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Last Updated: 09/28/11 01:41:01 PM

Safe Food Backgrounder
Safe Food Handling Practices grocery
At The Grocery Store
  • Pay attention to "sell by" and "use by" dates on perishable products. If the "sell by" date has expired, do not buy the product. The "use by" date applies to use at home after purchase. It's important to note that these dates refer to quality of food (taste, texture, smell, appearance) and are not a guarantee of an uncontaminated product, particularly after the original package seal is opened.
  • Be sure that packaging/storage is as it should be: refrigerated foods should be kept cold; frozen foods should be frozen solid; there should be no holes or tears in the packaging.
  • When possible, put raw poultry, meat or fish in separate plastic bags before setting in your cart with other unprotected foods. Occasionally, packaging on these products may allow leakage.
  • Select perishable food products, including meat, last before checking out, and place them in the coolest spot in your car for the trip home. If food will be held in the car for longer than 30 minutes, store it in a cooler immediately after purchase to keep it cold. homeStorage
Home Storage
  • Place perishable foods immediately into the refrigerator or freezer upon returning home from the grocery store.
  • Place meat, fish and poultry in the coldest part of the refrigerator (on a low shelf at the back). Use beef steaks, roasts and deli meats and poultry within three to four days. Ground meat, ground poultry and fish should be used within one to two days.
  • Place uncooked meat, fish and poultry products in separate plastic bags and set on a plate on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator so raw juices do not drip onto other foods.
  • Using a refrigerator thermometer, check the refrigerator's temperature to ensure that it is cooling at 35'F to 4O'F, and the freezer is at or below O'F.
  • Space items in the refrigerator and freezer so that air can circulate freely around them.
  • Keep the interior of the refrigerator/ freezer clean. Pack perishables in coolers when cleaning or defrosting your refrigerator/freezer. FreezeDefrost
Freezing and Defrosting
  • Place perishable foods immediately into the refrigerator or freezer upon returning home from the grocery store.
  • Place meat, fish and poultry in the coldest part of the refrigerator (on a low shelf at the back). Use beef steaks, roasts and deli meats and poultry within three to four days. Ground meat, ground poultry and fish should be used within one to two days.
  • Place uncooked meat, fish and poultry products in separate plastic bags and set on a plate on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator so raw juices do not drip onto other foods.
  • Using a refrigerator thermometer, check the refrigerator's temperature to ensure that it is cooling at 35'F to 4O'F, and the freezer is at or below O'F.
  • Space items in the refrigerator and freezer so that air can circulate freely around them.
  • Keep the interior of the refrigerator/ freezer clean. Pack perishables in coolers when cleaning or defrosting your refrigerator/freezer. FoodPrep
Food Preparation
  • Keep everything that touches food clean - hands, utensils, bowls, countertops. Wash hands with warm, soapy water prior to preparing any food, and after handling raw meat, poultry and fish. Use separate platters, cutting boards, trays and utensils for cooked and uncooked meat, poultry and fish.
  • Keep juices from raw meat, poultry and fish from coming into contact with other foods, cooked or raw. Always wash contact surfaces and utensils with warm, soapy water immediately after preparing these products.
  • When using a cutting board, it is best to use separate boards for each food type. Never use the same cutting board for raw meat or poultry that is used for cooked and ready-to-eat foods. Wash food preparation surfaces thoroughly with warm, soapy water and then sanitize the surface after each use. To sanitize cutting surfaces, wash with a solution of two to three teaspoons of household bleach in one quart of warm water. Rinse with plain, hot water.
  • Never eat raw seafood, meat, poultry, eggs (or foods containing raw eggs such as homemade salad dressing, mayonnaise, ice cream or cookie dough). Never drink unpasteurized milk or other unpasteurized dairy products.
  • Direct sneezes and coughs away from food; cover mouth and nose with tissue when sneezing or coughing; wash hands after sneezing or coughing.
  • Thoroughly wash all produce with clean, drinkable water; use a brush if necessary.
