WASHINGTON, DC — Regardless of the time of year, it's always important to ensure the food you prepare is safe and won't be remembered for the wrong reason — food poisoning.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service offers the following food safety tips.
- Clean your hands for 20 seconds with soapy water. Always serve food on clean plates and avoid reusing plates that previously held raw meat and poultry.
- Separate raw and cooked foods so you don't cross contaminate.
- Cook using a food thermometer to make sure food reaches a safe minimum internal temperature.
- Chill leftovers within two hours of cooking. Keep track of how long items have been sitting on the buffet table and discard anything that has been out longer than two hours.
When cooking, make sure that meat in particular reaches the correct internal temperatures to destroy food poisoning bacteria.
- Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 F before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality reasons, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, you may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.
- Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal to an internal temperature of 160 F.
- Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 F as measured with a food thermometer.
If you are bringing a dish when visiting relatives or friends, be sure to keep hot foods hot (140 F or above), by carrying them in insulated containers. If you’re transporting cold food, keep it cold (40 F or below), by carrying it with cold sources such as ice or frozen gel packs. The best way to ensure that food is being held at a safe temperature while you are traveling is to pack and use an appliance thermometer in the cooler.
Lastly, for tech savvy holiday cooks, the FoodKeeper smartphone and tablet application is quickly establishing itself as the quick reference go-to guide for safe food storage and preparation. A recent update just integrated food product recall announcements into the app. Available in English and Spanish, the FoodKeeper has information on safe storage of leftovers and 500+ different food and drink items.
Consumers can learn more about key food safety practices at foodsafety.gov and follow @USDAFoodSafety on Twitter. Consumers with questions about food safety can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist in English or Spanish at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.