Safe-handling techniques when it comes to the food that you eat and feed to your family are very important. There are easy and affordable ways to handle and prepare beef, pork, poultry, and fruits and vegetables that can save you from possible food poisoning or ingesting more pesticides and fertilizers than you need to!
First, let's talk about beef. When you purchase hamburger, steak or any type of beef in the store, make sure you keep it separate from other items in your cart so it doesn’t contaminate other foods. Second, make sure to check the date on the package for freshness and pay attention to the color of the meat; usually, if the meat is not pink anymore, it is starting to go bad. Third, you should freeze or eat the meat within two days of buying it because bacteria can start to multiply and spread by then (Stewart, p.35, 2017). Finally, according to the book, Eating Between the Lines (2007), you should cook your ground-beef to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
Next up is pork. The same rules about keeping the meat isolated in the shopping cart from other items apply to pork as well. With pork, make sure to eat it or freeze it within three to five days of purchasing it. And, lastly, cooking the pork to 160 degrees is a good idea so you can kill off harmful bacteria like salmonella and E. coli (Stewart, p.46, 2007).
Poultry is next on the list and there are a few more safe-handling techniques with poultry than the previous two types of meat. Just like beef and pork, make sure to keep the poultry isolated from other items in your grocery cart. According to Stewart (2007), you should put the poultry in your cart as the last item when you are shopping so the temperature doesn’t rise above 40 degrees. Also, she recommends going right home after shopping so you are not leaving the meat in your car for too long. Poultry can start to spoil after two-hours at room temperature (Stewart, 2007). Next, when preparing the poultry in your kitchen, use a separate cutting board for fruits and vegetables that you do for poultry. Also, Stewart (2007) recommends getting all of your ingredients out and pre-measured before you start handling the poultry so you don't have to touch drawer and cupboard handles and she states that washing the poultry in your sink is not a good idea because it can spread bacteria in your kitchen. Finally, foodsafety.gov says to make sure to cook the poultry to a temperature of 165 degrees.
Fruits and vegetables are last on the list. Stewart (2007) makes it clear that it’s important to wash your produce with fresh running water, even if it has skin that you are planning to remove before you eat it. You should also wash your hands before and after you touch the produce. There is a list of safe-handling techniques for produce that Eating Between the Lines (2007) says are important and they include drying the produce after washing it, always keeping fruits and vegetables separate from raw meat and fish and if they do come in contact, throw the contaminated produce out. Finally, make sure to refrigerate produce within two hours of cutting or peeling it, and it’s probably best to get rid of bruised parts of fruits and vegetables (Stewart, p.23, 2007).
Preparing and cooking homemade meals for yourself and your family is so healthy and can be really fun and rewarding, just remember to purchase fresh meat and produce, keep your cooking area clean, cook your meat thoroughly, and wash your produce, and you are on your way to a safe and delicious meal!
F. (2009, August 23). Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures. Retrieved August 2, 2018, from
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Stewart, K.L. (2007). Eating Between the Lines. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin.