Each year, one in six people in the U.S. gets food poisoning from the Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli bacteria in spoiled food. That’s 48 million cases annually with 128,000 hospitalizations (and 3,000 deaths).
Follow these steps to avoid a recipe for disaster:
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Also wash counters, cutting boards, and cooking tools after use. Be sure to wash fruits and vegetables before peeling.
Use one clean cutting board for fruits and vegetables only. Designate different, clean cutting boards for cooked meats and raw meats. Ditto plates or serving platters. NEVER place cooked meat and raw meat together whether indoors or when grilling outside! (That goes for fish, too.) At the store, while transporting, and in the fridge via different bins, separate raw meat and eggs from each other and the rest of the groceries.
Use a food thermometer to be sure meat is cooked thoroughly. Keep food hot after cooking until served at 140oF.
Follow microwave cooking directions on labels (heat to 165oF – get there by not bypassing the “let sit for x minutes” instructions following timed cooking and checking with a thermometer).
Refrigerate leftovers within two hours. Thaw frozen food in the fridge only. Marinate meat in the fridge, too. Throw out the marinade after marinating time is done. Toss almost-spoiled and spoiled food quickly.
By Lisa Miceli Feliciano