Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed: Delicious and Safe
On Mother’s Day, many families have a tradition: the kids prepare and serve breakfast in bed for Mom. It’s a great opportunity not just to celebrate mothers but also to help kids learn the basic lessons of food safety. Besides, the goal is to serve a safe, delicious breakfast in bed – not give Mom a foodborne illness that will leave her sick in bed!
Lesson 1. Keep Everything Clean
Bacteria and viruses can be hiding just about anywhere: in the kitchen, on a plate and on hands. These invisible enemies can make Mom sick. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after preparing food, after playing with pets or handling pet food, and after using the bathroom.
Wash all fruits and vegetables with running tap water before cutting or eating them. Put food on clean surfaces only. Always use clean knives, forks, spoons, and plates.
Lesson 2. Keep Raw and Cooked Foods Separated
Cross-contamination is the scientific word for how bacteria can be spread from one food to another. To prevent cross-contamination, always keep raw meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood (and their juices) away from ready-to-eat foods.
Always wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot, soapy water after they come in contact with raw meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood. Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
Lesson 3. Cook Food to Safe Temperatures
You can’t see, smell, or taste bacteria that cause foodborne illness. That’s why you should use a food thermometer to make sure food has reached a safe internal temperature. You can't tell food is cooked safely by how it looks.
Always place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food, away from bone and fat, to check the temperature. Always cook eggs before eating them. When cooked, eggs should be firm, not runny.
Lesson 4. Keep Perishable Foods Cold
To grow and multiply, bacteria need time and the right environment: moisture and warmth. Most bacteria grow quickly between 40 °F and 140 °F (the Danger Zone). Some bacteria can double their numbers every 20 minutes.
Some foods that need to stay cold (at 40 °F or below) include sandwiches or salads made with meat and poultry; tuna and egg salad; milk, cheese, and yogurt; and peeled or cut fruits and vegetables.
Refrigerate any leftovers from Mom’s special meal within 2 hours. Throw out perishable food left out for more than 2 hours, and don’t feed it to your pets. Even pets are susceptible to foodborne bacteria. To reheat leftovers safely, make sure they reach 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
Questions and Answers
Posted May 17, 2010, updated June 3, 2010
Q. What about freezing leftovers and storing in the freezer for a month or two?
A. Food that is kept frozen (constantly at 0 degrees F) will always be safe. Only the quality suffers with lengthy storage. For guidelines on storing leftovers and other foods, see Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer.
Q. What about freezer burn?
A. Freezer burn appears as grayish-brown leathery spots on food. It's caused by air reaching the surface of the food. The product remains safe to eat, but the areas with freezer burn will be dried out and tasteless. If you'd like, you can trim away freezer-burned portions, either before or after cooking the food. If the food is heavily freezer-burned, you may have to discard it for quality reasons. It may be too dried to eat or have an unpleasant flavor.