3 main points of food safety:
1- Cross-contaminations: Whether it is thawing meat dripping down the fridge shelf, utensils used on raw meat, or hands that should have been washed, you need to avoid cross-contamination. Wash everything regularly and keeping food and utensils clean or separated. This can also be a useful practice when cooking for those with allergies or intolerances.
2- The Danger Zone: This is a temperature range that is hospitable to bacterial growth on food. The range for this Zone is 40F to 140F. Food left between these temperature ranges for too long will begin to grow bacteria. It is recommended that food only remain at these temperatures for 2 hours before it must be cooled or heated. Leftovers should be cooled down below this range quickly. Spreading things out thin in containers will help speed up this process.
3- Fire Safety: Always practice fire safety when cooking. Have a fire extinguisher handy. Never place flammable objects on the stove. Keep an isolation distance from the stove. NEVER put out a grease fire with water, use baking soda or the pot lid. If you ever have any doubts about extinguishing a fire, go outside and dial 911. Close the doors on your way out to help contain the fire.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful feast to share with friends and family, make it safe with these tips.
- Grapes can pose a choking hazard for small children. The size, shape, and tough outer skin can make them a choking hazard for smaller children. Cutting them in half can help your little one’s teeth get a grip on the fruit. This goes for all similar items like berries, melon balls, and even hotdogs. All these item’s shape and consistency make them prime choking hazards.
- Set hot dishes away from children while they cool. The oven should be a kid free zone, but so should any items that come out piping hot. Make sure your kids are occupied and away from hot items while they cool. The universal kitchen signal for a hot pan, tray, or dish is a towel or oven mitt draped over the handle. However, NEVER leave leave flammable items on or even near a dish that is still on the heat or even just on the stove.
- Cook turkey to 165F internal. This temperature should be taken in the thickest part of the meat in the middle. Make sure you have not hit a bone, this will throw off the reading. While you are at it, consider not stuffing the turkey and cooking the dressing separate. Cooking stuffing in a turkey to a safe temperature could result in the meat being overcooked.
- Wash hands before and after handling raw turkey. This goes for any meat. To prevent cross-contamination, wash your hands before touching the meat and after. You should also wash your cutting boards and knives between cutting meat and other items. It is preferable to have a cutting board only for raw meats.
- Thaw frozen turkey under cold running water and throw out any leftovers that have sat our for more than 2 hours. This is to avoid the DANGER ZONE described above.