Health officials offer tips to prevent food-safety fumbles during big game

February 6, 2011

By Staff

NEW — 10 a.m. Feb. 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday has many hosts whipping up hot wings and queso dip for the big game, but halftime snacks can lead to more than indigestion.

The state Department of Health said unsafe food-preparation practices make thousands of Washington residents sick each year.

The agency offers some simple precautions to help prevent foodborne illness, from the grocery store to the serving platter.

When buying food, keep raw meats separate from other foods — especially fruits and vegetables — in the shopping cart and grocery bags.

Raw meats wrapped for display often leak. Put meat into a plastic bag to prevent drips that may contaminate other food.

The state Department of Health recommends the following safety tips for preparing food:

  • Always wash hands before you begin to prepare food and after handling raw meats. Use warm water, soap and paper towels. Remember: clean-looking hands may be contaminated by millions of germs. Inadequate hand washing is a leading cause of foodborne disease.
  • Keep your kitchen and utensils clean. Sanitize cutting boards, knives and countertops that come into contact with raw meat by using a solution of bleach water (1 teaspoon bleach per gallon of water) or antibacterial cleaner.
  • Do not reuse wash cloths after wiping countertops, especially after cleaning up raw meat juice.
  • Wash all produce, especially if it is to be eaten raw.
  • Fruits and vegetables should be washed by rinsing well in running cold water and scrubbing, instead of by soaking in standing water.
  • Tough-skinned produce, such as cantaloupe, should be scrubbed with a brush or cloth during washing.
  • Be sure meat is thawed. Frozen or partially frozen meat is easy to undercook. Cook food thoroughly to safe temperatures. Use a food thermometer.
  • Refrigerate foods immediately. Do not leave food on the counter to cool down. Cut or divide solid food (meat) into small pieces and cool in uncovered containers in the refrigerator. Only cover the container after the food is below 45 degrees.

Use the following tips to safely serve and store food:

  • Do not allow perishable food to sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Keep track. After two hours, refrigerate, reheat, or throw it away.
  • Arrange and serve food on several small platters instead of one large one. Keep the rest of the food either hot or cold.
  • Keep hot foods hot (above 140 degrees). Use warming trays, when possible. Keep cold foods cold. Nest dishes in bowls of ice, when possible.
  • Do not serve drinks or foods that are made with raw eggs.
  • Reheat all leftovers (or previously cooked foods) to at least 165 degrees.
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