Turkey Tips Countdown
Holiday events bring opportunities to enjoy seasonal food favorites. Continued here is the sixth and last set of tips for food-safe handling of holiday foods we prepare most often during this time of year.
Meal preparation follows a regular pattern, with steps that are familiar to our own situation and training. Each choice made along the process to eating makes a big difference in food safety practices.
It is easy to get distracted and skip a step, which could result in illness. By starting with our groceries in the car, let’s follow the food flow from “car to plate” to identify important steps to help make our holiday meals food safe.
Clean: Clean your hands, surfaces and cutting boards. After you carry your grocery sacks from the car to the kitchen counter, wash the kitchen surface, cutting boards and then your hands in that order. Now you are ready to handle the food. For a quick sanitizing solution after you wash the kitchen counter, mix 1 T. unscented bleach in one-gallon water. Spray the solution onto washed surfaces and cutting boards. Let stand a few minutes, then rinse and dry with clean paper towels.
Rinse fruits and vegetables: Use potable or drinking water to rinse produce just before eating or cooking. Scrub firm-skinned produce, such as apples and potatoes, with a clean produce brush. Blot dry with clean cloth or paper towel.
Separate: Keep raw meat and poultry apart from foods that won’t be cooked. These practices will prevent cross-contamination between foods planned to be eaten raw and those needing to be cooked first.
Cook: Use a thermometer to test the temperature of proteins. Don’t rely on color of meat, juice or firmness. Safe minimum internal temperatures are 145°F for beef, pork, veal and lamb; 160°F for ground meats; 165°F for poultry and leftovers; 160°F for eggs and egg dishes; and 145°F for finfish.
Chill: Bacteria love the temperature “danger zone” of 40°F to 140°F. Use a refrigerator thermometer to make sure it is at the correct temperature of 40°F or below. Chill leftovers or takeout foods within 2 hours. Source: fightback.org
Now the kitchen is clean and sanitized, and the groceries are properly stored. So it’s time to create or enjoy healthy food prepared safely. Let’s eat! Enjoy your meals with family and friends by practicing food-safe steps.
Julie Buck, EdD, RDN, is a registered dietitian, food safety and health educator employed at the University of Idaho Extension, Bingham County. She can be reached at (208)785-8060 or firstname.lastname@example.org.