Are You Food Safety Savvy?
California Poultry Industry Offers Simple Food Safety Reminders
As We Head Into Outdoor Grilling Season
March 2005 (Modesto, CA) -- The spring and summer seasons will be here soon and that means more outdoor cooking and dining. The California Poultry Federation (CPF) wants to remind consumers that food handling and preparation is of year-round importance, and, especially critical during warmer months.
California poultry producers take food safety very seriously. They not only follow the strictest USDA guidelines through all stages of production and distribution, but also go above and beyond regulations to ensure the product you purchase is healthy, wholesome and safe. “The members of the California Poultry Federation are vigilant when it comes to making sure their products are safe in all stages of production, from the farm to the supermarket,” says Bill Mattos, president, CPF.
But, it’s not just up to the producer to make sure your food is safe. Contamination can happen at any point between the store and your dinner table. “Consumers can play a key role in food safety. That’s why it’s important to follow food safety guidelines to prevent foodborne illness. Follow the four key steps to food safety – Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill,” says Susan Conley, Director of the USDA FSIS Food Safety Education.
Are you food safety savvy? Could you pass the food safety tests? When your family asks what’s for dinner tonight, can you serve them a meal that was prepared in the safest way possible to avoid foodborne illness? The CPF wants to dispel myths, offer guidance and make certain what you cook is safe to eat for you and your family.
Guidelines for Safe Food Preparation
Safely cooked food is easy to attain by following a few simple steps to prevent bacteria growth on food cooked in the kitchen and outdoors. A little caution goes a long way in keeping family and guests healthy.
Clean: One cook, two cooks, three cooks or more… all should wash their hands and preparation surfaces often. Hands, counter tops, cutting boards, utensils and dishes should be washed with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before going on to the next.
Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate. Separate all raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods in the grocery cart and in your refrigerator. Use different cutting boards for raw meat products and fresh produce. Never place cooked food on a plate or platter that previously held raw meat or poultry.
Cook: Get out the thermometer and use it! Never guess on the doneness of meat. Cook meat and poultry to recommended temperatures. Did you marinate that chicken in the refrigerator before putting it on the grill? Throw out any unused marinade, or bring it to a boil to reuse it.
Chill: Don’t overpack the refrigerator or picnic cooler. Your refrigerator should be at 40 degrees F or below for safe storage. Thaw food in the refrigerator or in cold water, changing the water often. And, refrigerate that leftover barbecued chicken within 2 hours of cooking.
A few of the common myths about meat preparation are:
Free-range chickens are safer than traditionally farm raised. There is no valid scientific information that shows this is true.
Washing or soaking raw chicken or turkey removes naturally occurring bacteria from the meat making it safer. This is not recommended as a way to reduce foodborne illness; cooking to the recommended temperatures destroys any bacteria present.
Color is a good indication of thorough cooking. Using a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature is the best gauge of doneness. (The internal temperature of chicken and turkey, for example, should reach 180 degrees F.)
The bathroom is the most unsanitary spot in the house. Research has shown that kitchen sponges and dishcloths can contain alarming amounts of bacteria – so it’s critical to use clean materials when wiping down kitchen surfaces and before preparing meals.
The California Poultry Federation represents the state’s chicken and turkey producers and marketers. A trade association formed in 1990, the CPF represents all segments of the industry including growers, hatchers, breeders and processors. The CPF is also the representative for the California Squab Producers, the largest squab processing facility in the world, and represents ducks, game birds and other meat poultry as well. The California poultry industry is one of the state’s largest agricultural leaders and provides jobs to over 25,000 people, including thousands more in affiliated industries.