Safety First: Good Health starts with food-handling and cleanliness

Becky Varner writes about the importance of safe food-handling.
BY BECKY VARNER Published: August 1, 2012

Wash reusable cloth shopping bags in the washing machine regularly. If they are not machine washable, they can be washed by hand with hot soapy water. Use separate shopping bags for raw meat, poultry and seafood and be sure they are well wrapped in separate plastic bags before being placed in the shopping bag. This helps prevent the juice from leaking and contaminating the reusable bag and other food.

It is also important to thoroughly wash insulated lunch bags to prevent bacteria growth in them which can contaminate the contents.

Cook food to the proper temperature to kill harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Use a clean food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of food such as meat, poultry, egg dishes and casseroles to be sure they are thoroughly cooked. Never eat raw eggs or anything containing raw eggs. If a recipe calls for raw eggs use a liquid pasteurized egg substitute.

Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. The ideal temperature for harmful bacteria to grow rapidly is between 40 degrees and 140 degrees F. Hot foods on a buffet table should be held at 140 degrees F or higher. Foods can be kept hot in slow cookers or warming trays.

Leftovers should be chilled within two hours. Divide food into shallow containers for more rapid cooling and then refrigerate. Never let raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food or cut up fruits and vegetables be at room temperature for more than two hours before refrigerating. Be sure the refrigerator is 40 degrees F or below. Do not overstuff the refrigerate preventing cold air from circulating around the food. Use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature inside the refrigerator.


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Chicken Caesar salad

This recipe makes 6 servings

12 ounces cooked leftover chicken breast or 1 pound raw chicken breasts

12 cups cut or torn romaine lettuce leaves

24 cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup reduce fat crumbled feta cheese

Dressing Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil

11/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Dice or shred chicken if using leftover chilled cooked chicken. If using raw chicken, place in pot, cover with water and simmer 25 to 30 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted at the thickest part of one of the chicken breasts registers 165 degrees F. When cool enough to handle, dice or shred the chicken and refrigerate until ready to use on the salad.

Combine salad dressing ingredients in small jar. Cover with tightly fitting lid and shake to mix.

Place Romaine in large salad bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Divide evenly among six plates. Divide chilled chicken breast pieces evenly over the salads. Sprinkle each with feta cheese and add 4 cherry tomatoes to each salad.

Nutrition Information: This recipe makes 6 servings. Each serving contains approximately 199 calories and 10 grams fat.

IF YOU GO

Join Becky for cooking classes at Buy For Less and Uptown Grocery Co. Learn with Brunch featuring Creamed Beef on Toasted English Muffins and an Edible Watermelon Centerpiece at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at Uptown Grocery Co., 1230 W Covell Road, in Edmond. Learn with Lunch featuring Summer Salad, Pomadoro Chicken with Whole Wheat Pasta and Watermelon Cake at noon Aug. 14 at the Buy For Less at 3501 NW Expressway. Class size is limited, call 302-6273, ext. 332, for reservations.

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