Cook: Cook to the right temperature
- Food is safely cooked when the internal temperature gets high enough to kill germs that can make you sick. The only way to tell if food is safely cooked is to use a food thermometer. You can’t tell if food is properly cooked by checking its color and texture.
- Temperatures between 160°F to 212°F will kill most bacteria. Lower temperatures betweenn140°F and 159°F prevent their growth, but bacteria may survive.
- The Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Charts provides guidance on cooking and rest time for meat, poultry, seafood, and other cooked foods.
Chill: Refrigerate foods promptly
- Keep your refrigerator at 40°F or below and the freezer temperature at 0° F or below. Twenty-three percent of consumer refrigerators aren’t cold enough. To ensure proper temperature, place a refrigerator thermometer inside the refrigerator on the middle shelf.
- Perishable food should be refrigerated within 2 hours. If the outdoor temperature is above 90°F, refrigerate within 1 hour.
- Thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, cold water or in the microwave. Never thaw foods on the counter, because bacteria multiply quickly in the parts of the food that reach room temperature.
- Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.
Food safety is also essential when it comes to shipped meal kits, food delivered by a local service, or takeout. This includes food arriving at a safe temperature to prevent the growth of bacteria that could make you sick. Bacteria can multiply rapidly if food is kept in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 140°F for more than two hours. Remember, you can’t see, smell, or taste harmful bacteria that may cause illness.
Constance Brown-Riggs, is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, national speaker and author of the Diabetes Guide to Enjoying Foods of the World, a convenient guide to help people with diabetes enjoy all the flavors of the world while still following a healthy meal plan. Follow Constance on social media @eatingsoulfully