December 1, 2013 was World AIDS Day and while the connection between HIV/AIDS (Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) and food safety may not seem obvious, it’s actually crucial. People with HIV/AIDS) are highly susceptible to many types of infection, including those can be brought on by the disease-causing bacteria and other pathogens that cause foodborne illness.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) points out that a healthy, functioning immune system works to clear infection and other foreign agents from your body. When the Human Immunodeficiency Virus that causes AIDS damages or destroys the body’s immune system, people with the condition become highly vulnerable to infection. Especially for people with HIV/AIDS, food that is not handled safely can be the route for infections that result in lengthy illnesses, hospitalizations, or even death. This increased risk underscores the critical role safe food handling plays in managing HIV/AIDS.
Making Wise Food Choices
Some foods are more risky for people with HIV/AIDS than others. In general, the foods that are most likely to contain harmful bacteria or viruses fall into two categories:
- Uncooked fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Some animal products, such as unpasteurized (raw) milk; soft cheeses made with raw milk; and raw or undercooked eggs, raw meat, raw poultry, raw fish, raw shellfish and their juices; luncheon meats and deli-type salads (without added preservatives) prepared on site in a deli-type establishment.
The risk these foods may actually pose depends on the origin or source of the food and how the food is processed, stored, and prepared.
For practical guidance to safe selection and preparation of foods for people with HIV/AIDS, the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have prepared a free downloadable booklet called Food Safety for People with HIV/AIDS. It is also available free by calling 1-888-MPHOTLINE (1-888-674-6854) or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow the Four Basic Steps to Food Safety
Anyone who has HIV/AIDS or who prepares food for people with the condition should also carefully follow these steps:
- CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often. Bacteria can be spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, cutting boards, utensils, counter tops and food.
- SEPARATE: Separate raw meats from other foods. Cross-contamination can occur when bacteria are spread from one food product to another. This is especially common when handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. The key is to keep these foods—and their juices—away from ready-to-eat foods.
- COOK to the right temperatures. Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause illness.
- CHILL foods promptly. Cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Use an appliance thermometer to be sure the refrigerator temperature is 40ºF or below and the freezer temperature is 0ºF or below.
A Safety Checklist for Mail-Order Foods
- Make sure the company sends perishable items, like meat or poultry, cold or frozen and packed with a cold source. It should be packed in foam or heavy corrugated cardboard.
- The food should be delivered as quickly as possible — ideally,overnight. Make sure perishable items and the outer package are labeled "Keep Refrigerated" to alert the recipient.
- When you receive a food item marked "Keep Refrigerated," open it immediately and check its temperature. The food should arrive frozen or partially frozen with ice crystals still visible or at least refrigerator cold—below 40 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
- Even if a product is smoked, cured, vacuum-packed, and/or fully cooked, it still is a perishable product and must be kept cold. If perishable food arrives warm — above 40 °F as measured with a food thermometer — notify the company. Do not consume the food. Do not even taste it.
- Alert the recipient that "the gift is in the mail" so someone can be there to receive it. Don't have perishable items delivered to an office unless you know it will arrive on a work day and there is refrigerator space available for keeping it cold.
A Safety Checklist for Perishable Foods Prepared at Home and Mailed
- Ship in a sturdy box.
- Pack with a cold source, i.e., frozen gel packs or dry ice.
- When using dry ice:
- Don't touch the dry ice with bare hands.
- Don't let it come in direct contact with food.
- Warn the recipient of its use by writing "Contains Dry Ice" on the outside of the box.
- Wrap box in two layers of brown paper.
- Use permanent markers to label outside of the box. Use recommended packing tape.
- Label outside clearly; make sure address is complete and correct.
- Write "Keep Refrigerated" on outside of the box.
- Alert recipient of its expected arrival.
- Do not send to business addresses or where there will not be adequate refrigerator storage.
- Do not send packages at the end of the week. Send them at the beginning of the week so they do not sit in the post office or mailing facility over the weekend.
- Whenever possible, send foods that do not require refrigeration, e.g., hard salami, hard cheese, country ham.
For more information including a diagram of how to pack a perishable food items visit our fact sheet Mail-Order Food Safety.
(This was originally posted in December 2011.)
The need for speed. Lack of oven space. Family traditions. Power outages.
All are reasons many cooks might look for ways to roast a whole turkey outside the usual oven. Consider the following methods suggested by the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline.
But first, a message about food safety.
No matter which method you choose to get your turkey to the table, have a food thermometer handy so you can make sure the turkey has reached the safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F in the innermost part of the thigh, wing and the thickest part of the breast. If your turkey is stuffed, the center of the stuffing should also reach 165 °F. After cooking, let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving.
Outdoor Methods (from fastest to slowest)
NOTE: DO NOT stuff turkeys cooked by these outdoor methods. Also make sure the turkey is completely thawed. Follow the appliance manufacturer’s directions.
Deep Fat Turkey Fryer
Size of turkey: 12 to 15 pounds. Cooking time: 3 to 5 minutes per pound. Requires 2 ½ to 3 gallons of oil. The appliance should be large enough to hold the turkey without the oil spilling over. Measure the capacity of the fryer first by placing the raw turkey in the cold fryer and filling it with water, which should cover the turkey by 1 to 2 inches. Remove the turkey and measure the amount of water in the fryer. Use that amount of oil and preheat the fryer until the oil reaches 350 °F before submerging the turkey.
Infrared Oil-less Turkey Fryer
Cooking time: approximately 10 minutes per pound. Size of turkey: 16 pounds or smaller. This appliance comes in either an electric or a gas version that must be connected to a 20-pound propane tank.
“Big Green Egg” (Ceramic Egg-shaped Cooker)
Size of turkey: 12 pounds. Cooking time: approximately 12 to 13 minutes per pound. Use only lump charcoal and always cook with the lid closed. Set the cooker temperature to 350 °F.
Covered Gas or Charcoal Grill
Size of turkey: 12 to 15 pounds. Cooking time: approximately 15 to 18 minutes per pound. Place a pan of water under the grate to insure indirect heat, catch the turkey drippings, and prevent flame-ups. If the grill has two or three burners, turn off a burner and place the turkey away from the flame for indirect cooking.
Size of turkey: 12 to 15 pounds. Cooking time: approximately 25 to 30 minutes per pound. A smoker may be electric or charcoal. Cooking times depend on the size and shape of the turkey and the outside air temperature. Make sure that the smoker maintains an internal temperature of 225 °F to 300 °F.
Indoor Methods (fastest)
Cooking Size of turkey: 12 to 14 pounds. Cooking time: approximately 9 minutes per pound on 50% (medium) power level. Use an oven cooking bag for more even cooking. Rotate the turkey every 15 minutes. Timing can vary because microwave ovens vary in wattage. Do not stuff the turkey. Cook stuffing in a separate casserole.
Oven Size of turkey: 12 to 20 pounds. Cooking time: approximately 3 to 4 ½ hours. Add 30 minutes for stuffed turkeys. Generally, the cooking time and oven temperature setting in this tabletop appliance are the same as for conventional cooking. Set the roaster temperature to 325 °F. Do not lift the lid during cooking or it will increase the cooking time.
If your electricity goes off while you are cooking a turkey indoors, you can transfer the turkey immediately to an outdoor appliance, and continue cooking it until safely done.
Questions? Ask Karen, the virtual food safety representative, is available 24/7 at AskKaren.gov. Weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET, the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline is available at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). On Thanksgiving Day, the Hotline will be open from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm Eastern Time. Happy Thanksgiving! - See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2013/11/25/theres-more-than-one-way-to-cook-a-turkey/#