SAFE BARBECUING FOR THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND CHILL IT, COOK IT, CHECK IT, KEEP IT SAFEBy Leslie Terjesen on Thursday, May 26, 2016
“Warm weather and holiday weekends go together and it is supposed to be warm this holiday weekend. It is important to follow food safety guidelines to prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying and causing foodborne illness, “stated Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health.
Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) Public Health Coordinator, pointed out the importance of taking extra precautions and practicing safe food handling when preparing perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products. “When shopping for your barbeque, buy cold foods last, right before checking out. Keep poultry away from other food; grab one of the plastic bags that are handy by the meat and poultry section and put the meat or chicken in the bag. Avoid raw meat or poultry juices dripping on other food. It is important to refrigerate perishable foods within two hours and keep them refrigerated until ready to use. If food gets packed in a cooler, keep it out of direct sunlight and avoid opening the lid too often. Freeze poultry and ground meat that will not be used in one or two days.”
Regenye continued, “We remind people of the importance of hand washing but it is equally important to keep everything you are using to cook with just as clean. Bacteria on raw meat and poultry can be easily spread to other foods by juices dripping from packages, hands, and utensils, called cross-contamination. To prevent foodborne illness, do not use the same platter and utensils for raw or cooked meat and poultry. If you are picnicking away from your home, find out if there is a source of clean water and if not; bring water for preparation and cleaning. You may choose to pack clean cloths and wet towlettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
The following steps are offered for safe cooking for you and your family. You can also find information at the Ocean County Health Department website at www.ochd.org.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before handling food.
- Use two cutting boards to keep raw meat, chicken, and fish apart from vegetables.
- Use a food thermometer to check meat, fish, and chicken after it is cooked. When taking foods off the grill, put cooked items on a clean plate.
- Chill food and leftovers in the refrigerator as soon as you finish eating.
- Always wash fruits and vegetables under running water before cutting or eating.
- Keep eggs in the refrigerator; cook eggs until the yolk is firm
- Defrost frozen food in the microwave or refrigerator, not the counter.
- Mayonnaise-based foods need to be kept cold. .
- Bacteria are often present on the rind of melons so it is important to wash the melon thoroughly before cutting. Once cut, refrigerate the cut pieces of melon.
- Not sure about quality, expiration, etc. of food….WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!