September is National Food Safety Month and according to the CDC, one in six Americans contract food-borne illnesses each year! Reduce your family's risk of contamination with these quick, easy tips:
Know the "danger zone": Keep food out of the range between 40-140 degrees F, where bacteria can grow the fastest. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of foods. Simply put, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Check this chart from Home Food Safety on the proper temperatures of different meats, eggs and leftovers http://www.homefoodsafety.org/cook/safe-temperatures
Washing Basics: Always wash hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds before cooking and in between handling raw meats or eggs. Wash all counter tops, cutting boards and dishes.
Separate: Prevent cross-contamination by using a separate cutting board for produce and one for raw meat. Never place cooked meat and poultry on the same dish they were on when raw. Keep raw meat, poultry and eggs on the bottom shelf in the refrigerator away from prepared foods.
Proper Thawing: The best way to thaw frozen meat is in the refrigerator, as this keeps it out of the "danger zone". Other methods include cold water thawing and microwave. To thaw in cold water, make sure food is sealed in a leak-proof package and submerged in cold water. Water should be changed every 30 minutes until thawed. Cook food immediately after thawing in the microwave. Food should never be thawed on the counter or left out at room temperature for more than two hours.
Packing Tips: Keep eggs, yogurt, cheese and lunch meats cold with two cold sources with an insulated lunch box, keep in the refrigerator if packing the night before and always wipe down the inside of reusable lunch boxes between uses.