Eat at Your Own Risk

Delaware ag officials suggest consumers need to step up to 'food safety' plate.

Delaware Ag Department officials have it right: Consumers must do their part to ensure food safety.

Responding to a flood of consumer worries about E. coli-contaminated ground beef from the Topps and Cargill meat recalls, the Ag Department issued a consumer bulletin with helpful advice.

It was noted that the illnesses associated with that meat wouldn't have happened with proper handling and cooking. The bacteria would have been killed by cooking to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service insists the only way to ensure that is to use an accurate food thermometer.

Safety info worth sharing

Here are a few of the tips from that advisory, based on USDA and Food and Drug Administration information:

  • Never buy packages that are torn or leaking, even if they're frozen.
  • Have raw meat and poultry plastic bagged separately so meat juices won't cross- contaminate other foods.
  • Be sure deli department clerks follow good sanitary practices -- no bare hand contact, hair restraints and clean surfaces.
  • If you're farther than 30 minutes from your refrigerator, bring a iced cooler for items requiring refrigeration.
  • Wash hands before and after handling raw meat and poultry and be sure all work surfaces are clean as well.
  • To sanitize a cutting board, for example, wash with hot, soapy water. Then clean with a solution of one teaspoon chlorine bleach in one quart of water. Rinse and pat dry.
  • Marinate meat and poultry in a covered dish in the "fridge" unless cooking them within the hour.
  • Thoroughly wash all fresh vegetables and fruits under cold running water. Scrub produce when possible.
  • Cook ground meats and all pork to 160 degrees Fahrenheit; or until brown in the middle with no pink juices.
  • Beef, veal and lamb steaks, roasts and chops may be cooked to 145 degrees.
  • Whole poultry and thighs should reach 180 degrees; breasts, 170 degrees. Juices should be clear.
  • Never refrigerate one large pot of food or a whole cooked turkey.

For more food safety info, visit these Web sites:
* www.fsis.usda.gov/fact_sheets/Doneness_Versus_Safety/index.asp  
* www.fsis.usda.gov/Food_Safety_Education/Ask_Karen/index.asp#Question  
* www.fsis.usda.gov/Food_Safety_Education/for_kids_&_teens/index.asp

TAGS: USDA
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