Safety and Seasonal Food Tips


Illness causing bacteria can survive in many places in your kitchen. Unless you are cleaning properly, you could be spreading these bacteria to your food and family. 
  • Washing hands 
    • Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds
    • Wet hands with soap and water; apply soap.
    • Make lather. Be sure to scrub back of hands, wrists, between fingers, and under nails. 
    • Rinse your hands well. 
    • Dry with clean towel or drying device. 
    • Use drying towel to turn off faucet and dispose.
  • Washing surfaces 
    • Use paper towels or clean towels to wipe up spills. Wash towels in hot water cycle often. 
    • Wash all kitchen items including counters with hot soapy water in between each item. 
    • To sanitize: use 1 teaspoon unscented liquid bleach in one gallon warm water. 
  • Washing foods 
    • Cut out any damaged or bruised areas. 
    • Rinse produce under running water; do not use any type of soap or detergent. 
    • Use a produce brush to scrub firm produce. 
    • If a product is marked "pre-washed" it is safe to use without additional washing. 
    • NOTE: It is important to wash your fruits and vegetables before cutting since bacteria on the outside can be carried to the inside.
    • NOTE: Washing meat, poultry, and commercial eggs can held the spread of bacteria. 
  • Separate while preparing
    • Use a separate cutting board for produce and one for raw meat. poultry, or seafood.
    • Use separate utensils for cooked and raw foods. 
    • Before reusing an item, be sure to wash with soap and warm water thoroughly. 
    • NOTE: when cutting board gets warn and has deep grooves, consider replacing. Bacteria and live in the grooves even after cleaning. 
  • Separate while shopping 
    • Be sure to separate your raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from all other foods in your cart. 
    • At checkout, be sure meats are put in plastic bags to avoid their juices from dripping. 
  • Separate while storing 
    • Place  raw meat, poultry, and seafood in plastic containers to keep juices from leaking onto other items. If you are not going to use food for a few days, freeze items instead. 
    • Keep eggs in the original carton and store in the main compartment, not in the door. 
  • Use a food thermometer
    • Use a food thermometer for all meats. Color and texture do not indicate a finished product.
    • To temp your food, choose the thickest part of the food. Be sure not to hit any bone, fat, or gristle. 
    • Wait the appropriate time for your thermometer to read the final temperature. 
    • Compare your final temperature to a minimum cooking chart for temperatures. 
    • Clean your thermometer after each use with hot soapy water.
  • Do not over pack your refrigerator to allow air flow.
  • Refrigerator should be about 32-40 degrees F.
  • Perishable foods should be placed into the refrigerator/freezer within 2 hours. In the summer months food should be stored within an hour.
  • Separate food into several shallow metal pans to chill rapidly. Do not place lids on food until item is cooled.
  • Use food thermometer to check temperature.

Bye-Bye Bacteria

Cleaning of all surfaces should be done by means of sanitizing. This can be done with heat, like a dishwasher, or with a chemical. The two most common sanitizers are chlorine (bleach) and quaternary ammonia. Before sanitizing, you must properly wash with a detergent and then rinse the item. Sanitizing is the last step. The contact time, the time the item needs to be completely soaked in the sanitizer, is usually 60 seconds and up. It is best to let items area dry to allow even more contact time. Be careful you are not disinfecting. What is the difference you ask? Sanitizing kills 99.99% of bacteria in a short amount of time, usually 60 seconds. Disinfecting is when all organisms will be destroyed in about 10 minutes. Chemical poisoning can occur when disinfecting. If the surfaces have too much chemical, the chemical will reside long after the needed time and can transfer onto food and food surfaces. It is important to check your chemical concentration each time you make a solution. Generally, 2 teaspoons (tsp) of bleach to one gallon (gal) of lukewarm water. In order to check your concentration you can get testing strips (right photo). The strips test instantly when dipped into the bleach water. Concentration should be anywhere between 50-200ppm or as a quick check, the color purple. If the strip turns black, you have entered the disinfectant range. Pour out water and add clean water until purple is obtained.

Seasonal Food Tips

Keep Your Roasted Chilies Safe!

It’s green chile season in Pueblo! All the local farms are harvesting Pueblo chile, firing up their roasters and chile is in the air.  Since numerous people make green chile and use it all year, it’s likely you will purchase bushels of chile and prepare them for frozen storage. Roasted chiles are a potentially hazardous food and will be hot upon purchase.  It is essential you follow rapid cooling to prepare roasted green chiles for storage. Roasted green chiles must be processed and cooled right away.  Once rapid cooling has been accomplished you can cold hold chiles or freeze them for long-term storage to enjoy all year.

Whether you prefer mild or hot, you can select and process chiles safely to add spice to your meals.  For safety and quality, follow these tips:
  • Roasted chiles should be put in a food-grade plastic bag (not a trash bag), or other food-safe container.
  • Take chiles home in a chilled ice chest within 2 hours of roasting.
  • Within 2 hours of roasting, peppers should be cooled to 70° and then to 41° in an additional 4 hours (cold holding temperature) in an ice bath or refrigerator.  Divide into small batches for quick cooling and use a food thermometer to confirm.
  • To freeze, pack chiles in plastic bags, heavy aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Remove excess air.
  • Freeze chiles to 0°F immediately after packing. Leave a little space between packages for air circulation.
  • Label and date packages.
  • Bacteria can live during freezer storage.  So thaw chiles in a refrigerator! Bacteria can revive, grow and cause an illness.

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.

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