November 16, 2012
MRMC offers tips for seasonal food safety
COLUMBIA, TN – Extra pounds are not the only thing to watch out for as a result of the plentiful meals, buffets and leftovers that abound in our homes during the holiday season. Buffets are a popular way to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, but Maury Regional Medical Center and the United States Department of Agriculture caution that foods left out for long periods are also an invitation to bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Here are some tips to help you and your guests avoid those unpleasant aftereffects of spoiled food.
- Wash hands and surfaces that food will come in contact with often.
- Cook your food to the proper temperatures.
- Always refrigerate food promptly (within two hours, one hour if temperature is above 90 degrees F.)
- Separate food to avoid cross-contamination.
- When shopping, purchase refrigerated or frozen items after selecting non-perishables.
- Never choose meat or poultry in packaging that is torn or leaking.
- Do not buy food past “Sell-By,” “Use-By,” or other expiration dates.
- Be sure refrigerator temperature is 40 degrees or below.
- Cook or freeze fresh poultry, fish, ground meats and variety meats within two days; other beef, veal, lamb or pork within three to five days.
- Perishable foods such as meat and poultry should be wrapped securely to maintain quality and to prevent meat juices from getting into other food.
- To maintain quality when freezing meat and poultry in its original package, wrap the package again with foil or plastic wrap that is recommended for the freezer.
- In general, high-acid canned food such as tomatoes, grapefruit and pineapple can be stored on the shelf for 12 to 18 months. Low-acid canned food such as meat, poultry, fish and most vegetables will keep two to five years (if the can is in good condition and has been stored in a cool, clean and dry place). Discard cans that are dented, leaking, bulging or rusted.