Monday, July 24, 2017

If you are reading this, congratulations! You have made it through another long winter and are primed and ready for backyard BBQ season. 

Close your eyes for a moment and think of the best times at barbecues - when family and friends gather around great food and beautiful weather.  We at Jefferson County Public Health are as excited as you for summer and want to wish you the best – and safest – one possible! Let’s take a moment to review the essentials of safe food handling:

1.)    Hygienic practices:

This topic should go without saying, but one of the most important things you can do is to ensure each step of your food preparation is done in a hygienic way. This includes limiting bare hand contact with foods ready for consumption, proper handwashing whenever contamination may have occurred and restricting the use of a common towel to wipe hands and surfaces.  

2.)    Contaminated equipment:

A commonly overlooked issue is the use of contaminated equipment for ready-to-eat foods. If a piece of equipment or a surface becomes contaminated with raw meat, do not place ready-to-eat foods on that surface until it has been properly washed and sanitized. This also includes restricting the use of a marinade that may be contaminated with raw meat as a final dipping sauce.

3.)    Proper cooking temperatures:

Don’t forget to keep a probe thermometer handy to check the final cooking temperatures of your food. The chart below represents safe cooking temperatures that will ensure your food is safe to consume. Are you curious about how to make sure your thermometer is telling the truth? Simply place your thermometer in a glass of ice water that has mostly ice and only enough water to fill the air gaps in between the ice cubes. Your thermometer should read 32°F - if it does not, it’s time to get a new thermometer.

Safe Cooking Temperatures

4.)    Proper storage and holding temperatures:

Just as important as final cooking temperatures is safe storage and holding temperatures. Be honest with yourself - do you have a thermometer in your fridge? This low-cost device could be the difference between staying safe or getting sick with a foodborne illness. Refrigerated foods held at temperatures above 41°F for extended periods of time can allow the growth of the bacteria that make you sick. If you are going to be keeping foods out for an extended time, make sure to keep cold foods below 41°F with the use of an ice bath or keep foods above 135°F with the use of a crock pot or steam table.    

5.)    Verify your food source: 

Is that great priced steak you just bought off the shady van driving around the neighborhood really safe to consume? Did that meat go through proper USDA inspection programs? Had that meat been slaughtered in a safe and sanitary way? What temperature has that meat maintained during storage and transportation? Purchasing food from reputable sources will give you piece of mind that your food has been handled properly.

Always keep these 5 safe food handling tips in mind for a great (and healthy!) summer!!

No comments:

Post a Comment