In the wake of recent E. coli illnesses and the ground beef recall by Wolverine Packing Company in Detroit, Oak- land County Health Division urges residents to practice food safety this summer. While at a picnic, outdoor event, or grilling at home, the following tips on preparing, storing, and cooking food will help protect individuals from food-borne illnesses.
Cook meats to a safe internal temperature – Use a meat thermometer; wash thermometer in hot, soapy water after each use:
- 145°F – Steaks and roasts (beef, pork, veal, and lamb) with a 3 minute rest time
- 160°F – Ground meat, including beef, pork, veal, and lamb
- 165°F – Ground Turkey, and ground chicken; poultry (chicken, turkey, duck, goose)
- Cooking frozen, manufactured formed/shaped hamburger patties is safest. This reduces any risk of bacteria due to improper thawing, and minimizes the amount of contact with fresh or thawed food.
- Always marinate meat and other food in the refrigerator.
Defrost or store fresh food in cold temperatures Keeping food cool slows the growth of harmful bacteria:
- Defrost food in the refrigerator, microwave, or under cold water. Never defrost food at room temperature.
- Cook food immediately after defrosting in cold water or in the microwave.
- Keep fresh or defrosted meat at 40°F or lower. A higher temperature could increase the amount of bacteria in the food and cause illness.
Separate cooking, food prep, and serving areas Cross contamination is one way to spread bacteria:
- Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
- Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
- Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
- Wash your hands every time you come into contact with raw meat.
- Wash cutting boards, knives, or other equipment that was in contact with raw meat or poultry in hot, soapy water or in a dishwasher before using with other foods.
Store foods at safe temperatures – Plan ahead if you will be go- ing to a picnic or barbeque:
- Keep cold foods cold, 40°F or below. ⇒ Keep hot food hot, 140°F or above.
- Perishable food should never be left out longer than two hours (one hour if the air temperature is over 90°F) unless the food is kept hot or cold.
- Do not partially cook meats, and then continue cooking later.
- Transport foods in a cooler with ice packs. Be sure the cooler is packed full of ice and/or freezer packs. Food should be surrounded by ice. If possible, transport raw meat, poultry, or seafood in a separate cooler to avoid cross contamination.
- When outside, keep the cooler out of the sun. Avoid opening it too often.
Handling fruits and vegetables:
- Wash all fruits and vegetables before you cut and prepare them. Bacteria can grow on the outside of these foods and are pushed into the foods by the knife if not cleaned properly.
- Store in an airtight container, such as a bowl with a lid or a plastic zip lock bag.
On May 19, Wolverine Packing Company recalled approximately 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli 0157. Five confirmed Shigatoxin producing E. coli 0157 illnesses have been reported in Michigan in adults between 20-41 years of age with symptom onset dates from April 22 through May, and three individuals have been hospitalized. None of the ill individuals have developed severe complications, and no deaths have been reported. There is one confirmed case in Oakland County. Find more information by visiting www.oakgov/health or find Public Health Oakland on Facebook and Twitter @publichealthOC.