Food & Safety for your family.
June 23, 2007 9:56am CST
You probably have lots of concerns about the foods you give to your child. Is it a nutritious meal? Will your child eat it? Is there too much fat? But one thing that may not cross your mind as you're slicing and dicing in the kitchen is food saefty. Why is food saefty so important? Proper food preparations are necessary to prevent your family from becoming sick from food-borne illnesses caused by bacteria such as E.coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria(which can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nauses, vomiting, and dehydration). Food saefty precautions include knowing how to select foods in the grocery store, how to cook them., and how to clean up afterward. So what can you do to make sure your kitchen and the foods you prepare are safe? Keep reading to find out. Buying Food The grocey store is your first stop on the way to food saefty. To ensure freshness, refrigerated items(such as meat, dairy, eggs and fish)should be put in your cart last. If your drive home is longer than 1 hour, you might consider putting items in a cooler to keep them fresh. When purchasing packed meat, poultry or fish, to be sure to check the expiration date on the lable. Even if the expiration date is still acceptable, don't but buy fish or meats that have any unusal odors or look strange. It's also important to check inside egg cartons - make sure the eggs, which should be grade A or AA, are clean and free from cracks. Don't buy: *fruit with broken skin(bacteria can enter through the opening in the skin and contaminate the fruit) *unpasteurized ciders or juices(they can contain harmful bacteria) *prestuffed turkeys or chickens Refrigerating and Freezing. Before you put the groceries away, check the temparature of your refrigerator and freezer. Your refrigerator should be set for 40 degrees Fahrenheit(5 degrees Celsius), and your freezer should be set to 0 degrees Fahrenheit(-18 degrees Celcius) or lower. These chilly temparatures will help keep any bacteria in your foods from multiplying. If your refrigerator doesn't have a thermostat, it is a good idea to invest in a thermometer for the fridge and freezer. Of course, refrigerated and frozen items should be put away first. Here are some quick tips to remember for foods that need to be kept cool: * Keep eggs in the original carton on self in your refrigerator(most refrigerator doors don't keep eggs cold enough). * Put meat, poultry and fish in separate plastic bags so that their juices don't get your other foods. * Freeze - or cook - raw meat, poultry or fish within 2 days. * Store raw ground meats in the freezer for maximum of 3 months. * Freeze cooked meats for a maximum of 3 months. * Remove stuffing from poultry after cooking and store it separately in the refrigerator. Preparing and Cooking. It's a good idea to follow these handling and cooking guidelines to prevent food-borne illnesses in your family: *Wash your hands with hot water and soap before preparing foods and handling raw meat, poultry, fish or egg products. *Keep raw meats and their juices away from other foods in the refrigerator and on countertops. *Use separate utensils for cooking and serving raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs(or wash the and utensils in hot, soapy water before using them to serve). *Never put cooked food on a dish that was holding raw meat, poultry or fish. *Thaw meat,poultry and fish in the refrigerator or microwave, never at room temparature. *Cook thawed meat, poultry and fish immediately. *Throw away any leftoveruncooked meat, poultry or fish marinades. *Don't allow raw eggs to sit at room temparature for more than 2 hours to reduce the risk of salmonella infection. *Thoroughly cook eggs. *Never serve foods that contain raw eggs, such as uncooked cookie dough, eggnog, mousse, and homemade ice cream. If you want to use these recipes, substitute pasteurized eggs(found in the grocery store's dairy case) for raw eggs. *Cook meat until the center is no longer pink and the juices run clear. *Cook crumbled ground beef or poultry until it's no longer pink. Use a meat thermometer to tell whether meats are cooked throughly.(Place the thermometer in the thickest portin of the meat and away from bones or fat.). Most thermometers indicate at which temparature the type of meat is safely cooked, or you can refer to these recomendations: *poultry:180-185 degrees fahrenheit(82 degrees Celcius) *pork:137 degrees Fahrenheit(58 degrees Celcius) *ground beef patties and loaves:160 degrees Fahrenheit(71 Degrees Celcius) *ground poultry pattiesand loaves:165 degrees Fahrenheit(74 degrees Celcius) *leftovers:-at atlest 165 degrees Fahrenheit(74 degrees Celcius). When cokking, broiling or grilling meats on the stove, turn them over at least once. In the microwave, cover all meats and do the following: * Turn patties over and rotate the dish halfway through cooking. * Rotate meatloaf dishes halfway through cooking(and let sit upto 7 minutes after cooking before eating - consult your owner's manual. *Stir ground meats once or twice. By taking some simple precautions, you can reduce the chance of food-borne illnesses in your family.