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A ee3 l
1I 1 OI FL
[M o Y a
Home & Garden Bulletin
Writer-Mary Ann Parmley
Design -Deborah Shelton
Microbiology -Stanley S. Green
Carl S. Custer
Historically It Was Harder
How Food Spoils
Meet the Food Poisoners
Botulism -Home-canned foods
A Safe Kitchen
Serving Food HOT
Storing Food COLD
Keeping it SAFE & CLEAN
-for meat & poultry
Special Care for Special Foods
Turkey, Chicken & Duck with Stuffing
Hotdogs & Lunch Meat
Eggs & Egg-Rich Foods
Reporting Food Illness
Index to Terms
For More Information
Meat & Poultry Hotline
Test Your Food Safety IQ
The SAFE FOOD Book-
-, Historically it was harder. From the
earliest times, keeping food safe and
wholesome has been
quite a task.
Since down from
Stored it in
Your Kitchen Guide
caves, and used it the next summer to keep food from spoiling and-
perhaps equally important to them-cool the wine!
There's a recorded reference that sauerkraut, because it is preserved
to keep a long time, was used by camp cooks for the workmen on the
Great Wall of China. That was about 200 B.C.
And in the Middle Ages, a great many smoking, salting, drying, and
preserving techniques were perfected that are still in use. The luxurious
fruitcake, studded with dried fruits and steeped in rum or brandy, is a
present-day descendant. The liquor retards mold, and there are cases of
well-tinned and brandied cakes lasting 20 years!
Taking care of food today. Now, of course, modern refrigeration
and cooking make keeping food safe much simpler.
Government inspection and strict standards within the food industry
make a decisive difference too. Today Americans enjoy the safest, most
wholesome, and most abundant food supply in the world.
With respect to meat and poultry-the principal subject of this
booklet-some 7,500 Federal inspectors oversee operations in 7,200
packing and processing plants every working day.
This is because the law requires that inspectors check and re-check
the safety and quality of meat and poultry from the time the animals
arrive at the packing plant until the final product is ready for sale.
This inspection costs only about $1.50 a year for each of us-a real
bargain for such peace of mind!
Once you get food home, though, it's up to you to take proper care of
it. This is important, because most of the roughly 2 million cases of food
poisoning which now occur each year are due to improper handling of food
in the home. But you don't have to be a statistic! Prevention is as easy as
following the rules in this book.
...... ,- It's important to know the
difference between organisms that cause foods to spoil-to rot or turn
bad-and those that can cause food poisoning.
A major difference is the temperatures the two types like. Most food
poisoning bacteria like room temperatures (around 60 to 90F). They
don't grow at low refrigerator temperatures. By "grow" we mean that
bacteria divide, multiplying in number.
But food spoilage organisms-like some bacteria, and yeasts, and
molds-can grow at lower temperatures. Even when food is in the
refrigerator at temperatures as low as 40F, these spoilage agents can
continue to reproduce.
While it's hard to be grateful for them, most food spoilage organisms
at least make themselves known. The food looks or smells awful. That's a
help-you know to throw it out.
The Food Poisoners Unfortunately, the bacteria
that commonly cause food poisoning- with its mild-to-severe intestinal
flu-like symnptoms-are not nearly so obvious.
Most of them can't be seen, smelled, or tasted. The smartest way to
handle the food poisoners is to make life so hard they can't multiply
enough to cause trouble.
But before we talk in detail about prevention, let's meet these
Staphylococcus aureus is the scientific name for a small, round
organism that is a leading cause of food poisoning.
We literally carry staph with us all of the time. It lives in our noses
and on our skin. You can find it in concentrated form in boils, pimples, and
other skin infections.
When transmitted to food, usually by handling, staph starts grow-
ing. At warm temperatures-100F is ideal-certain types of staph
multiply rapidly and produce a toxin or poison that makes people sick.
Staph symptoms? Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea usually appear 2
to 6 hours after eating staph-
infected food, and last a day or two. 's'lL" L
The illness is usually not too serious ^ "
in healthy people. IT
While cooking kills most bac-
teria, the staph toxin is not de- i -
stroyed by ordinary cooking. So you
must be very careful in handling food 4 4 ?
to prevent staph from growing
enough to produce toxin.
Don't let prepared foods-par-
ticularly starchy foods, cooked and .ia
cured meats, cheese and meat salads
-sit out at room temperature over 2 Staph-These tiny, grape-like cells
s S h is on a id wih produce a toxin that is the most com-
hours. Staph is often associated with mon cause of food poisoning in this
these foods, country.
Salmonella -which appears as short, thin rods under the micro-
scope-is another major cause of food poisoning in this country.
Actually, salmonella is the name used for some 2,000 closely related
bacteria that cause more severe flu-like symptoms than staph-diarrhea,
vomiting, fever. Infants and young children, the ill, and the elderly may
be seriously affected. Symptoms normally appear 12 to 36 hours after
eating, and may last 2 to 7 days.
Salmonella continually cycles through the environment in the
intestinal tracts of people and
The bacteria is often found in
raw or undercooked foods, such as
poultry, eggs, and meat. Unpasteur-
ized milk can also contain salmonella.
Control is a simple matter,
though, because thorough cooking
kills salmonella. (See cooking chart,
Salmonella-Growing here as a col-
ony, these rod-shaped cells are the p. 11, for safe cooking temperatures
second major cause of food for various meats.)
