Thursday, December 20, 2018

Winter Holiday Food Safety

As the end of the year approaches, it’s likely there are multiple meals and parties in your future. Carrying food from one location to another and sharing dishes with a crowd means more opportunity for bacteria to grow and cause food poisoning. Whether you’re an experienced cook, a first-time party host, or simply adding a dish to the potluck lineup, the holidays can make even the most confident chefs nervous. Follow these steps to keep your holiday season food poisoning-free.

Steps to follow during holiday grocery shopping:

  1. Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood away from other foods in your grocery cart.
  2. Buy cold foods last.
  3. Ask the cashier to place your raw meat, poultry, and seafood in a separate bag.

Steps to follow during food preparation:

  1. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and ready-to-eat items like vegetables or bread.
  2. Prepare uncooked recipes before recipes requiring raw meat to reduce cross-contamination. Store them out of the way while preparing meat dishes to ensure they don’t become contaminated after preparation.
  3. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of dishes to ensure they are fully cooked and safe to eat. Fresh beef, pork, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 145 ˚F with a three minute rest time; fish should be cooked to 145 ˚F; ground beef, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 160 ˚F; egg dishes should be cooked to 160 ˚F; and all poultry should be cooked to 165 ˚F.

Fool proof tips when cooking for groups:

  1. Keep hot food hot and cold food cold, using chafing dishes or crock pots and ice trays. Hot items should remain above 140 ˚F and cold items should remain below 40 ˚F.
  2. Use several small plates when serving food.
  3. Discard perishable foods left out for 2 hours or more.

Steps to follow when cooking a holiday roast:

  1. Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils for raw roasts and cooked roasts to avoid cross-contamination.
  2. Wash items such as cutting boards that have touched raw meat with warm water and soap, or place them in a dishwasher.
  3. To ensure the juiciest possible roast this holiday, use a meat thermometer. Once it has reached the USDA recommended internal temperature of 145 ˚F, the roast is safe to eat.
  4. Remember all cuts of pork, beef, veal, and lamb need a three minute rest time before cutting or consuming.

General Information
Mail-Order Food Safety (USDA)
Checklists for ensuring that foods you send and receive by mail are safe.

Chart: Safe Handling of Mail-Order Foods (USDA)
Storage recommendations for mail-order meats, seafood, cheeses, fruits, and more.

Mailing and Receiving a Perishable Food Gift (FDA)
How to be sure that food arrives safely during holiday shipping.

Holiday or Party Buffets (USDA)
When foods are left out for long periods, you may have uninvited guests — bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. Brochure (PDF - 105KB)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Let's Talk Turkey: Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips

The Thanksgiving meal is the largest many cooks prepare each year. Getting it just right, especially the turkey, brings a fair amount of pressure whether or not a host is experienced with roasting one. Follow these tips to make sure your Thanksgiving meal is both delicious and safe to serve.

Steps to follow before cooking a turkey:
·    Read labels carefully. Temperature labels show if the bird is fresh or frozen. If you plan to serve a fresh turkey, purchase it no more than two days before Thanksgiving.
·    Purchase two thermometers: a refrigerator thermometer to ensure the turkey is stored at 40 °F or slightly below and a food thermometer to make sure the cooked turkey reaches a safe 165 °F.
·    Thaw the turkey by using the microwave, the cold water method, or the refrigerator. The refrigerator method is USDA recommended.
Steps to follow when cooking a turkey:
·    Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before touching any food to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness.
·    Do not wash the turkey. This only spreads pathogens onto kitchen surfaces. The only way to kill bacteria that causes foodborne illness is to fully cook the turkey.
·    Keep raw turkey separated from all other foods at all times.
·    Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils when handling raw turkey to avoid cross-contamination. Wash items that have touched raw meat with warm soap and water, or place them in a dishwasher.
·    Cook the turkey until it reaches 165 °F, as measured by a food thermometer. Check the turkey’s temperature by inserting the thermometer in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing.
Steps to follow when consuming leftover Thanksgiving food:
·    Refrigerate leftovers within two hours to prevent bacteria from growing on the food.
·    Store leftovers in shallow pans or containers to decrease cooling time. This prevents the food from spending too much time at unsafe temperatures (between 41 °F to 135 °F).
·    Do not store stuffing inside a leftover turkey. Remove the stuffing from the turkey, and refrigerate the stuffing and the meat separately.
·    Avoid consuming leftovers that have been left in the refrigerator for longer than 3 or 4 days (next Tuesday to be exact). Use the freezer to store leftovers for longer periods of time.
·    Keep leftovers in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs if the food is traveling home with a guest who lives more than two hours away.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

New PPiFS: Buckshot Bar & Grill

Newest Restaurant to meet Exceptional Food Safety Practices in Pueblo

October 30, 2018, Pueblo, CO – The Food Safety Program at the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment is proud to announce the continued growth of the Pueblo Partners in Food Safety program and the newest Partner is Buckshot Bar & Grill.

