Whether it is a simple meal for two, or a large gathering with a buffet, food safety is a priority at any meal, and especially at the holidays. Nobody wants the gift of foodborne illness!
Are you the host for the holiday meal? Reduce your stress by starting a list now to plan the location, food and recipes, activities and games, and what your guests could bring. Put it in a timeline or on a calendar to stay on schedule.
Are you buying a fresh or frozen turkey? If you choose fresh, be sure to place an order with your grocer or butcher shop and pick it up 1-2 days before the meal. Frozen turkeys can be purchased any time and stored in the freezer. Pay attention to grocery sales to save some money.
Frozen turkeys are best thawed in the refrigerator or in cold water. In the refrigerator, plan on at least five days for a 20 pound turkey. In cold water, allow about 30 minutes per pound of turkey.
Do you only have one oven? Use a slow cooker for hot dishes. A table top roaster oven can be used like a regular oven for many items. Even electric pressure cookers can cook up some tasty dishes! Some items, such as dessert or bread can be made ahead and frozen.
When cooking the turkey, remember that 325 degrees F is the lowest oven temperature to safely cook turkey. Use a food thermometer to be sure it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
This summer, pre-cut melons were recalled due to Salmonella contamination. This included pre-cut cantaloupe, watermelon, and a fruit salad mix sold in grocery stores in nine states. While Salmonella is usually connected to meat, poultry, or eggs, it may seem unusual for melons. But, melons are not like many other fruits.
Most fruits are considered high acid, or low in acidity with a pH averaging between 3.0 and 4.0. Melons have a pH between 5.0 and 7.0. This makes them a low acid food. Salmonella thrives in a pH range of 4.1-9.0. So melons can support the growth of Salmonella. It can also grow in a temperature range of 43-115°F. Therefore, in this recall, if temperature abuse occurred at any point, Salmonella would grow.
Good handling practices are your best defense. Always scrub and wash melons before cutting them open. Store cut fruit in the refrigerator. Keep it separate from raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs. Use clean utensils to serve fresh melons. Wash your hands before and after handling melons or other produce. When buying pre-cut melons or other fresh produce, be sure they are cold and refrigerate promptly.
Join Chef Alli and our Nutrition, Food Safety, and Health Agent, Ashley Svaty in Osborne on April 24th at 6pm at the old high school gym. Chef Alli will teach how to plan and prepare harvest meals and Ashley will teach the group how to keep these meals safe when temperatures rise in the fields! Meal will be provided. Fee: $10/person RSVP is requested by Friday, April 13 by calling or stopping by the Osborne County Conservation District Office (1117 W. Hwy. 24), 785-346-2128, Ext. 3.
Did you know that one in six Americans could get sick from food poisoning this year alone? Keep your family safe this holiday season by following the 4 steps to safe food: Separate, Clean, Cook, and Chill.
Separate raw from ready to eat foods. Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods starting at the grocery store and continue through preparation. Prevent cross contamination by using separate cutting boards for raw meat and ready to eat foods.
Clean hands often. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before and after preparing food, after touching raw meat, raw eggs, or unwashed vegetables, and before eating or drinking.
Cook food to safe internal temperatures. ALWAYS use a food thermometer, do not judge doneness of food by color.
Cook beef, pork, lamb, steaks, and roasts to 145°F with 3-minute rest time.
Cook Fish to 145° F
Cook ground beef, pork, veal, lamb to 160° F
Cook all poultry to 165° F.
Reheat leftovers to 165° F
Chill leftovers within 2 hours. Bacteria grows rapidly at room temperature, do not let food sit out. When storing leftovers in the refrigerator, use shallow pans or containers to decrease cooling time. This prevents the food from spending too much time at unsafe temperatures (between 40 °F to 140 °F). Keep leftovers in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs if food is traveling home with guests. Eat leftovers within 4 days or store in your freezer.
Karen Blakeslee from the K-State Rapid Response Center publishes this newsletter each month and bases articles on questions received, current food safety issues, or timely information. The topics found in the current issue are found below and the entire November You Asked It! E-Newsletter can be found here.