safe Handling of Chicken & Poultry
Just like meat, fish or any animal-based food product, raw or undercooked chicken carry certain bacteria. These bacteria can cause illness in large numbers.
Therefore, to avoid illness we need to limit bacteria's ability to multiply, or kill them altogether. Limiting their ability to multiply requires making sure that food products are not left at room temperatures — or specifically, temperatures between 40°F and 140°F — for more than an hour.
And remember, freezing doesn't kill bacteria, either — it just makes them cold. The only way to kill food-borne pathogens is by thoroughly cooking the food.
Another concern with respect to working with uncooked poultry is cross-contamination. Cross-contamination can happen when raw poultry — or even just its juices — somehow come into contact with any other food products but especially ones that are already cooked or ones that will be eaten raw, such as salad vegetables or greens.
An example of how this can happen is if a cook were to cut raw chicken on a cutting board and then later slice fresh tomatoes on the same board without washing it first.
7Approximate Chicken Cooking Times
The following table gives approximate cooking times for different chicken types and cooking methods: