Food Safety

Knowing what should and should not go into the baking pan can help prevent serious trouble. Each year thousands of people contract food poisoning as a result of improper food handling and preparation techniques. This doesn't happen just in restaurants - most cases of food poisoning occur at home. Changes in school curriculum that have eliminated or reduced home economics classes have resulted in new generations of consumers that haven't learned how to cook food safely. The following tips will help keep the food you and your family eat safe.

Keep your kitchen sanitary Clean counter tops, appliances and utensils with hot, soapy water or an antibacterial cleaner.

Eating raw cookie dough Are you a cookie dough lover? If so, and you eat raw cookie dough prepared at home, you risk becoming ill from a food borne illness, particularly salmonella, which could come from the eggs. If you insist on eating raw cookie dough, be smart. Only use clean eggs that do not contain any cracks or breaks.

Preparing raw meat or poultry Prepare raw meat or poultry on plastic cutting boards, which are easier to clean than wood cutting boards. After handling raw meat or poultry, be sure to clean everything that came into contact with the meat and/or juice with hot, soapy water, including counter tops, stove tops, etc. If you touched something with your hands while working with the meat, such as a door handle, be sure to clean that also. It's a good idea to clean everything with a mild chlorine bleach and water solution to assure all bacteria are killed.

Cooking meat to proper internal temperatures Consult a cookbook for the temperatures and use a meat thermometer. Always cook meat to the well-done stage. Meat that is red or pink could contain organisms that might result in food poisoning.

Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold Hot foods should be kept about 140°F; cold foods should be kept below 40°F. Do not let any food, either hot or cold, stand at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

Foods at risk Be especially careful when preparing or serving foods containing meat, milk, eggs, seafood and poultry, as they are more susceptible to food-borne illness. Never eat raw or very rare meat.

Thawing meat Do not thaw meat by leaving it out on the counter top. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight or in the microwave oven.

Cleaning Fruits & Veggies Always thoroughly wash fresh fruits and vegetables prior to eating.