Mend Poor Food Safety Habits During the High Holy Days
The Jewish New Year marks a time for reflection and renewal. Because there a lots of celebratory feasts on the agenda, including meals for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the High Holy Days also make for a great time to review safe food handling practices. Here we’ll cover the basics of food safety surrounding some traditional foods that may pose a risk for foodborne illness.
Traditional dishes served for lunch and dinners for Rosh Hashanah include gefilte fish, brisket, baked chicken, roast vegetables and kugel. As you prepare these dishes, use separate cutting boards for produce and for meat, poultry, and seafood. This will ensure that any bacteria in these products will not cross-contaminate your vegetable dishes.
When preparing chicken dishes, be sure to bake the poultry to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F. Thorough cooking is required to kill any bacteria that may be in the chicken, and the only way to know if it is thoroughly cooked is to check the internal temperature.
Kugel, a traditional Jewish dish, and many other types of casseroles served during the High Holy Days, contain eggs. As with all dishes containing egg, Salmonella bacteria are a concern. You cannot tell if an egg contains Salmonella. In fact, the bacterium has been found inside even a clean, unbroken egg.
The only way to make sure these dishes are safe to eat is by fully cooking the eggs they contain. You know the dish is fully cooked when a thermometer inserted into the center of the mixture reaches 160 °F.
Jews traditionally eat a Meal of Cessation - called Seudat Mafseket - before the Yom Kippur fast. Many families eat a meat meal for lunch, and then a hi-carb dairy dinner directly before the fast. The meat menu includes low-salt vegetable soup, kreplach (stuffed meat dumplings), breaded chicken, potatoes and dessert. The dairy menu includes egg soufflé, whole wheat bagels with various spreads and fruit salad.
Kosher foods do not immediately guarantee that food is free from foodborne pathogens. When creating your shopping list, be sure to select pasteurized dairy products. Pasteurized dairy products like cream cheese, help you and your family avoid pathogens like Listeriosis and Campylobacter. These dangerous pathogens can be found in unpasteurized dairy products.
Because kreplach often contain meat, if they are handled improperly they can become a food safety risk. You should observe the following food safety tips when purchasing, preparing or cooking meat dumplings.
- When purchasing pre-made dumplings, read the storage instruction to be sure you can keep them properly. Some come frozen and others should be refrigerated.
- When cooking dumplings on your own, remember to cook them thoroughly until the internal temperature reaches at least 165 ˚F. Check multiple dumplings so you have a representative sample of the items you are cooking
By following these steps and you, your family, and your guests will have food safe High Holy Days. Tzom kal (this phrase is used to wish someone well for Yom Kippur)!