Around the holidays, it’s common for many of us to do a lot of cooking and have leftovers in our refrigerators. But there is danger in not knowing if our food is safe for consumption. According to FoodSafety.gov, 1 in 6 Americans will come down with food poisoning, which can lead to hospitalizations or long-term health problems. Fortunately, there are four simple steps to food safety for before, during and after making a meal.
- Clean. Clean your counters, wash your hands, and make sure all utensils are clean. Be sure that any fruit and vegetables have also been appropriately washed. DO NOT rinse/wash raw meats or seafood.
- Separate. Change out cutting boards and utensils, and wash your hands, when switching between preparing produce or meats/seafood products. Do not store raw foods with cooked foods.
- Cook. Most people don’t eat raw meat or eggs, but simply cooking is not always enough. It’s important to ensure that your foods reach the proper internal temperature, are maintain as safe temperature, before they are consumed. This can be checked using a food thermometer.
- Chill. Perishables should be refrigerated within 2 hours if not kept at warmer, safe temperature of at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (after reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit). Some foods should be refrigerated in one hour depending on the atmosphere (think about cold chicken salad in the summer). Shallow containers are best as they cool more quickly. Foods that are not going to be consumed within a few days should be frozen as soon as possible.
Below are two great resources for judging leftover foods. Of course, if ever in doubt, it’s safest to throw it out!
By type of food: https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep-food-safe/food-safety-by-type-food
Android/Apple Device App Information : https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep-food-safe/foodkeeper-app
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