November 20, 2009
People could be making unhealthy mistakes when they cook, according to the results of an online survey done by the County Department of Environmental Health.
“Our department keeps the public healthy by monitoring local restaurants and food retailers, and we wanted to know if people are using safe practices in their own kitchens. We discovered a few common mistakes that people should keep in mind, especially as they get ready to cook during the holidays,” said Gary Erbeck, Director of the Department of Environmental Health.
One mistake: tasting cookie or cake batter. Almost 25 percent of those surveyed admitted to this bad habit. Eating raw, partially cooked or unpasteurized products can make you sick, and it’s especially risky for kids, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
Other unhealthy habits: More than 60 percent of people didn’t promptly store leftovers in the refrigerator, and about 35 percent didn’t verify the internal temperature of meat with a thermometer.
Health officials say simple tips will keep you and your guests healthy.
- Thaw your turkey properly: Thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator, placing it in a tray in its original wrapper. Allow approximately 24 hours per four to five pounds of turkey. You can also thaw a turkey by submerging it in cold water and changing the water every 30 minutes. Allow about 30 minutes of defrosting time per pound of turkey.
- If you’re buying a fresh turkey, purchase it one to two days before cooking.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect cooking surfaces, countertops and utensils.
- Cook turkey at a minimum oven temperature of 325 degrees, and use a meat thermometer to make sure it has an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.
For more food safety information:
Department of Environmental Health Food Publications
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