Make sure Grandma’s recipes are safe

If you are using Grandma’s recipes make sure they are still safe. Fifty years ago Campylobacter, Listeria and E. coli weren’t recognized as sources of foodborne disease.

New bacteria have emerged and others have gotten stronger since some of our favorite recipes were developed. Look over your recipes and evaluate them for food safety. Following are four important checkpoints from Michigan State University Extension for you to use when evaluating your recipes so that you are preparing and serving safe food.

Checkpoint 1: Oven temperatures. Use a minimum oven temperature of 325 degrees Fahrenheit for cooking meat, poultry and casseroles that contain meat and poultry. Lower temperatures may not heat the food fast enough to prevent bacteria from growing.

Checkpoint 2: Eggs need to be cooked or substituted for pasteurized eggs. One hundred years ago, an 1898 recipe book by B.J. Kendall, M.D., offered a recipe for egg water to cure vomiting. Today we’d no longer consider giving a sick family member a glass of water mixed with raw eggs. But do you or your children still lick the cake batter from the bowl, taste raw cookie dough or make ice-cream with raw eggs? If so you have the real possibility of getting a foodborne illness.

Checkpoint 3: Meat, poultry and fish must be cooked to the correct internal temperature. Determining if meat is completely cooked by whether it’s brown inside isn’t a reliable indicator of a safe internal temperature.

A few years ago there was a campaign to educate consumers about the importance of cooking ground beef to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The campaign included a poster that showed two burgers, one pink and one brown. “Which is done?” the poster asked. The poster provided the answer: The pink burger had been cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit; the brown burger, to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The only way to really know if it’s done is to use a meat thermometer. A thermometer also helps you avoid overcooking a food and lowering its taste and quality.

Also, as a part of safe food preparation, do not partially cook or brown foods and then finish cooking them later. Any harmful bacteria present will not be destroyed. If you’re partially cooking food in the microwave, in the oven or on the stove top to reduce grilling time, precook it immediately before grilling.

Checkpoint 4: Marinades help flavor foods but do not kill bacteria. If some of the marinade is going to be used as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion of the marinade and do not use it on the raw meat. Always store the marinade it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

When basting, don’t contaminate fully cooked meat and poultry by adding sauce with a brush that has been used on raw or undercooked foods.

If you haven’t looked over your recipes lately to make sure they are food safety safe, it is time to do that now.

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