Was browning ground beef the other afternoon for enchilada filling – and had not turned on the kitchen light (saving energy and all). It appeared the ground beef was browned, until I turned on the stove light, only to see uncooked crumbles. Made me realize two things –
- sufficient lighting is important when working with food or cleaning agents
- checking final temperatures with a thermometer is a good way to be sure meat is cooked thoroughly.
Just relying on my eyesight (even with adequate lighting) is not enough. Each passing year I realize some of my senses are diminishing (most notably the ability to hear as I keep cranking up the TV to hear dialog on shows, interestingly commercials are not a problem – but that is another blog). But working in full light is an action step I can take to protect myself and my family from a mistake in the kitchen. I have seen the light!
Fire up the grill – it’s summer! Grilling (think of Kenny Chesney singing Chilling) is the thing to do. Every magazine I have scanned lately seems to have a feature on outdoor grilling. And why not – it is easy and really adds a good flavor to the food.
But how do you know when meats are done? Looks, taste, feel? Research has shown that even hamburgers without any pink can be at a temperature lower than what is needed to kill E Coli O157:H7 – so really, best way to tell if meat is cooked is to use a thermometer (one that is calibrated!).
Thermometers can be a grill guy’s best friend to avoid undercooking (people can get sick) or overcooking (meat doesn’t taste too good). How do you remember the temperatures to cook products? You don’t! Download the new ISU SafeFood© app with end point grill temps FREE. Use those thermometers folks and grill away!
Yes, it was Super Bowl weekend but I opted out of football watching and took a stab at de-cluttering as many of the January editions of magazines had advised. I attacked kitchen drawers and cupboards (and was amazed at the reproduction capabilities of plastic food storage containers!). Scattered in several of the kitchen drawers were food thermometers. Every kitchen needs these – but I wondered if they were accurate (as likely had been jostled or dropped a time or two).
What to do? Calibrate! That sounds harder than it is.
- Simply fill a wide mouthed glass container with crushed ice and measure the temperature.
- The dial should read 32˚ F (several of the ones I had did not).
- If reading is out of whack, turn the screw under the dial until 32˚ F is shown.
Kitchen magic in action and potential FBIs averted because proper end point cooking temperatures are reached. Need a thermometer for your kitchen? The first 3 readers from the United States to email me with a comment on this blog (or others) will receive one free of charge.
The time of year those of us in cold weather climates long for is here! Summertime! Fire up the grill and plan a picnic. It is up to SafeFood© Advocates to remain alert to any breeches in food safety. What are some common problems? You may have your own list but here is my top five of “people not being food safe”:
- Not using a thermometer to check that meats are cooked or not using it properly. Insert the thermometer into the center of the thickest part of meat. People, these cost less than $10 – Isn’t your health worth it?
- Using the same plate to hold raw and cooked meats. An easy fix is to simply place raw meats on sheet of wax paper when carrying out to the grill.
- Setting out picnic or potluck foods early. Bring cold foods in a cooler (of course) and don’t put out until ready to serve. Another option is to put the serving bowl of pasta salad in a bowl with ice, or invest in dual layer bowls that can keep in freezer until ready to use. These cost about $20 but are a good investment. I see more attention paid to keeping beverages cold than to food – and it is unlikely a warm soda will make you sick!
- Foods left uncovered – I don’t like flies to sample the picnic before I do! Keep foods covered. This keeps out other contaminants as well.
- Lack of hand hygiene – and then using hands to touch foods others will eat! Bring extra serving utensils and hand wipes (not a substitute for handwashing but better than nothing!)
A little preventative action will keep you and your grill time buddies safe!
Cost – Less than $50 for many summers of fun. Value of not having a food borne illness – priceless!