Contributed by: NAPSA
(NAPS) - As Americans enjoy the healthy benefits and good taste of grilling, experts warn it's important not to push food safety to the back burner. Government data show that meat and poultry are safer than ever.
Always wash your hands with soap and hot water before and after handling raw meat, poultry and produce-and use soap and hot water to wash utensils and surfaces that have contacted raw meat, poultry or produce. Also, it isn't necessary to wash raw chicken before cooking it. Any bacteria will be destroyed by cooking.
Always separate raw meats from all other foods. Bacteria in raw meat juices can contaminate foods that have been cooked safely or raw foods that won't be cooked, such as salad ingredients. Do not use the same platters for raw and cooked meat or poultry. Never reuse raw meat packaging or marinades.
When grilling in the warm weather, keep raw meat and poultry products chilled until they are ready to be cooked. Bacteria grow when food is in the "danger zone," between 40 and 140 degrees. If using frozen meat, keep it cold while thawing. The best method is to thaw it slowly in the refrigerator. To defrost more rapidly, put the meat in a watertight plastic bag in cold water. Cook immediately or refrigerate after thawing. Do not refreeze.
Always use a meat thermometer. It's the best way to know your food has been cooked to a safe temperature. Ground meat and poultry products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. For cooking temperature recommendations on other products, follow the manufacturer's guidelines as listed on the thermometer packaging.
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