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State Agriculture Commissioner reminds Georgians of important safety tips

By   /   February 1, 2013  /   Comments

Special to the Journal

Atlanta, Ga – Regardless of whether you plan to root for the Ravens or the 49-ers on Sunday, chances are you’re one of millions of Americans with plans to watch the 47th annual Super Bowl game. Super Bowl Sunday is the second highest day of food consumption in the nation after Thanksgiving and this year, Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) Commissioner Gary W. Black reminds partygoers and hosts alike on how to avoid ending up on the “injured reserve list.”

“Gathering with family and friends for a Super Bowl party is an American tradition, but you don’t want to have any food safety fouls,” Black said. “Make sure you referee a safe spread of snacks for your family, your guests and yourself, so everyone can enjoy the game without having to worry about foodborne illness.”

To help ensure food safety for everyone this weekend, Commissioner Black encourages Georgians to follow the “Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill” playbook:

Clean: Food preparers (and diners) should wash their hands with hot, soapy water for at least 30 seconds before and after handling food. The kitchen harbors more bacteria than any other place in the home, so don’t forget to wash food preparation surfaces and tools often (this can include the sink, counters, even wet sponges and dish rags). If the party includes a buffet-style set up, encourage all guests to wash hands before eating.

Separate: Use separate cutting boards or wash cutting boards in between use with hot soapy water. The same is true for knives, serving dishes and serving utensils that could have been cross-contaminated during food preparation.

Cook: Use a food thermometer to ensure foods are thoroughly cooked to proper temperatures high enough to kill harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella or E. coli O157:H7. As a general rule, all poultry products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees; beef, veal, pork and lamb steaks, roasts or chops to 145 degrees; and ground beef, veal or lamb to 160 degrees. Also remember that any fully cooked foods or hot dishes that were prepared in advance need to be reheated to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees to kill any bacteria.

Chill: One of the biggest mistakes people make at parties is letting perishable food items sit out too long. One easy tip is to switch out any “hot” or “cold” food items with fresh items from the stove or fridge right around the Super Bowl half-time show; or before the food has been sitting out for two hours. Hot foods must be kept at 140 degrees or warmer (use chafing dishes, slow cookers or warming trays) and cold foods must be kept at 40 degrees or colder (nest dishes in bowls or trays of ice). There are also plenty of foods that don’t require temperature controls, such as nuts, party mix, chips, cookies, etc.

“This Super Bowl Sunday, don’t let unsafe food spoil game day,” Black added. “Practice safe food handling and make food safety part of the party.”

For last minute questions, Georgia consumers can “Ask Karen,” www.AskKaren.gov, through the interactive question-and-answer food safety feature on the USDA website. Also find more food safety tips and updates on Twitter @GDAFoodSafety.

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