Kitchen Cleanliness: even in a spotless kitchen cross-contamination can occur. Good housekeeping practice means immediately washing anything that comes in contact with raw meat using a cleaning rag that is dedicated exclusively to clean-up of instruments and surfaces that have come in contact with raw meat or poultry. Some restaurants use pink dish rags for work in areas where raw meat is handled and white cloths in areas where cooked food is handled. It is wise to confine the handling of raw meat to as small of area as possible, such as the sink, and wipe down thoroughly after meat preparation.
A dilute mixture of warm water and chlorine bleach is an effective disinfectant for sterilizing surfaces where raw meat has been handled. For convenience keep on hand disinfecting wipes by Lysol or Clorox that kill 99% of bacteria. Use the wipes to clean counters and tools and then discard to avoid spreading bacteria and contamination from the cloth to other surfaces. I keep a spray bottle with 1/3-part chlorine to 2/3-parts water at hand to spray surfaces and wipe dry with paper toweling. Allow the chlorine mixture to set on the surface a few minutes before wiping clean and discarding the paper toweling.
|Safe grilling ensures healthy summer dining.|
E. coli is the best known of food borne bacteria and can live in meat and vegetables. In fact, any food can be contaminated with it: undercooked hamburger and roast beef, unpasteurized milk, unpasteurized cider processed from unwashed apples which fell on soil contaminated by the manure of sick cows, vegetables grown in soils fertilized with cow manure. There is no way a farmer, however careful and conscientious, can know which cow is contaminated and which is not. So it is up to the cook to prepare the foods they serve properly in accordance with safe food handling guidelines.
The US Department of Agriculture has prepared a list of Fahrenheit temperatures to which meat, poultry and eggs should be cooked in order to kill food borne bacteria. Temperatures should be measured with a clean instant-read thermometer inserted at the thickest part of the meat. Reference the table below:
- Fresh ground beef, veal, lamb, pork: 160F
- Beef, veal, lamb: roasts, steaks, chops: 145F (medium rare); 160F (medium); 170F (well done)
- Fresh pork: roasts, steaks, chops: 145F
- Ham: cook before eating: 160F
- Ham: fully cooked, to reheat: 140F
- Poultry: Ground chicken, turkey: 165F
- Poultry: whole chicken, turkey: 180F
- Poultry: breasts, roasts: 170F
- Poultry: thighs & wings: cook until juices run clear
- Stuffing: (cooked alone or in bird): 165F
- Egg dishes, casseroles: 160F
- Leftovers: 165F
For more information contact the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555.
Fruits and Vegetables: Raw foods, such as produce, should be washed thoroughly under cool running water in an area free from contamination from raw meat preparation. Separate utensils and cutting boards should be used for produce and meat to avoid cross contamination.
Vegetables are best stored chilled to slow deterioration. Chilling of fruits and vegetables causes all metabolic activities, including respiration, to slow down. Most fruits and vegetables are best stored at refrigerator temperatures and in conditions where oxygen is limited. Store vegetables in the crisper compartment of the refrigerator, unwashed, until the time of use.