Granite Girl – Life In The Cloud: Six Cooking Mistakes That Could Make You Sick
Family reunions and Labor Day picnics are right around the corner and with the recent recall of millions of pounds of ground turkey; it got me thinking about food safety. Thankfully, I haven’t found anything in my home that could make me sick, but I did find that it’s not just the food that can cause illness. It could also be the way we handle our food that can cause problems.
According to a study done by Rutgers University in 2008, almost half of us don’t check our refrigerators and cupboards when we hear about a recall. I know I’m guilty of this, but I remembered I had just purchased some ground turkey the night before the recent recall was issued, so I immediately went to the freezer to investigate. My turkey was safe, but if you aren’t sure who’s recalling what these days, you can see an up to date list by going to Recalls.gov.
Experts say that the safest temperature for refrigerators is around 40 degrees, but with all of the hot weather we’ve been having around here lately, it’s likely that the temp could creep up over the 40 degree mark, even if you have it at the factory recommended setting. The best idea is to buy a thermometer and keep an eye on it. The food you keep on the door is also the most vulnerable.
If you’re going to take some chicken or beef out of the freezer to thaw while you’re at work, don’t set it on the counter. Two hours at room temperature is the max because after that point, bacteria starts multiplying. Fast. The best suggestion is to stick it in the fridge and if it’s not totally thawed out, defrost it in the microwave before you throw it on the grill.
Even if you wash your cutting board after chopping meat or fish, bacteria can still be left behind especially if you have a cutting board made out of plastic or wood. Glass cutting boards are ideal, but it is still suggested that you have one cutting board for meat and another for fruits and vegetables and keep them separate. It’s also a good idea to use a separate plate for everything. So, in other words, don’t place your cooked chicken breasts on the same plate you used to take them out to the grill. Even if you rinse the plate off, you can still leave harmful bacteria behind, so it’s always best to use a clean plate.
The only way to know if your meat is cooked to a safe temperature is to buy a meat thermometer. The minimum internal temperature for beef is 160 degrees. For fish and poultry it’s 165 degrees. Foodies say the way to get an accurate temperature is to insert the thermometer into the center of the meat away from the heat source.
This one killed me because I am a huge fan of cold pizza, but according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, all leftovers that were once hot should be reheated again before you eat it. Even pizza. It’s best to reheat everything to a minimum 165 degrees to kill any bacteria.