Did You Know… Keep Your Food Safe

— Written By Ivy Reid and last updated by Pam Brylowe

Americans like to eat and Jones County is no exception. Not only do we like to eat but we like to eat at social gatherings such as family reunions, church dinners, community meals, fundraisers for organizations or worthy causes. One thing we need to remember when we plan a community meal is food safety. After all a social gather does not hold fond memories if you get a food bourne illness as a result. This article offers seven food safety tips for successful community meals that we all should observe when we are providing food for others to eat.

1. Plan Ahead — Make sure the location meets your needs.
•Be sure you have enough oven, stovetop, refrigerator, freezer, and work space.
•Find out if there’s a source of clean water. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning.

2. Store & Prepare Food Safely
•Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within 2 hours of shopping or preparing; 1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F.
•Find separate preparation areas in the work space for raw and cooked food.
•Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that held raw food.
•Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and work surfaces frequently with hot, soapy water.
•Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling pets.

3. Cook Food to Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures — It’s the only way to tell if harmful bacteria are destroyed!
•Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry, casseroles, and other food. Check temperature in several places to be sure food is cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature.
•Never partially cook food for finishing later because you increase the risk of bacterial growth.

4. Transport Food Safely — Keep hot food HOT. Keep cold food COLD.
•Keep hot food at or above 140 °F. Wrap well and place in an insulated container.
•Keep cold food at or below 40 °F. Place in a cooler with a cold source such as ice or frozen gel packs.

5. Need to Reheat? Food must be hot and steamy for serving. Just “warmed up” is not good enough.
•Use the stove, oven, or microwave to reheat food to 165 °F. Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a boil.

6. Keep Food Out of the “Danger Zone” (40-140 °F).
•Keep hot food hot – at or above 140 °F. Place cooked food in chafing dishes, preheated steam tables, warming trays, and/or slow cookers.
•Keep cold food cold — at or below 40 °F. Place food in containers on ice.

7. When In Doubt, Throw it Out!
•Discard food left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours; 1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F.
•Place leftovers in shallow containers. Refrigerate or freeze immediately.

Be Food Safe! Prepare with Care
•CLEAN. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces often.
•SEPARATE. Don’t cross-contaminate.
•COOK. Use a food thermometer.
•CHILL. Chill food promptly.

This article was compiled by Ivy Reid with Jones County Cooperative Extension using information from BeFoodSafe.gov . For more information on this or other food safety topics contact Ivy at 252-448-9621 or ivy_reid@ncsu.edu.

North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation. North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.

This article will be published in the Jones Post newspaper on March 28, 2013 and was compiled by Ivy Reid, Director.