September means the start of the football season and it is also Food Safety Awareness Month. Whether it is a tailgate party with 80,000 of their closest friends or just a small gathering at home, millions of Americans will be enjoying their favorite foods while they cheer on their favorite teams. Central Racine County Health Department would like to offer some tips to partygoers and hosts to avoid committing food safety penalties.
Illegal Use of the Hands – Unclean hands are one of the biggest culprits for spreading bacteria and viruses, and finger foods at parties are especially vulnerable. Food preparers and guests should wash their hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Remember to wash your children’s hands too.
Offsides – Think of your party food as two different teams, uncooked and ready-to-eat foods. Prevent one team from encroaching on the other at all costs. Keep the two teams in separate zones. The juices from raw meat can contain harmful bacteria that could cross-contaminate other food. Use one cutting board for raw meat and poultry and another one for preparing vegetables and other ready-to-eat foods. If you use only one cutting board, prepare the vegetables and ready-to-eat foods first then wash the cutting board in hot soapy water before and after preparing the raw meats.
Getting to the End Zone – Make sure all of your food is thoroughly cooked. You’ll be sure to score when you use a thermometer to check food temperatures. Meat and poultry including chicken wings, sausages and hamburgers, should be cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7. Cook your raw foods to the following internal temperatures or higher:
• Poultry 165°F
• Ground beef and sausages 155°F
• Steaks and chops 145°F.
Holding – Prevent harmful bacteria and viruses from multiplying and running up the score by holding your food at the right temperatures. Keep all of your cold food at 40°F or less and all of your hot food at 135°F or more. You can achieve these temperatures by using slow cookers, roasters, refrigerators and ice. If you do keep your food at room temperature be sure to discard it after it has been out for more than two hours.
Follow these rules to avoid committing food safety penalties and enjoy the games.
Visit our website at www.crchd.com to find links to other food safety information as well as links to food safety inspection reports for local food establishments.