Did you know that 128,000 Americans are hospitalized for food poisoning each year … or that as we age, we are at greater risk of such diseases?
Age-related changes in the gastrointestinal tract, chronic underlying diseases (diabetes, cancer, etc.), changes in organ function (ie liver and kidneys) and medication-related side effects lead to increased caution in food preparation in every season. However, food poisoning occurs more frequently in the summer months when bacteria multiply faster and many people prepare food outdoors, which makes it difficult to handle food safely.
The good news? The USDA's four-tier food safety plan ̵
Cleaning : Clean surfaces, utensils and hands with soap and warm water. Wash your hands properly for 20 seconds and focus on scrubbing your palms between your fingers and fingertips. If you are not eating at home, determine if drinking water (safe drinking water) is available. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning, or pack clean, wet, disposable washcloths, wet towels, and paper towels to clean hands and surfaces.
Separate : Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from ready-to-eat foods, fruits and vegetables. Raw meat juices can contain bacteria that can now contaminate ready-to-eat foods. When using a cooler, wrap raw meat and poultry safely and separately to keep the juices away from other foods in the cooler.
Cooking : Cook food to a safe interior temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. You cannot use color alone as an indicator of the degree of cooking. Always take a food thermometer with you to ensure that meat and poultry are safe to eat.
- Cook raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, cutlets and roasts at 145 ° F. For safety and quality reasons, leave the meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or eating it.
- Cook raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal at 160 ° F.
- Cook raw poultry at 165 ° F.
- Heat cooked food to 165 ° F.
Caution : Cook meat and poultry completely at the barbecue area . By partially cooking food in advance, bacteria can survive and multiply to such an extent that subsequent cooking can no longer destroy them.
Chill : If you handle food outdoors in warm months, keep perishable foods like lunch, cooked meat, chicken and potato or pasta salads in an insulated cooler that holds several centimeters of ice, ice packs, or containers is filled with frozen water. Keep the cooler cold by refilling the ice as soon as it starts to melt. When you're on the road, keep the radiator in the coolest part of the car. Chill food within two hours of cooking or within an hour of cooking if the temperature is 90 ° F or higher in summer.
If you have any questions about food safety, you can call the USDA hotline for meat and poultry at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or live with a food safety specialist in chat in English or Spanish at AskKaren.gov available from 10am to 6pm ET, Monday through Friday. Ask Karen also provides 24/7 automated food safety information.
Bio: Adam Ghering is a public affairs specialist, USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.
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