Avoid a food poisoning nightmare before and on Christmas Day
Multiple cooks, including children and the elderly, and multiple meals and dishes prepared at the same time during the holidays, all constitute a potential food poisoning nightmare.
The best way to keep your family safe is to follow the four basic rules of food safety: clean, separate, cook and cool.
“Clean” reminds consumers to wash their hands and kitchen surfaces often while cooking. “Separated” prevents cross-contamination by encouraging consumers to keep their raw meats away from other foods. “Cook” informs consumers of the need to cook their meats, poultry, fish and egg products to the correct internal temperature. “Chill” emphasizes the importance of rapid refrigeration of food. Focusing on these behaviors gives consumers clear steps they can take to protect themselves and their families from food poisoning.
Are you a Christmas ham or turkey family?
According to Monday Food Safety News Twitter survey, over 40 percent of our subscribers say they prefer ham for Christmas.
USDA Ham Cooking Safety Tips:
- Whole or half-cooked vacuum-packed hams packaged in federally inspected factories and canned hams can be eaten cold, right out of the package.
- If you want to reheat those cooked hams, set the oven to no less than 325 ° F and heat to an internal temperature of 140 ° F as measured with a food thermometer.
- Unwrapped cooked ham is potentially contaminated with pathogens. For cooked hams that have been repackaged in any other location outside the processing plant or for leftover cooked ham, heat to 165 ° F.
- Spiral-cooked hams can also be safely eaten cold, if they have been stored at appropriate temperatures. These hams are best served cold because heating whole hams or sliced halves can dry out the meat and melt the glaze and sauté the meat. If reheating is desired, hams that have been packaged in processing plants under USDA inspection should be heated to 140 degrees F as measured with a food thermometer (165 degrees F for leftover cut ham spiral or ham that has been repackaged in any other location outside the plant). To reheat a spiral-sliced ham in a conventional oven, cover the entire ham or individual portions with heavy foil and heat to 325 degrees F for about 10 minutes per pound. Individual slices can also be reheated in a skillet or microwave, but should reach 165 degrees F.
- Hams cooked before eating or fresh hams should reach 145 degrees F (with a 3 minute standing time) to be cooked safely before serving. Bake in an oven set to no less than 325 degrees F. Hams can also be safely cooked in microwaves, other countertop appliances and on the stovetop. Consult a cookbook for specific methods and timing.
- Country hams can be soaked for 4 to 12 hours or more in the refrigerator to reduce the salt content before cooking. Then they can be cooked by boiling or by cooking. Follow the manufacturer’s cooking instructions.
From yesterday’s Food Safety News Twitter survey, just under 30 percent of our subscribers say they prefer turkey over Christmas.
USDA Turkey Cooking Safety Tips:
Safely Thaw Turkey
Perishable foods should never be thawed on the counter, at room temperature, or in hot water. They should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. There are safe ways to thaw turkey and other foods, including in the refrigerator, cold water, and in the microwave.
Even though the center of the food may still be frozen when it thaws on the counter, the outer layer of the food can easily be in the “danger zone,” between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F. danger allows life-threatening bacteria to multiply rapidly.
Remove the giblets from the turkey cavities after thawing and cook them separately.
Cook your turkey well
- Use a meat thermometer to determine when the turkey is done. The turkey is ready when the thermometer reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey thigh. Be aware that dark meat takes longer to cook than any other part.
- It is not necessary to baste the turkey during cooking. Watering tools can be a source of bacterial contamination if they are dipped in uncooked or undercooked poultry juices and then left at room temperature for later watering.
- Do not cook a turkey overnight in an oven on low heat. Cooking a turkey at a temperature below 325 degrees Fahrenheit allows harmful bacteria to multiply.
- If you buy a fully cooked turkey, collect it hot and take it home to eat immediately or refrigerate it.
- If your eggnog is egg-based, be sure to cook the base to a safe minimum temperature of 160 degrees F. Adding alcohol alone does not make eggnog safe for consumption.
- “Tiger meat” or “cannibalistic sandwiches” are a common winter holiday dish in the upper Midwest as well as in other parts of the country. It contains raw ground meat, usually beef, seasoned with spices and onions and sometimes raw eggs, and served on bread or cracker. Hundreds of people are sickened by eating this dish every year. Never eat raw meat. Ground beef and raw eggs pose health risks when eaten undercooked or raw. A safe alternative is to mix ground beef with spices and onion and cook it to a safe temperature of 160 degrees F.
- When baking this holiday season, don’t eat raw dough if it contains eggs or uncooked flour.
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