Resolutions for a food safe 2015

Pick from one of these 13 New Year’s resolutions to keep yourself healthy in the New Year.

New Year’s resolutions are things we intend to keep every year. How many of yours from 2014 have become habit? Here are some resolutions to help you stay “food safe” during the New Year:

  1. Buy and use a food thermometer. It’s the only way to know if meat, poultry and fish are cooked safely. You can’t tell just by looking. If you don’t have one, ask for one this holiday season.
  2. Use an appliance thermometer. The refrigerator temperature should be 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. In the freezer, make sure the thermometer reads at zero degree or below. Bacteria grow rapidly at temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Check your thermometers often.
  3. Do not leave pizza sitting out on the table or the “doggie” bag in the car overnight. Food should not be left out more than two hours at room temperature, or one hour if the temperature is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. When in doubt, throw it out.
  4. Do not defrost a turkey in the garage or in the trunk of your car. The only safe way to defrost food is in the refrigerator, in cold running water or in the microwave. If you defrost food in the microwave you must cook the food immediately. Read the steps to safely defrost a turkey in the Michigan State University Extension article titled How to thaw the holiday turkey safely.
  5. Wash your hands and all food preparation surfaces with soap and water before and after touching raw meat, poultry or fish. Bacteria on raw meat, fish or poultry can contaminate other foods such as bread or lettuce that may sit nearby and will not be cooked.
  6. Do not feed your dog or cat “leftovers” or “take-out” food that’s no longer fit for people. Animals can also get foodborne illnesses. Follow the same rules for animals as you would yourself.
  7. Don’t leave “take-out” or “ready-to-eat” food in the refrigerator until it’s forgotten. You can’t always tell by looking at, or smelling if a food is unsafe. Never taste a food if you don’t know what it is or how long it has been in the refrigerator.
  8. Do not lick the spoon or the bowl of homemade cookie dough or cake batter made with raw eggs. Salmonella is a very unpleasant and potentially dangerous illness that can come from eating raw eggs – even one taste of raw dough that contains harmful bacteria could make you sick.
  9. When grilling outdoors, use a clean plate for the cooked meat. Hamburgers, hot dogs or other meat or fish leak raw, uncooked juice. Juices from raw meat, poultry or fish can contaminate your cooked food, causing a serious cause of foodborne illness.
  10. Separate cooked foods from uncooked foods when preparing a meal. Use separate cutting boards and knives. Cross could cause harmful bacteria from one food to be transferred to another food.
  11. Put an ice pack in your child’s lunch box (or yours). If it’s a perishable lunch containing meat, poultry, fish, milk or eggs it needs to be properly preserved. Food in lunch boxes sitting in warm classrooms or offices could result in foodborne illness.
  12. Do not “save money” by buying dented cans or cracked jars. Never use food from containers that are leaking, bulging or badly dented. Do not use food from cracked jars or those with loose or bulging lids, canned food with a foul odor or any container that spurts liquid when you open it. It’s not worth taking a risk to save a few pennies.
  13. Put meat and poultry packages in plastic bags provided at the supermarket before putting them in the grocery cart. Leaking packages from meat or poultry would contaminate other foods in the cart, leading to foodborne illnesses.

Pick one or all of these resolutions for a healthy New Year. Your choices can prevent foodborne illness. If you have a question about food safety call the United States Department of Agriculture meat and poultry hotline toll-free at 1-800-535-4555, your local MSU Extension office or 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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