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Food safety tips

Holiday Food Safety

Here come the holidays! November is here which means Thanksgiving is on the horizon. As you begin to think about your Thanksgiving plans and feasts, it is also important to remember proper food handling techniques when it comes to shopping, preparing, cooking, and storing your food.

From the store to the table to your refrigerator, there are plenty opportunities for contamination or spoiling. Heed these food safety tips as you prepare for the holidays.

BEFORE

  • When shopping, separate your groceries. Raw poultry, meats, and seafood should be kept away from other foods as much as possible. The easiest way to prevent cross contamination is to place these items in separate bag (your own reusable bags or those provided by the store). Also, perishable items such as meat and poultry should be put in your cart last to prevent them from sitting at room temperature while you gather other items.
  • Buy the right bird. If you’re shopping in advance, opt for a frozen bird to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. If you prefer serving a fresh turkey, buy your bird within two days of your Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Shop and drop. It may be tempting to run errands after grocery shopping, but to keep your food and your loved ones safe, it’s best to go straight home to properly unload and store your foods.

Depending on how long you leave your food in the car and the temperature, dangerous microorganisms can contaminate for food.

  • Defrost safely. When it comes to defrosting a turkey safely, there are three options: in the refrigerator, cold water, or the microwave.
  • Refrigerator thawing is the best method since it will defrost at a consistent and safe temperature and all you have to do is keep it in the fridge. It does, however, take the longest time. The typical rule of thumb is 24 hours for every 5 pounds, thus, a 15 lb. turkey will take 3 days to thaw.
  • To thaw in cold water, keep your turkey in its original wrapping and submerge it in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes. The general rule is 30 minutes per pound, therefore, a 15lb. turkey will take 7.5 hours and 15 water changes to thaw. While this method takes less time, it requires more attention since you must regularly change the water.
  • Worst case scenario – you forgot to defrost the turkey! You may use your microwave to defrost your turkey. Please refer to your owner’s manual for instructions on microwave defrosting.

If there’s anything you take away from this, let it be to defrost in advance. A thawed turkey can be kept in the fridge (40°F or below) for up to 4 days.

THANKSGIVING DAY

If you’ve got more than one cook in the kitchen, be sure to review these with everyone who is helping out.

  • Wash your hands, not the bird. Instead of helping to get rid of bacteria, the splashing water helps to spread it to other areas (ex. sinks, food prepping surfaces) up to three feet away. The better way to prevent cross contamination is by washing your hands before and after handling raw poultry, meat, or seafood.
  • One of the Thanksgiving foods most susceptible to foodborne illness is stuffing. If your stuffing does not reach an internal temperature of 165°F, harmful bacteria can survive within it. Be sure that immediately after prep, you place the stuffed bird into an oven set for 325°F or higher and use a food thermometer to ensure that not only the bird, but the stuffing as well, reaches the safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Dressing is what they call it when you prepare stuffing outside of a turkey and is generally safer than stuffing. However, cooks must still be aware of food safety. If you are using raw meat, poultry, or shellfish, precook these raw ingredients separately and then incorporate it into your dish.
  • Cook to the right temperature. The only way to determine if meat, poultry or seafood is cooked safely is to check the internal temperature with a food thermometer. Whole turkeys should register 165°F in three locations – the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing, and the thickest part of the breast.

LEFTOVERS

We all love Thanksgiving leftovers, but if not properly stored after dinner, they can potentially make us sick. Although you may be in a food coma, fight the urge to nap until you have packed your leftover food properly.

  • Refrigerate uneaten food within two hours of cooking to prevent bacteria growth. Try to use shallow containers to decrease cooling time and prevent food from spending too much time at unsafe temperatures (40°F to 140°F). In regards to the turkey, cut the meat off the bone before storing, and pack the stuffing separately from the meat.
  • BYOC (Bring Your Own Cooler). Because Thanksgiving feasts are often plentiful, refrigerator space is hard to come by. Come prepared with your own cooler from home and maintain a packed cooler at a safe temperature (40°F or below).
  • Leftovers last safely for four days in the refrigerator. If you need at least a week before eating Thanksgiving food again, pack your leftovers into airtight containers and freeze them.
  • If you are sending guests home with leftovers and you know they will be travelling for more than two hours, give them ice or frozen gel packs to ensure the food in their coolers stays at or below 40°F.

With only three weeks until Thanksgiving, you might want to start thinking about your menu and guest list. If you need some pinspiration, feel free to check out our Thanksgiving Pinterest Board. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

In the meantime, let us do the dirty work for you. Come in for a yummy breakfast or lunch six days a week – visit BrickMarketDeli.com for more information.

Summer Food Safety

With Memorial Day weekend nearly upon us, most of us are anticipating a fun-filled summer. Days spent outside enjoying picnics and barbecues under the warm summer sun. Despite the carefree nature of it all, food safety becomes a top priority, as cooking and eating outdoors can pose many potential risks. Because warm weather tends to speed up bacterial growth, and proper cooling and washing facilities are not as readily available outside, instances of food borne illnesses tend to increase over the summer.

To keep your risk of food poisoning low, here are some helpful food safety tips for outdoor cooking.

Planning & Packing

  • Only take the amount of food you will actually use.
  • Refrigerated foods should be packed into a cooler immediately before leaving home.
  • Non-cooler items include: whole fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, trail mix, canned meat spreads and peanut butter and jelly (once canned items are opened, store in cooler).
  • Don’t have an insulated cooler?
  • Freezing sandwiches (sans lettuce and tomatoes) beforehand.
  • Fill clean empty milk cartons or bottles with water and freeze to make ice, or freeze gel-packs.
  • Freeze any boxed drinks you may be bringing to supplement as freezer packs.

