I am the first to admit I am potentially over obsessed with food safety.
I don’t like other people handling raw meat in my kitchen.
I get woozy eating a pink hamburger.
Don’t you dare run other errands with groceries in the trunk of your car unless there’s a wind chill warning out.
That being said, I’d like to share some food safety information with you, you know, just in case you’re planning on picking up some groceries this summer and coming over to my house to make me a hamburger.
I also write this post knowing that my real-life friends are laughing knowingly and plotting how to trick me into drinking milk that has gone past the expiration date. Don’t you dare, guys.
Who better to get your food safety information from than an obsessive freak like me?
Let’s start with meat temperatures. When cooked meat reaches a certain temperature it kills the bacteria that may be residing there. There are different kinds of bacteria in different kinds of meat. Some meat also continues to cook after you take it off the heat, further increasing the temperature. I own an awesome yet inexpensive meat thermometer that allows me to know where my meat is at. Here are some temperatures to which I like to cook my meat:
Ground meat and meat mixtures
- Beef, pork, veal or lamb – 160ºF
- Turkey or chicken – 165ºF
Fresh beef, veal or lamb (steaks, roasts, chops) – 145ºF, rest 3 minutes for medium-rare; 160ºF, rest 3 minutes for medium; 170º, rest 3 minutes for well done
- Whole chicken or turkey – 180ºF
- Poultry breasts, roasts – 170ºF
- Poultry thighs, legs, wings – 180ºF
- Duck and goose – 180ºF
- Stuffing cooked alone or in the bird – 165ºF
Pork and ham
- Fresh pork or ham – 145ºF, rest 3 minutes
- Precooked ham – 140ºF
Eggs – Until yolk and whites are firm
Egg dishes – 160ºF
- Fin fish – 145ºF or until opaque and flakes easily with a fork
- Shrimp, lobster, and crabs – Until flesh is pearly and opaque
- Clams, oysters, mussels – Until shells open during cooking
- Scallops – Until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm
They are there for a reason people. Some things say “sell by,” and in that case I would say its acceptable to continue eating the item for several days after the date. Bread is a good example. If it doesn’t have visible mold and still looks and tastes good, go for it. If your yogurt just says July 1st on it, don’t risk it on July 2nd. Splurge on a new yogurt.
We could argue all day about raw milk and other dairy products. I’m a little on the fence about this issue but currently lean towards choosing pasteurized milk or finding other alternatives such as soy or almond milk. The obvious health benefits of raw milk don’t outweigh the contamination risk for me. Its also considered generally unsafe to consumer runny eggs or raw cookie dough made with eggs. I admit to indulging in each on occasion, but if you really want to be safe I recommend that you don’t.
Some foods such as mayonnaise can grow harmful bacteria quickly not only sitting in the sun but also at room temperature. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve known that have gotten sick from bad mayo.Its also important not to let foods that should be cold or hot sit around at room temperature for more than two hours. Foods that are acceptable (and even preferable) to store at room temperature include potatoes, bread, onions, tomatoes, and garlic still on the bulb or in its papery jacket.
Its also important to avoid cross contamination. Store raw meats in bags in the bottom of your refrigerator to avoid dripping juices onto fresh foods.. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and ready to eat foods. Always wash your hands after handling raw meat.
Making a grocery list each week (or two weeks, or month, however often you go shopping) is a great way to cut down food waste and make sure you don’t have lots of extras sitting around going bad. I clean out the fridge and assess everything inside once a week when I get home from the grocery store to make sure there is room for the new stuff and that everything in there is safe and edible. Its nice to know when I open the fridge that I can grab anything without worrying about how long it has been in there.
Hopefully some of this basic information will be useful to you in your kitchen. I think keeping food safe makes it more enjoyable and allows me to feel confident in trying new things.
How’s your food safety? Are there some areas where you feel more relaxed and others where you’re strict?