  • When marinating meat, seafood or poultry, use a covered, non-metallic container and place it in the refrigerator. Ingredients in marinades such as wine, vinegar and lemon juice are acidic and will cause a chemical reaction with some metals. When this happens, the metal will leach into the food being marinated.
  • Avoid mixing dark colored sauces (such as teriyaki, Worcestershire or soy sauces) in with ground meat or poultry as they make it more difficult to judge doneness. Instead, brush sauces on the cooked surface of the patty about midway through the cooking cycle. Be careful not to recontaminate fully cooked meat or poultry by adding sauce with a brush which was used on raw or undercooked foods.
    Do not use a marinade which has been in contact with raw meat, fish or poultry as a sauce for the cooked food without first bringing the marinade to a boil for at least one minute. cook
Cooking
  • Cook ground meats thoroughly, to a uniform internal temperature of 160'F, or until the center is no longer pink. Ground poultry should be cooked to at least 165'F. Juices in done ground meat and poultry will run clear.
  • Use a meat thermometer for roasts, thick steaks (over two inches thick) and poultry, placing it at the thickest portion of the meat, not touching bone or fat.
  • Cook roasts to 5'F below the following recommended internal temperatures for doneness of meats: medium rare (150'F), medium (16O'F) and well done (170'F). Roast temperatures rise approximately 5'F during standing time (allow 10 to 15 minutes). Poultry should be cooked to 170'F and pork to 160'F.
  • Avoid very low oven temperature roasting methods (below 300'F) and long or overnight cooking of meats, which may encourage bacterial growth before cooking is complete. Do not use brown paper bags for roasting - they may not be sanitary and are not recommended for use as cooking material.
  • Cook stuffing for turkey or chicken separately from the poultry instead of in the cavity of the bird.
    Don't interrupt cooking by partially cooking food and then finishing later. Partially cooked food may not reach a temperature sufficient to destroy bacteria and may even encourage bacterial growth.
  • When basting or applying a sauce during grilling or broiling, brush the sauce on cooked surfaces only. Be careful not to recontaminate fully cooked meat or poultry by adding sauce with a brush previously used on raw or undercooked foods. leftovers
Leftovers
  • Freeze or refrigerate leftovers immediately. For more rapid cooling, use small, shallow containers (less than two inches deep) to freeze and refrigerate leftovers Cut large portions into smaller portions to speed cooling time. Leftover meat, fish and poultry should be wrapped securely before refrigeration, eaten within three to four days and reheated to 160'F or until steaming hot at time of consumption.
  • Sauces and gravies should be reheated to a rolling boil for at least one minute before serving. away
Away-From-Home-Situations
  • Day Care - Make sure that day care center employees practice appropriate sanitation and food handling. Parents and other care providers should teach children to wash hands with warm, soapy water after going to the bathroom and before touching or eating food. It is critical for child care providers and parents to remember to wash hands with warm, soapy water after every diaper change or check.
  • Leisure/Picnic - Do not use your cooler to chill room temperature foods. Pack chilled foods (at or below 40'F) in a cooler with ice or ice packs. This is particularly important if you do not plan to eat for several hours. When finished serving cold foods, promptly return them to the cooler. If you are taking meat, poultry or fish to grill while picnicking, pack these items carefully to avoid leakage onto other foods. Take along moistened towelettes to wash up with after handling the uncooked meat, poultry or fish, or use a bottle filled with clean water and soap to wash hands and surfaces.
  • Restaurants/Fast-food Restaurants
    • Make sure meat, fish and poultry are cooked thoroughly. (See "Cooking" section).
    • Check to see that burgers are cooked until the center is no longer pink and the juices run clear.
    • At buffets and salad bars, make sure cold foods are cold (at or below 40'F) and hot foods are hot (at or above 140'F).
  • Additional Information - For additional information, refer to the "Consumer Guide to Safe Handling and Preparation of Ground Meat and Poultry" available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
 

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