Summer Food Safety Can Save A Week of the Collywobbles.

Recently there was a mild bout of tummy troubles in our home that made me think about food safety.  The illness only affected hubby and me, so I wondered if it was something we had eaten.  The next question was, what had we eaten that Princess Destructo hadn't?  I went to the fridge and peered inside to fish out the culprit.  Light bulb moment!  On a recent trip to do some grocery shopping I had an impulsive craving for potato salad.  So, purchased a small tub, and walked home with it.  It's only a 15 minute walk, but it was a really warm day.  That salad became a snack shared by hubby and me on Friday night, and so we also shared the collywobbles.  At least, that's what I think was the cause. Sometimes you never really find the source of illness.  So with the warmer days here for SUMMER, I thought it might be time to review some food safety tips.

Keep Cold Things Cold!

  • Bring insulated cooler bags and reusable ice packs on shopping trips. Since I thought I was supposed to be walking to the store for bread, I only had my reusable fabric shopping bag.
  • Shop for perishables last. Did you know that refrigerated items should be brought home and put in your fridge within 30 minutes of leaving the store cooling units?
  • Check packaging and expiry dates. I've noticed that my local store will give amazing deals on meat, and then I find that it is expiring the next day. It may still be safe to buy, but it will need to go into the freezer immediately. Check cans to see if they are dent and bulge free? Are boxes closed? Are bags sealed?

Leftovers deserve their own category because most people have their own ideas on how long to hang onto food.  This chart gives more information on how long to keep food, leftovers included.  I generally only make enough food for one meal, unless I have a specific goal on how to use the leftovers.  If I make a chicken on Friday afternoon, it is eaten or tossed by Sunday.  I am pretty squeamish about this, and would rather toss it then play roulette with food poisoning.

Food Storage:

  • Store raw meats separately from produce and other foods eaten raw.  My meats go in sealable plastic bags and into the lowest shelf of my fridge.
  • Store food at the proper temperature.  Your fridge should be 3 or 4 degrees Celsius (that's 40 degrees Fahrenheit).  Don't assume the thermostat in working, invest in a thermometer.  They are fairly inexpensive and can clip on a shelf for easy viewing.

Bacteria grow most rapidly in the “Danger Zone,” the range of temperatures between 40 and 140 °F. Some harmful bacteria can double in number in as little as 20 minutes. A refrigerator set at 40 °F or below will protect most foods.
Quote extracted from Refrigeration and Food Safety, 06/20/11

Defrost frozen foods in the fridge, or in the microwave.  And cook it to proper internal temperature.  I have a few friends that like to live on the wild side and defrost their meat on the counter while at work for the day, then cook it up when they get home ten hours later.  I'm sorry but that gives me the heeby geebys!

Food Preparation:

  • Wash hands before prep begins, and after handling raw meats and eggs.  
  • Wash and disinfect work surfaces, cutting boards and utensils after contacting raw meat and eggs. Swap to a clean platter and tongs after putting your meat in the pan or on your BBQ.
  • Cook foods to proper internal temperature.  Invest in a proper food thermometer, mine cost $10 and I've had it for 8 years.  It saves me from chopping up every steak and roast to play the "Is it done game." 

Food Temperature:
Here are the food temp. guidelines according to the chart that came with my thermometer:

  • Beef roasts and steaks- 150 F, 
  • Ground beef /burgers- 165 F, 
  • Poultry- 170 F, 
  • Pork- 170 F.
Update after post: New Canadian Guidelines for safe food temperatures.
Beef, veal and lamb (pieces and whole cuts)  - medium-rare63°C (145°F)
Beef, veal and lamb (pieces and whole cuts)  - medium71°C (160°F)
Beef, veal and lamb (pieces and whole cuts)  - well done77°C (170°F
Pork (pieces and whole cuts)71°C (160°F)
Poultry (e.g. chicken, turkey, duck)  - pieces74°C (165°F)
Poultry - whole85°C (185°F)
Ground meat and meat mixtures (e.g. burgers, sausages, meatballs, meatloaf, casseroles)  - beef, veal, lamb and pork71°C (160°F)
Ground meat and meat mixtures - poultry74°C (165°F)
Egg dishes74°C (165°F)
Others (hot dogs, stuffing and leftovers)74°C (165°F)

Other information on Food Safety:
Health Canada/ Guidelines for many types of food safety questions.
Public Health Agency/ Recalls and Alerts.
Food Safety. gov/USDA Guidelines for food safety.
Consumers Union/More food safety tips, including picnic and BBQ events.

Original post date June 21, 2011. Updated by adding photos and Leftover Food Chart.
Image Credits: Food Safety Chart, Ice Cream Scoops, Ice Cubes


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Ann Jones said…
I dont know about Canada, but the FDA now has a lower temp for pork, it's 145 and a 3 minute rest for everything but ground pork which is 160. I always followed the old temps and got frustrated that my pork was always tough, with the new temps the pork turns out great! Great post, I am super obsessive about food safety, I even grind all my own meat :) New follower from the Get Wired Hop, look forward to your future posts!
Mimi said…
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Mimi said…
I looked for new food temps and yes the pork temp has been lowered in Canada too. It is okay to have an internal temp of 160 F, not 170 F as listed on my thermometer guide (which is 8 years old). I personally couldn't eat pork that was only cooked to 145 F.

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