Cooking Mistakes That Can Make You Sick
Family reunions and Memorial Day picnics are right around the corner and it got me thinking about food safety. Thankfully, I haven’t found anything in my home that could make me sick, but I did find that it’s not just the food that can cause illness. It could also be the way we handle our food that can cause problems.
When you hear of a product or food recall, do you check your fridge, drawers, pantry and cupboards? I never did, but after reading that a study done by Rutgers University in 2008, almost half of us don’t check our refrigerators and cupboards when we hear about a recall and that can lead to serious food poisoning. If you aren’t sure who’s recalling what these days, you can see an up to date list by going to Recalls.gov.
What's the temperature in your refrigerator? I truthfully have no idea and that cold lead to illness. Experts say that the safest temperature for refrigerators is around 40 degrees, but, it’s likely that the temp could creep up over the 40 degree mark, (especially in the summer) even if you have it at the factory recommended setting. The best idea is to buy a thermometer and keep an eye on it. The food you keep on the door is also the most vulnerable. For more information on how to properly stock your fridge, click HERE.
Where do you defrost your food? I try and remember to take whatever out of the freezer that we're having the next night the night before and stick it in the refrigerator. If you’re going to take some chicken or beef out of the freezer to thaw while you’re at work, don’t set it on the counter. Two hours at room temperature is the max because after that point, bacteria starts multiplying. Fast. The best suggestion is to stick it in the fridge and if it’s not totally thawed out, defrost it in the microwave before you throw it on the grill.
How many cutting boards do you have? Even if you wash your one cutting board after chopping meat or fish, bacteria can still be left behind; especially if you have a cutting board made out of plastic or wood. Glass cutting boards are ideal, but it is still suggested that you have one cutting board for meat and another for fruits and vegetables and keep them separate. We got a cool set of color coated cutting boards for our wedding. There are four plastic cutting boards: one for cooked foods, one for raw meat, one for seafood and one for veggies. I use each one for the corresponding foods, so there's never a question of what I cut on it last.
Do you have a good meat thermometer? I bought a digital read out meat thermometer and I love it! The only way to know if your meat is cooked to a safe temperature is to buy a meat thermometer. The minimum internal temperature for beef is 160 degrees. For fish and poultry it’s 165 degrees. Foodies say the way to get an accurate temperature is to insert the thermometer into the center of the meat away from the heat source.
Do you love cold pizza? Me, too! This one killed me because I am a huge fan of cold pizza, but according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, all leftovers that were once hot should be reheated again before you eat it. Even pizza. It’s best to reheat everything to a minimum 165 degrees to kill any bacteria.