“We are excited to welcome Buckshot Bar & Grill as the newest Partner to this elite program,” stated Sylvia Proud, public health director at the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment. Proud added, “The Health Department congratulates all restaurants that are Pueblo Partners in Food Safety due to their hard work and dedication to health standards. All restaurants are encouraged to apply; assistance is available with resources for program enrollment, self-assessments, and safe food handler training.”

Health Inspectors (left two) with Buckshot Bar & Grill Restaurant Owners.
The Health Department’s Pueblo Partners in Food Safety recognizes local restaurants with exceptional food safety practices, protocols, and health reports. The program launched in April 2015 with six facilities and has since grown to 84.

“The Pueblo Partners in Food Safety not only recognizes and promotes restaurants and food facilities but is also a tool to develop Active Managerial Control, a system to ensure steps for safe food handling are being followed,” explained Vicki Carlton, food safety program manager at the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment. Carlton added, “Active Managerial Control empowers food handlers to reduce risks and ensure operations remain safe.”

Participating facilities conduct a self-assessment of practices and apply to join the program. The Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment reviews and approves applications, allowing Partners to receive an official window decal for their place of business, a certificate of approval, and public recognition on The Dish of Pueblo website.

Look for the Partners window decal at your favorite restaurant in Pueblo or view the full list online. For more information about the program, food safety news, and view health inspections in Pueblo, visit and like The Dish of Pueblo on Facebook and health department social media.

Current List of Pueblo’s Partner in Food Safety

* Auntie Bev’s Restaurant

* The Buckshot Bar & Grill

* Cactus Flower

* Chick-Fil-A

* Chili’s Grill and Bar

* Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

* Doss Aviation Initial Flight Training

* Estela’s Millstop CafĂ©

* Eurest at Vestas Towers

* GG’s BBQ & Catering

* Gold Dust Saloon

* Noodles & Company

* Olive Garden

* Orange Julius

* Pueblo City Schools (all 33 schools)

* Pueblo County School District 70 (all 20 schools)

* Pueblo Joe’s at Pueblo Community College

* Pueblo SRDA (all 11 feeding sites)

* Red Lobster

* Rocco’s Riverside Deli

* Romero’s Catering

* Schlep’s Sandwiches

* St. Mary Corwin Hospital (Cafeteria)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Tailgate Food Safety Tips

Tailgate Food Safety Tips 
Fall is finally here, and the smell of fresh cut grass on the gridiron is in the air. This is the best time of year for Colorado sports fans, because you can watch the Broncos, Rockies, and even preseason Avalanche Hockey all in one day.
As fans prepare to tailgate, there are a few food safety tips we should all keep in mind. Before you set up your parking lot party:

  • Safety Rule #1 - pour a refreshing libation like an Ol’ Fashioned or Moscow Mule in a copper challis. This will help you enjoy the chore of setup and prevent any stress. Oh, and don’t forget to pack non-alcoholic beverages and water for hydration.
Before we get ahead of ourselves we need to start with a “Game Day Menu Plan”. When it comes to planning the food, everything starts with the menu. When planning the menu, there are a few things to keep in mind. 
  • Pick easy items that have minimal preparation.
  • Utilize seasonal fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold.
  • Keep raw food separate from ready-to-eat food.
  •  Select food that works for eating outdoors.

After planning your menu, start making your Game Day Checklist. The last thing you want to do is run out and buy something after you get your grill and everything set up. There are some items you can pack that will help keep your food safe. For instance, food surface approved cleaning spray with paper towels, food service gloves, food thermometer, ice bath for cold food, food warmer, tongs and spatulas - one dedicated for raw and one for cooked foods. The illustration below is a good reminder of what to bring. 
Thunder Wolves Menu
Grilled Sausage Links - Kielbasa + Chorizo w/ grilled bell peppers and onions
Pueblo Chile + sour cream dip w/ chips + carrots
Dog bone cookies

Broncos Menu
Burgers W/ Pueblo Green Chile Strips
Chuck Wagon Chili Dogs
Mile High Nachos



