Working safely with meat and fresh vegetables

When using fresh vegetables and meat for chili, soups and stews, cooling properly prevents foodborne illness from Clostridium Perfringens.

With the fresh vegetables becoming more readily available in the spring, chili, soup and stew may be popular recipes. Be sure to not accidentally invite Clostridium Perfringens, a foodborne illness as a guest to the meal table.

Clostridium Perfringens is one of the most common foodborne pathogens. In the United States Clostridium Perfringens is estimated to cause nearly one million cases of foodborne illness each year. Clostridium Perfringens is typically found in raw meat and poultry, which is one reason why it is important to prevent cross-contamination when preparing the chili, soup or stews.

When making chili, soups and stews be sure to start with a clean work space. Wash, rinse and sanitize all work surfaces. Gather the ingredients before the preparations begin. To prevent possible cross-contamination from raw meats, brown the raw meats before adding them to the chili, soup or stew. Another way to prevent cross-contamination is to use separate clean and sanitized knives and cutting boards for chopping and slicing. Using one cutting board for raw meats and a different one for vegetables is another way to prevent cross-contamination.

Cook the chili, soup or stew to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a calibrated thermometer to verify the temperature of the chili, soup or stew.

After serving the chili, soup or stew, divide the large quantity of food in to smaller containers and cool quickly. The food should be cooled to below 41 degrees Fahrenheit within two hours of preparing.

For re-heating the chili, soup or stew, the food should be brought to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before serving. This means if reheating is taking place in the microwave, it will be necessary to reheat and stir frequently until 165 degrees is reached. Reheating to the temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit is necessary to kill possible food borne illness bacterium.

For more on working with fresh vegetables and meats contact a Michigan State University Extension food safety expert in your area.

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