NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County

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Keeping Food & Family Safe

Keeping Food & Family Safe

An estimated 6.5 to 33 million people suffer from foodborne illness each year in the United States – and many do not know it!  Most cases of food-borne illness are unreported as the discomfort is often attributed to 24–hour flu, which has similar symptoms.

Whether you attribute that unusual queasiness to the flu or foodborne illness, proper food care and storage, sanitary conditions during preparation, and cooking to the recommended temperature will eliminate the possibility of foodborne illness. During those upcoming holiday meals, include food safety by:

- At the store, keep packages of raw meat, raw poultry, and raw fish separate from other foods, particularly foods eaten raw, such as fruit.  Use plastic bags to keep raw foods from dripping on other foods.  At home, continue to keep raw foods separate from other foods.  Use plates, plastic bags or covered containers to keep meat and poultry juices from dripping on other foods or on refrigerator surfaces.

Use frig and freezer thermometers to assure that refrigerator temperature is between 32°F and 40°F. Refrigerator freezer compartments should register about 0°F.

When ready to prepare your holiday feasts, start with scrub hands with soap and comfortably warm water for 20 seconds and rinse with clean water before beginning.  Wash again after food preparation and after handling raw meat, raw poultry, raw fish, and raw eggs; touching animals; blowing your nose; using the bathroom, or changing diapers.

Wash hands, counter, equipment, cutting utensils, and boards after handling raw meat or raw poultry. For an additional measure of cleanliness, sanitize cutting boards and utensils with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach and 1 quart of warm water before using board and utensils on another food.

Your special recipes may be tasty and tempting but do not taste raw or partially cooked meat, poultry, eggs, fish, or shellfish, or foods with raw ingredients (including raw cookie dough).

Do not reuse marinade, breading or other coating mixes used to prepare meats and vegetables.

Set the oven temp at a minimum of 325 for roasting meats and poultry.  Use a meat thermometer to judge safe internal temperature of meat and poultry: 160°F or above for meat, 180°F or above for poultry. Check temperature periodically rather than leaving the thermometer in the meat. The thermometer acts as a cooking nail and will almost always register higher right around the thermometer when it is left in place. Do not place thermometer near a bone, near the edge of the pan, or in fat when checking the temperature.

If there are any delicious leftovers, refrigerate or freeze cooked foods in small, covered, shallow containers (no more than 3 inches deep) within two hours after cooking. Leave 1-inch airspace around containers for quick chilling.

When ready to reheat leftovers, bring sauces, soups, gravies, and “wet” foods to a rolling boil; all others should be heated to 165°F.  Date packages of refrigerated leftovers and use within one to two days for foods such as fish, poultry, and meat, and three days for casseroles and cooked vegetables.

. When in doubt, throw it out. Discard outdated, unsafe, or questionable leftovers in garbage disposal or in tightly wrapped packages that cannot be consumed by people or animals. The possibility of foodborne illness is never worth the cost of replacing it.

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