It's almost time to get that turkey into the oven and onto everyone's plates! That, along with the mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, salads, and pies. One of the most important things to keep in mind while cooking up a storm is making sure to keep the kitchen sanitary. No one wants to miss out on Black Friday shopping because of food poisoning!
- Store raw foods correctly in the fridge. Store raw meats on the bottom shelves, packaged foods in the middle, and raw vegetables on the top shelves. Occasionally, raw meats can leak and drip bloody juices. Don't let them drip onto your vegetables or other food!
- Wash hands! The most basic food safety guideline is to wash hands. Hands should be washed:
- When first beginning cooking
- After using the restroom
- After touching face, hair, clothes, or anything other than food and cooking utensils
- When switching from raw to cooked food
- After touching raw meat
- After touching buttons on the oven, microwave, or stove
- Every hour, on the hour
- Don't cross contaminate. Keep raw meats from touching other food. Use separate cutting boards for vegetables, poultry, beef, seafood, and diary. Use separate knives for each of these, as well, or wash the knife in hot, soapy water in between. Don't touch cooked foods after touching raw meats without washing hands.
- Sneeze into crook of arm. This is simple manners, but sometimes hard to remember. While cooking in the kitchen, don't sneeze onto the food. Nobody wants someone else's germs!
- Cook the turkey to 165 degree internal temperature. Turkey is poultry, and can carry many very harmful bacteria, like salmonella. FoodSafety.gov recommends that, in order to make sure the turkey is thoroughly cooked and bacteria not harmful, make sure the internal cooking temperature reaches 165 degrees. Use a meat thermometer and insert into the thickest part of the thigh, being very careful not to let the probe sit against a bone.
- Cook ham to 140-145 degrees internal temperature. FoodSafety.gov also recommends that fresh ham cooked from a raw state be heated to 145 degrees with a rest time of three minutes before cutting into it, and a pre-cooked ham be reheated to at least 140 degrees.
- Use bleach to clean areas that touched raw meats. Many cleaners contain bleach and antibacterial properties. Clean counter tops, knives, cutting boards, and utensils that were used to handle raw meats.
- Also bleach areas that may have been touched with contaminated hands. Wipe down knobs, buttons, and door handles that may be contaminated with raw meats. Microwave buttons, oven and stove knobs and buttons, oven doors, fridge door, sink faucet, and the sink.
- Use a very diluted bleach spray on clean hand-washed dishes. Sometimes, hot water used when hand-washing dishes isn't hot enough to kill all bugs completely. Use about a teaspoon of bleach per 20 oz. of water in a spray bottle, and lightly mist the clean dishes to kill anything left on them. Leave the spray on and air dry.
- Launder all kitchen towels and washcloths. After heavy use, washing these in a hot washer will kill everything that might be hiding.
- Microwave the sponge. Stick all dirty sponges in the microwave while wet (but not dripping) and microwave for two minutes. This is the most effective way to kill bacteria living in the little sponge crevices.
- Store leftovers correctly. Use shallow, small Tupperware and dishes to store hot leftovers so they cool quickly and evenly. If a large pan of food is put in the fridge, it may never cool down in the middle, making the food unsafe for later consumption. If things are very hot, use a ice water bath to cool it. Fill sink with ice water, and set the dish down into the water (without letting it get wet!). Stir the food around so it can touch the sides of the dish and cool quickly.
- Throw away food that sat out for more than three hours. The general rule of thumb is three hours. If the food didn't make it to the fridge in time, toss it in the trash.
Enjoy your meals and remember to keep safe this holiday!