Quick Food Safety Tips during Spring Festivities
Spring is here. That means Easter and Passover are right around the corner. If you’re hosting a holiday lunch or dinner for your family or friends, please follow our simple tips to serve up a food safe festivity.
Ham is one of the most popular dishes served every Easter. There are different types of hams:
- Fresh, Uncooked Hams –must be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 145 °F and allowed to rest for three minutes before serving.
- Spiral-Cut or Fully Cooked, Unsliced Hams – these are a ready-to-eat products that can be served cold or can be reheated. If you reheat it, make sure it’s heated to at least 140 °F before serving.
- Country Hams –should be soaked for 4 to 12 hours in the refrigerator to reduce the salt content before cooking. After soaking, it should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 145 °F and allowed to rest for three minutes before serving.
Beef brisket and lamb are also popular spring holiday dishes. If you’re serving brisket, you should plan ahead. Unlike many beef cuts, it is less tender and requires longer cooking or until “fork-tender.” If cooking in the oven, set the oven for 350 °F or no lower than 325 °F. Place brisket fat-side up. Barely cover the meat with water—about 1 inch—and keep the container covered throughout the cooking time. Cook for about one hour per pound of meat; for more cooking information see Corned Beef and Food Safety
There are many types of lamb cuts, such as shanks, shoulders, steaks. Regardless of its cut, all lamb should be cooked to a safe internal minimum temperature of 145 °F, with a 3-minute rest time, as measured with a meat thermometer. See a cooking chart for various lamb cuts.
If you plan to make an egg dish or eat the Easter eggs you decorate, be sure not to leave these out at room temperature for more than two hours. Always cook eggs until both the white and yolk are firm. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160 °F, as measured by a food thermometer.
Serve cooked eggs and dishes containing eggs immediately after cooking, or place in shallow containers for quick cooling and refrigerate at once for later use. Use within 3 to 4 days.
Be sure to only use food grade dye if you plan to eat the Easter eggs you decorate. USDA recommends making two sets of eggs – one for decorating and hiding, another for eating. Consider using plastic eggs for hiding. If plan to eat, after hard cooking eggs, dye them and return them to the refrigerator within two hours.