February 2012 Archive
Stomaching Valentine's Day
So... I am back! Yay! We at City-County Health had quite the hustle at the end of last year and things like the blog fell by the wayside once again. I think I am almost fully recovered from it-- I think. :-) But-- good news: I am giving up two programs this year to focus more on the newsletter, FoodLine, food safety training, plan review, and the blog! I am quite excited.
Now onto the meat and potatoes! Another "holiday" is almost upon us. Yes, that day hated by many singles and forgotten by many a significant other: Valentine's Day. I won't tell you my opinion on the day, only that I save a personal day every year so that I don't have to observe others getting flowers and smiling in order to spend it at home cooking, baking, and putting away my Christmas tree (a task that depresses me, might as well get it all done in one day)... and yes, rum may be involved. Which, cooking and baking-- brings me to my point: Valentine's Day is no time to slack on food safety. Ah ha! See how I brought that right back around??? Face it. Nothing would make the day any worse, or for those of you with spectacular plans, nothing would damper the romance more than getting a foodborne illness. Yes, you can prevent having a sh--, ummm... crappy, Valentine's Day.
Here are my Valentine's food safety tips to make stomaching the day a little easier:
1. Be an educated date. Look through our food safety inspection database to choose a restaurant that suits your tastes both in cuisine and practice. Overall, Missoula food establishments do a great job, but knowing the ins and outs of where you are going never hurts. Also remember to look at several inspections for each establishment. Inspections are just snapshots, and everyone can have a bad day. It's the repeated concerns noted by inspectors that tells you more about how a place operates. When looking at reports make sure that you make the distinction between the critical items, or the ones more likely to lead to illness, and the non-critical items, or the items that may indirectly influence food safety.
2. If you take any of your dinner home, and cannot put it in the refrigerator within 2 hours, discard it.
3. If you are going to be an awesome date and cook for your significant other, make sure that you follow the following basic food safety tips at home:
* Wash hands with warm water and soap prior to handling food and between raw meat or eggs and ready-to-eat items.
*Keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat items at all times. Separate them in the cart or basket when shopping; store raw meat below ready-to-eat items like veggies in the refrigerator; and, clean counters, cutting boards, knives, etcetera that you used on raw items before using them for ready-to-eat foods. If you have a sanitizer available for surfaces, great!
*Temp raw meats to ensure a minimum cooking temperature: 165F for chicken and turkey, 155F for ground beef and pork, and 145F for whole cuts of beef or pork.
*If your date is late, keep cold foods in the refrigerator, or hot on the stove or in the oven.
*Chill anything leftover, and if you make anything in advance of the dinner, make sure that it was properly cooled before you use it.
So there you go... have a good Valentine's Day and be food safety savvy. I will be doing the same in my kitchen at home as I bake up treats while sipping some Cap'n and singing to Etta James.
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