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Importance of Food Safety- Keep Food Safe- Using a Food Thermometer

What is food borne illness?

Food borne illness is sickness that is caused by certain forms of bacteria and other disease agents that are present in our environment.  Food handling errors made in food service institutions or at home may also cause food borne illness. Safe food is food that has little risk of causing food borne illness (food poisoning). Be sure to thoroughly clean hands, food contact surfaces, and fruits and vegetables.  Meat and poultry should not be washed or rinsed.  Some foods require special care to be sure they are safe to eat: eggs, meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, milk products, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Young children are at high risk of food borne illness so be especially careful to prepare and serve foods using food safety precautions.

Keep Food Safe Food borne illness is caused by bacteria that multiply rapidly within the Danger Zone (40 °F to 139 °F).  It is important to keep food safe, that is, to keep the internal temperature of cooked foods that will be served hot at 139 °F or above.  Foods served cold should be kept at 40 °F or below.

The cooking temperature depends on the food item (see page 79 for information on internal temperatures).  Microwave heating requires the temperature to be 165 °F or higher.  As soon as possible, but no longer than 2 hours after cooking, refrigerate (40 °F or less) leftovers in pans 2″ deep or less to halt the growth of most, but not all, of the bacteria that may have contaminated the food after cooking.  Never let perishable food remain any longer than necessary in the danger zone (40 °F to 139 °F).  Freezing food at 0 °F or less can stop bacterial growth but will not kill bacteria that are already there.  Reheat foods at or above 165 °F to kill the bacteria.

To prevent food contamination, be sure that everything that touches food during preparation and service is clean.  Fresh fruits and vegetables also need to be clean.  Wash fresh produce under cold running tap water to remove any lingering dirt.  If there is a firm surface, such as on apples or potatoes, the surface can be scrubbed with a brush.  Cut away any damaged or bruised areas.  Meat and poultry should not be washed or rinsed.  Use food thermometers while cooking, holding, and serving food.  Also, place appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and oven.

Using a Food Thermometer Using a food thermometer is the only sure way to tell if the food has reached a high enough temperature to destroy harmful bacteria.  Always check the temperature of foods to make sure that they are thoroughly cooked
  • Use a metal-stemmed, numerically scaled thermometer, accurate to plus or minus 2 °F.
  • Sanitize the thermometer before each use with a sanitizing solution
  • Check the food temperature in several places, especially in the thickest parts.
  • To avoid getting a false reading, be careful not to let the thermometer touch the pan, bone, fat or gristle.
  • For poultry, insert the tip into the thick part of the thigh next to the body.