Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Summertime Food Safe 101

Food safe handling practices are important year round, but people need to be especially careful during the barbecue season. Extra caution should be taken to cook food thoroughly, avoid cross contamination and keep foods out of the temperature danger zonebetween 40-140˚F (4-60˚C). 
Summertime is outdoor party time—when the backyard becomes the living room, dining room and sometimes even the kitchen! With our Victoria Day, May long weekend just days away, it is the first long weekend of summer activities on Denman and Hornby Islands. Denman Island hosts its 28th Annual Pottery Tour and many summer residents will come to open and air out their cabins for the season ahead. This is the perfect time to review and refresh food safe handling practices. 

Cooking meat and poultry to the proper temperature is one of the most important safety tips. Meat browns quickly on the outside, make sure the internal temperature is correct. Always use a meat thermometer when grilling or cooking. Poultry can be precooked in the oven and then placed immediately on the barbecue to add the desired grill marks; this will decrease the amount of time it is exposed to danger-zone temperatures. 
  • Whole chicken should be cooked to 180-185˚F (82-85˚C)
  • Chicken parts and turkey pieces should be cooked to 170˚F (77˚C)
  • Pork chops, ribs and ground meats should be cooked to 160˚F (70˚C) 
  • Beef roasts and steaks should be cooked as follows:                                           
    • medium rare at 145˚F (63˚C)  
    • medium at 160˚F (70˚C)
    • well done 170˚F (75˚C)
Do not ‘partially grill’ extra hamburgers to use later. Once you begin cooking hamburgers by any method, cook them until they are completely cooked through to assure that bacteria are destroyed. When marinating raw meat, fish or poultry; do so in the refrigerator—not on the counter. Don't reuse the marinade from raw meat unless you boil it for several minutes to destroy any bacteria from the raw meat.

When barbecuing, use 2 pair of tongs to avoid cross contamination—one for raw meat and one for cooked meat. Handle the cooked meat carefully. Probably one of the biggest mistakes people make at home is the cross-contamination of raw meat juices with cooked, ready to eat meat. Have a separate platter for the raw meat and another for the cooked meat.  

Cleaning and sanitizing are important at all times—make sure your hands are thoroughly washed before handling any food. Hands should be washed with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Clean, rinse and sanitize knives, cutting boards and other work surfaces in food handling areas before using them for something else. Use a mild bleach solution of 1 tsp. bleach to 3 cups water.

Proper refrigeration is also a concern during the warmer months. Fresh items and produce, such as mixed salads and cut cantaloupe should be left on ice, in coolers or in the fridge. For salads, go for vinaigrette over the mayonnaise, it holds up better in the heat. When you transport food, always use coolers with ice packs so items are not exposed to heat. Items left outside in the temperature danger zone, can cause rapid bacteria growth. If food is being stored in a cooler, pack the cooler with ice or freezer packs. Replenish the ice if it melts. Keep the lid closed as much as possible, and store the cooler in the shade away from birds and animals. Use a separate cooler for drinks so the one containing perishable food won’t be constantly opened and closed.

Finally, when the food is set out to eat, DON’T DAWDLE. Food should be eaten when fresh, the longer it sits; the greater chance there is for bacteria growth. Always keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold until eaten. Immediately after everyone has finished eating, store leftovers in separate, shallow covered containers in the fridge and eat within two days. Reheat leftovers to 165˚F (74˚C). 

Enjoy the summer with these additional steps to ensure your food remains safe.
Till next week, have a safe weekend and Bon Appetit!
Cruise Ship passing Denman and Hornby Islands, heading to Vancouver

Photo by Sally Rae

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