The Time Out Rule

  • Perishable food should not sit out for more than two hours. In hot weather (90°F and up), food should NEVER sit out for more than one hour.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers.
  • Do NOT thaw frozen items outside the refrigerator or without being submerged in cold water.
  • It’s best to cook meat, poultry, etc. completely at the picnic site, rather than partially or precooking ahead of time.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
  • After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served (140°F or warmer). Keep food hot by setting it to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook.
  • Plan to keep hot foods hot with a thermos or insulated dish.
  • Serve cold food in small portions, and keep the rest in the cooler.
  • Keep these foods cold: raw meat, poultry, and seafood, deli and luncheon meats or sandwiches, summer salads (tuna, chicken, egg, pasta, or seafood), cut up fruit and vegetables, and perishable dairy products.

Keep It Clean

  • When transporting raw meat or poultry, double wrap and place the packages in plastic bags to prevent juices from the raw product dripping on other foods. Always avoid raw meat juices touching other foods to avoid cross contamination.
  • Store food in watertight containers to prevent contact with melting ice water.
  • Always wash your hands before and after handling food.
  • If there’s no source of clean water, bring water for preparation and cleaning. Or pack clean cloths and moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
  • Don’t forget to pack paper towels.

Keep It Cool

  • Pack foods in reverse order. First foods packed should be the last foods used.

Exception: Pack raw meat or poultry below ready-to-eat foods to prevent cross contamination (as you would in your refrigerator).

  • Keep your cooler full as it will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one.
  • Limit the times the cooler is opened. Open and close the lid quickly. Consider packing drinks in a separate cooler so the food cooler is not opened frequently.
  • For long trips take along two coolers – one for the days immediate food needs, such as lunch, drinks or snacks, and the other for perishable foods to be used later in the trip.
  • When camping or at a park, keep the cooler in a shady spot covered with a blanket, tarp or poncho (preferably one that is light in color to reflect heat). At the beach, partially bury the cooler in the sand, cover it with blankets, and shade it with a beach umbrella.
  • In a pinch, a heavy cardboard box lined with plastic bags and packed with frozen gel packs or ice will keep things cold.

Separate But Equal

  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat and ready-to-eat items like vegetables and bread.
  • Never reuse items that touched raw meat or poultry to serve the food once it is cooked.
  • Always use a fresh, clean plate and tongs for serving cooked food.

Temperature Matters

  • Completely thaw meat, poultry and fish before grilling so it cooks more evenly.
  • Cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria.
  • Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature and clean it between uses.

Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures:

  • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, and ground poultry: 165°F
  • Ground meats: 160°F
  • Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145°F and allow to rest at least 3 minutes
  • Reheat any leftover food to 165°F
  • Heat hot dogs to steaming hot

At Home

  • If using a cooler, leftover perishable food is safe only if the cooler still has ice or frozen packs in it and the food didn’t sit out longer than previously mentioned.
  • Discard unsafe leftover food or immediately store food deemed safe in the refrigerator.

We hope you find these food safety tips helpful. Feel free to share your own tips with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!

We’ve got plenty of choices to please your taste buds so come on down to the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli for your yummy sandwich fix! Join us weekdays from 7:00am-4:00pm and Saturdays 8:00am-4:30pm.

Food Safety For Outdoor Cooking

The official start of summer is just around the corner! The weather is heating up, which means you’ll likely spend more time cooking outdoors. However, cooking outdoors with the warmer temperatures can create an unsafe environment for your food. Here are some food safety tips to keep you and your guests from falling ill.

Produce

  • Be aware of any food recalls before you start shopping.
  • Even if you will be peeling or discarding the skin, it is important to always wash your fruits and vegetables. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend using a brush to scrub harder produce (ex. melons, cucumbers).
  • Avoid cross contamination by keeping your fruits and vegetables away from raw meat.
  • Be sure to properly store your produce before cooking. Refrigerator temperature should be set to 40°F or lower, and the freezer should be set to 0°F or lower to help prevent spoiling.

Meat

  • Save your raw meats and poultry for last at the grocery store. This ensures that they stay cooler longer.
  • Again, avoid cross contamination by bagging raw meats separately.
  • After handling raw meat, wash hands immediately and clean your workstations.
  • Discard packaging that came in contact with raw meat, and keep other foods separate so raw meat juices do not contaminate the other foods.
  • Invest in a meat thermometer. Your goal should be to reach these temperatures:
    • 145°F for whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal, plus fish as well
    • 160°F for hamburgers and ground beef
    • 165°F for all poultry and pre-cooked meats (ex. hot dogs)

Grill

  • Keep grill clean. Watch for bristles from wire brushes that may get stuck on the grill and, consequently, can get stuck in your food.
  • If you cooked any meat ahead of time, be sure to reheat the meat to at least 165°F.
  • Remember – grilling meat at high temps can create carcinogenic chemicals. It is advised that you eat grilled meat in moderation. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that processed meats in general are carcinogens and that red meat is likely a carcinogen, too.

Leftovers

  • According to the CDC, any pre-cooked or ready to eat foods should be eaten as soon as possible.
  • Your deli meat shouldn’t sit longer than five days in the refrigerator.
  • If you have an opened package of hot dogs, you should use it within a week.
  • The CDC also recommends that leftovers in general should be eaten within four days.

Are you planning any backyard cookouts this summer? Any cooking tips you want to share? Connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can also find us on Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest.

Visit us and enjoy the warmer weather on our patio. Or you can take our food to go and find a nice picnic spot. Stop by weekdays between 10:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays 10:30am-4:30pm. Want to avoid the line? Go to www.BrickMarketDeli.com and order online!