Handling Meat Safely
Let’s talk about how to safely handle your meat before, during, and after cooking.
Start by storing your meat appropriately. Refrigerate raw meat, poultry, and seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping onto other foods. Raw juices contain harmful bacteria.
When you begin to prepare your food, always wash your hands and any cooking surfaces with warm soapy water. It is recommended by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. The recommended solution for surfaces and utensils is 1 tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. You should also use a separate cutting board for produce and raw meat to avoid cross-contamination.
If you are going to marinate your meat, always marinate in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Any sauce that is used to marinate should not be used for cooking unless it is boiled prior to use.
When cooking meat, the USDA advises that you allow the meat to reach a certain internal temperature to ensure safety. Poultry should reach 165°F, ground beef should reach 160°F, and beef roasts, steaks and seafood should be cooked to 145°F. The most reliable way to ensure they reach this temperature is by using a meat thermometer.
When serving food, always use a clean plate. Never place cooked food on the same plate or cutting board used to prepare the food, unless it has been properly washed. This is something to keep in mind when grilling.
When storing leftovers, refrigerate or freeze them within 2 hours. Make sure the container is clean, shallow, and can be covered.
For any food safety questions feel free to call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHOTLINE or visit their website www.fsis.usda.gov.