Ahh, Spring! This week, a new season is getting a nice kick-off with Passover and Easter holidays. These celebrations are filled with traditional meals that have unique food safety considerations that may or may not be included in the family recipe book. The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline has some food safety tips and steps here that, if added to your favorite recipes, can reduce the risk of food poisoning. As with any food preparation, always remember to Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.
Before preparing any meal, wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, and clean surfaces and utensils with hot soapy water before and after handling raw food. Perishable food should not be left out for more than two hours at room temperature, so check the time at your gathering and make sure either to get food back in the refrigerator or to discard it. Refrigerated leftovers for all foods in this blog should be used within four days.
Beef Brisket: One reason that it’s an excellent choice for entertaining is that it can be prepared in advance. In fact, you must prepare it in advance and cook it slowly to make it tender. Also, because it can be cooked ahead of time and it reheats well, brisket is a great cut of meat to serve to large groups. Follow these food safety tips for cooking and serving brisket:
- Be sure to allow plenty of time to thaw a frozen brisket. Thawing in the refrigerator can take about 24 hours for a trimmed, first-cut brisket. A whole brisket weighing about 10 pounds can take several days.
- Keep raw meat refrigerated at 40 ˚F or below until ready to cook. Place the meat on a plate or container to hold the juices that can drip on other foods to prevent cross-contamination.
- Bake the brisket, fat side up in a baking dish, in an oven set no lower than 325 ˚F. The brisket is safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 145 °F and is allowed to rest at that temperature for three minutes. Use a food thermometer to be sure. For personal preferences, consumers may choose to cook the brisket longer for tenderness.
- If reheating brisket before serving, remember to reheat to 165 °F.To serve brisket cold, keep it at 40 °F or below by nesting dishes in beds of ice, or use small servings platters and replace them often.
Ham: There are many kinds of hams on the market, but your family likely is purchasing a fully cooked ham. Here are tips for storing and serving a fully cooked ham:
- When buying a ham, look for the USDA or State Mark of Inspection.
- Refrigerate the ham at 40 ˚F or below immediately after arriving home.
- These hams are best served cold. However, if you want to reheat them, set the oven at 325 ˚F and heat to an internal temperature of 140 °F as measured with a food thermometer. If the ham was repackaged at your butcher shop or grocer, reheat it to 165 °F. Individual slices may also be warmed in a skillet or microwave.
Deviled Eggs: Follow these food safety tips below for making an egg dish such as deviled eggs. Remember, eggs are perishable just like raw meat, poultry, and fish, and could contain pathogens.
- Our virtual food safety expert, Ask Karen, has helpful instructions on how to boil eggs.
- After cooking the eggs, it is a good idea to keep the whites refrigerated while preparing the filling.
- Keep deviled eggs chilled until you are ready to serve. Eggs should not stay at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Use a cooler with ice when transporting to another location.
For additional questions visit Ask Karen, our virtual food safety expert available 24/7, at AskKaren.gov or m.AskKaren.gov via smartphone. The Meat and Poultry Hotline can also be reached at 1-888-MPHotline from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.
Chicks and other live poultry can be cute, but they can also carry germs that can make you seriously sick. Last year alone, eight multistate outbreaks caused nearly 500 people to get sick from touching or handling these birds, more than 90 people went to the hospital, and there were four deaths.
It’s important to know that live poultry can look healthy but still carry germs, such as Salmonella, which can spread to people. These germs can mean more than just feeling bad —they can mean missed days at work, having to go to the doctor or hospital , or even worse.
It’s also important to know that there are things you can do to protect yourself and your family.
What can I do to not get sick?
These simple steps will help protect yourself and others from getting sick:
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
- Clean any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry outside the house, such as cages or feed or water containers.
- Never bring live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens, or outdoor patios.
Who is especially at risk for getting sick from Salmonella?
Children, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. Children can be exposed to germs by holding, cuddling, or kissing the birds and by touching things where the bird lives, such as cages or feed and water bowls. Young children are especially at risk for illness because their immune systems are still developing and because they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths.
For more information, please visit: Risk of Human Salmonella Infections from Live Baby Poultry
(cross-posted from FDA Voice blog)
Last week, we kicked off a series of public meetings—with about 400 people participating—to stimulate dialogue and gain input on FDA’s first two proposed rules to implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. In her opening remarks, Dr. Hamburg noted how her appointment as FDA Commissioner by President Obama, coming on the heels of the illnesses and deaths attributed to contaminated peanut products, helped make food safety a high priority for her and the Administration.
It was fitting that we held our first meeting in a USDA auditorium in Washington, D.C., because we have worked closely with USDA and with other government partners at the state and local level, as well as with industry and consumer groups, to get the rules right. That means holding a lot of meetings to explain the proposed rules, visiting farms and facilities, and opening dockets for comments from interested parties, to receive as much input from the public as possible before we finalize the rules.
The diversity of those who signed up to make public comments at the meeting shows how important food safety is to all of us, from victims of foodborne illness to farmers and food manufacturers. First up was 15-year-old Dana Dziadul, who was three years old when she became ill from Salmonella in cantaloupe. The compelling stories from Dana and other victims of foodborne illness, and their families, remind us all that first and foremost, we have a public health obligation to address the harsh reality that each year, 3,000 people die and more than 100,000 are hospitalized because of foodborne illness. Our first obligation is to do everything we can to reduce these numbers.
We also know that improving food safety helps avoid the disruptions in the marketplace that result from illness outbreaks and recalls of food and maintain consumer confidence in healthful foods, such as the produce that the proposed rules cover. This convergence of interests has made our current food safety initiatives a real community effort, with industry, consumers and government coming together around the common goal of modernizing our food safety system to better prevent problems. We all have a responsibility, and we all have a role, in making and keeping food safe.
The work ahead may sound simple—having the right standards in place that are based on the best information we have on how to prevent hazards, and making sure these standards are met. But we have much yet to accomplish. We have to make sure the standards are flexible enough to address the diversity of operations across the country—from small farms to large facilities, from Maine to California. We also need to be sure FDA is ready to operate under this new, prevention-oriented framework, which will require employee training and ensuring our resources are focused on the greatest risks. And we are committed to providing technical assistance so that industry, especially small operations, can meet the new requirements when they are finalized.
These two proposed rules we have announced are very important, but we have three additional rules coming to further form our food safety framework. To address the safety of imports, we will soon be proposing a rule that requires that importers based in the United States verify that their overseas supplies are following prevention-based standards that provide the same level of public health protection as those that are in place here. Also addressing imports is a proposed rule on the accreditation of the third party auditors that industry uses to help them determine if food safety standards are being met. The third proposed rule coming addresses preventive controls for animal food, including pet food. Preventive controls are steps that firms must put in place to control hazards such as microbial contamination that could occur in a food facility.
We will be holding two more public meetings—one in Chicago and one in Portland, Oregon. You can find more information on our web site at fda.gov/fsma. Six meetings in various states across the country also are scheduled. Your comments are important to us, and I encourage you to submit comments at regulations.gov before the May 16th deadline.
The road ahead is a long one, and it will take years, and sustained commitment, to have our framework fully in place. But, for America’s families and our vibrant food system, the hard work is absolutely worth it!
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