September 24, 2018

USDA Offers Food Safety Tips for Fourth of July Celebrations

The USDA is offering food safety tips for Americans celebrating Independence Day. Salmonella infections can happen if you serve unsafe food that is not handled or prepared correctly.

American Flag FPBFirst, make sure you separate raw meat products from ready to eat raw foods in your shopping cart and on the way home. Put raw meat into bags and containers separate from produce, snack foods, and breads. Keep them separate in the fridge and as you prepare the food too. Always cook hamburgers to 160°F as measured by a food thermometer. Wash your hands before preparing food and often while working in the kitchen. And keep food cool; always refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours at room temperature; one hour if the ambient air temperature is above 90°F.

The only way of ensuring doneness of meats and especially hamburger is to use a food thermometer. Cooking to color or checking the color of juices are not reliable ways of ascertaining doneness.

Keep raw meats away from foods that are not cooked before they are eaten as you work in the kitchen. Cross-contamination can ruin any recipe. Always wash cutting boards, cabinet handles, countertops, and utensils that you touch with hands after handling raw meat.

A recent FSIS study asked 80 consumers to prepare a meat including a fruit salad and a meat dish. The meat was inoculated with L. casei, a harmless bacterium found in yogurt, to test food safety preparation. Half of the participants in the study heard messages on food safety and safe food preparation and the other half did not. Even after these lessons, 90% of fruit salads prepared during the study were contaminated with the target bacteria. The major source of contamination was kitchen towels. Other sources of contamination included the sink, refrigerator, oven, and trash cabinet handles.

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