Start the New Year right with these food safety tips.
Let’s start with chicken.
The CDC says that chicken can be contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria and sometimes with Salmonella and Clostridium perfringens bacteria, all of which can make you very sick.
Don’t allow raw juices from chicken to get on your grocery shopping cart of other food. So please use a disposable bag to minimize cross contamination in your shopping cart and your refrigerator.
Wash hands but not chicken. Wash your hands before and after handling chicken but the CDC says not to wash raw chicken. The reason for this is that during washing, the contaminated juices of the chicken can spread in your sink, counter tops, utensils and even other food. And use common sense, never place other food on a surface that previously held raw chicken. Wash all items and surfaces with soapy water after preparing raw chicken before moving on to preparing anything else.
Cook chicken properly to a safe internal 165 degrees, and use a thermometer to be sure. Cook microwave meals with chicken to the same temperature. Also, the same practice should be used for meat packaging. Once you open a meat package, place your meat directly on the cutting board and throw the packaging away without it touching any other surface.
Lastly, refrigerate or freeze leftover chicken within 2 hours (or within 1 hour if you are outside and the temperature is higher than 90°F).
Don’t forget your dishtowel.
Change your dishtowel every two days at a minimum and if you use it to wipe high risk surfaces, change it immediately. Harmful bacteria can survive on dishtowels longer than you think. Washing it in a regular machine wash cycle should be enough to kill and germs that are on it.
Let’s move on to burgers.
There is a growing trend for rare burgers. The perception is that the burgers are more flavorful that way. While this may be the case, burgers not fully cooked run the same risk as under-cooked chicken.
Here is the thought process of why it may be safer to eat a rare steak but not a rare burger. Harmful bacteria live only on the surface of a steak and are killed off by cooking it on a high heat. A burger, on the other hand, is minced so the bacteria is spread to the inside as well as the outside of the patty. So in order to kill all the bacteria, it needs to be cooked well done and at a temperature of 165 degrees internally.
Finally, be sure to only use your meat marinade on the raw meat. Do not use it as a sauce to cook vegetables. If you would like to use it as a sauce for your cooked meat, bring it to a brief rolling boil to make sure you have killed off any possible bacteria.
The good news is by following the CDC’s safe food guidelines your chances of becoming sick from food is greatly reduced and it isn’t difficult to do. So stay safe and enjoy!