Monday, August 6, 2018

Back to School Food Safety Tips

Back to school, back to the books, back in the saddle, or back in the car for parents. The new school year means it’s back to packing lunches and after-school snacks for students, scouts, athletes, dancers, and all the other children who carry these items to and from home. One ‘back’ you do not want to reacquaint children with, however, is bacteria.
Bacteria that cause foodborne illness, commonly known as food poisoning, grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. In just two hours, these microorganisms can multiply to dangerous levels, which can cause foodborne illness. To make sure lunches and snacks are safe for those you pack for, follow the four steps to food safety:
1.    Clean
2.    Separate
3.    Cook
4.    Chill.
Before you start preparing lunch:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm or hot water for at least 20 seconds before AND after handling food.
  • Avoid handling cellphones and other electronic devices, mail, keys, and bags during food prep. Keep these items off food preparation and eating surfaces.
  • Always use clean spoons, forks, plates, and cutting boards. Remember to use separate cutting boards – one for fruits and vegetables and the other for meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Remember the 2-Hour rule: you must keep hot foods HOT and cold foods COLD. Meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs (also known as perishables) only last two hours at room temperature of 90° F or below before they are unsafe to eat. If the room temperature exceeds 90° F, the perishables will only last one hour before they must march back into the refrigerator or freezer.

While preparing lunch:

Wash fruits and vegetables with running tap water. Pack only the amount of perishable food that can be eaten at lunchtime. That way, there won’t be a problem scrambling to store leftovers safely.
It’s fine to prepare food the night before, but pack lunch bags before leaving home. Freezing sandwiches helps them stay cold. It’s advised not to freeze sandwiches containing mayonnaise, lettuce, or tomatoes. Add these items later.

Packing Tips

If the lunch/snack contains perishable food items like luncheon meats, eggs, cheese, or yogurt, make sure to pack it with at least two cold sources such as frozen gel packs or frozen bottles of water. Frozen juice boxes can also be used as freezer packs. Freeze these items. By lunchtime, the liquids should be thawed and ready to drink. Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly so perishable food transported without an ice source won't stay safe long. 

DIY Freezer Packs

Pictured above is an easy backup to your ice packs, especially if packing a lot of lunchboxes or filling a big cooler. The idea is simple: Wet individual sponges, squeeze out excess water, drop them in a sealed baggie, and freeze. These packs are less bulky than traditional ones, making them perfect for even the littlest of lunch boxes. 
  •  Pack lunches containing perishable food in an insulated lunchbox or soft-sided lunch bag. Perishable food can be unsafe to eat by lunchtime if packed in a paper bag. 
  •  If packing a hot lunch, like soup, chili or stew, use an insulated container to keep it hot. Fill the container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and put in the piping hot food. Tell children to keep the insulated container closed until lunchtime to keep the food hot at 140° F or above. 
  • If packing a child’s lunch the night before, parents should leave it in the refrigerator overnight. The meal will stay cold longer because everything will be refrigerator temperature when it is placed in the lunchbox.
  • If you’re responsible for packing snacks for the team, troop, or group, keep perishable foods in a cooler with ice or cold packs until snack time. Pack snacks in individual bags or containers, rather than having children share food from one serving dish.
Storage Tips
 If possible, a child’s lunch should be stored in a refrigerator or cooler with ice upon arrival. Leave the lid of the lunchbox or bag open in the fridge so that cold air can better circulate and keep the food cold.
Eating and Disposal Tips
  • Pack disposable wipes for washing hands before and after eating.
  • After lunch, discard all leftover food, used food packaging, and paper bags. Do not reuse packaging as it could contaminate other food and cause foodborne illness.
Follow these tips and you’ll keep bacteria out of your lunchbox! Make sure to share with your loved ones and friends!  


Turkey + Cheddar Roll-up
Fresh Berries
Trail Mix 
Pita Bread
Grape Tomatoes
Sliced Oranges
Cheese Quesadilla
Tortilla Chips
Deli Meat + Cheese Kabobs
Red Pepper Slices
Fruit Leather or Snacks
Hard Boiled Eggs
Baby Carrots + Ranch
Peaches or Applesauce
Pasta Salad
Granola Bar
Almond Butter + Jelly (or PB +J)
String Cheese
Fruit Cup
Cheddar Cheese Cubes
Bagel + Cream Cheese
Yogurt Tube
Baby Carrots
Fruit Snacks
Veggie Wraps with Hummus
Edamame or Snap Peas
Granola Bar