Perfringens, full name Clostridium perfringens, ranks third as a
cause of food poisoning. It, too, is present throughout the environment-
in the soil, the intestines of animals and humans, and in sewage.
Perfringens differs from staph and salmonella, however, in two ways.
First, it's anaerobic, which means it grows only where there is little or no
oxygen. Second, it produces two kinds of cells.
The normal perfringens cell is the unpleasant one-it produces the
poison which makes you sick. But perfringens has a spore cell too, which
can survive circumstances that knock out the normal cells.
These spores are tricky, because at temperatures between 700 and
120F, they can become normal cells again, multiplying quickly to
Perfringens shows its ugly side-usually diarrhea and gas pains-
some 8 to 24 hours after consumption. While the symptoms often end
within a day, people with certain medical conditions-ulcer patients, for
instance-can be seriously affected.
Called the "cafeteria germ" because it often strikes food served in
quantity and left for long periods on
a steam table or at room tempera-
/ ture, perfringens is often found in
cooked beef, turkey, gravy, dressing,
Sstews, and casseroles.
Special attention to refrigera-
/ tion, which keeps perfringens from
growing, and dividing large port ins
into small dishes for serving are the
best hedges against perfringens. Di-
a. viding buffet foods into several small
dishes exposes more of the food to
Perfringens-Between 70 and 120F, .
these cells can multiply rapidly. They the air, thus reducing the a aerobic
are the third major cause of food condit io ns perfri ngens likes.
Botulism, while very rare, is the deadly food poisning ca used by
Clostridi mn botulinum. Although it needs just the right condition., to
develop, botulism is clearly a danger because the spores are alw\ ayv.
around in soil and water.
Like perfri ngens. the botulinum bacteria -rod-shaped under the
microscope-grow best in anaerobic
(reduced oxygen) conditions. Since
the canning process forces air out of
food, the botulinum bacteria may
find improperly canned foods a good
place to grow.
Low-acid vegetables such as
green beans, corn, beets, and peas,
which may have picked up botulinum
spores from the soil, are at risk. The
risk is greater if they are home-
canned, and safe canning procedures
have not been followed precisely.
Like the perfringens spore, the
botulinum spore is tough. While high
cooking temperatures will kill the normal botulinum cell, it takes still
higher temperatures to kill the spore. That's why canning is done with a
pressure canner. If the spores are not killed in the canning process, they
can become normal cells again and produce the deadly poison.
If you eat botulinum-contaminated food, symptoms will develop in 12
to 48 hours. The poison attacks the nervous system, causing double
vision, droopy eyelids, trouble swallowing, and difficult breathing. With-
out treatment, a patient can die of suffocation-the nerves no longer
There is an antitoxin, which has reduced the number of deaths from
botulism, but patients may still suffer nerve damage, and recovery is
To avoid botulism, carefully examine any canned food, especially
home-canned food, which looks suspicious. Danger signs are milky liquids
(that should be clear) surrounding vegetables, cracked jars, loose lids,
and swollen cans or lids.
Don't use canned goods showing any of these signs. Don't even taste
them! Even a very small amount of botulinum toxin can be highly
Throw suspect canned goods away, carefully. You don't want animals,
children, or anyone else who might rummage through the trash to get ill.
Wrap the cans in plastic, then in heavy paper bags, for deposit in a secure
trash can. (See page 27, "Reporting Food Illness," on when to call health
authorities in cases of suspected botulism.)
Botulinum bacteria-Right center, the
rod-shaped normal cells which pro-
duce a rare but deadly poison. Left
center, the oblong shapes with clear
centers are the "enduring" spores.
How food temperature FC g F
affects their growth teanningt
low-acid vegetables, meat, and 250
poultry in pressure canner. 240
Canning temperatures for fruits, tomatoes, _
and pickles in water-bath canner. 212
15 takes less and
Low cooking and holding 165 less time to kill
temperatures prevent bacterial / / bacteria as
growth, but allow some temperature rises.
bacteria to live. 140
2 ,__ Many bacteria
125 survive; some may
Rapid growth of
bacteria; some will
Some growth of food poisoning
<__ Refrigerator temperatures permit
32 slow growth of some spoilage bacteria
4_ Freezing-Some bacteria survive, but
0 no growth occurs. For safety's sake,
Your freezer should be set at OF.
- ---- -- ---
A Safe Kitchen Staph, salmonella, perfringens,
and the botulinum bacteria are the four main food poisoners. But there
are twenty or so other organisms that can cause problems too.
So, to get food on the table safely, you need to know and follow the
rules for food care.
Most of the food poisoners can be controlled by cooking and refriger-
at ion, so the first two food rules are to keep food HOT or COLD.
And since most bacteria get into food through careless handling, the
third rule is to keep everything in the kitchen CLEAN.
Keep Food Hot
High food temperatures (165 to 212F) reached in boiling, baking,
frying, and roasting kill most food poisoning bacteria.
If you want to delay serving cooked food, though, you have to keep it
at a holding temperature-roughly 1400 to 165F. Steam tables and
chafing dishes are designed to maintain holding temperatures. But they
don't always keep food hot enough. So it's not wise to leave hot food out
more than 2 hours.
When cooked food is left out unheated, the possibility of bacterial
growth is greater, since the food
quickly drops to room temperature
where food poisoners thrive.
To serve hot foods safely-
particularly meat and poultry, which
are highly susceptible to food
poisoning-follow these rules:
SCook thoroughly-Cook meat
and poultry to the "doneness" tempera-
tures given in the chart on page 11.
To make sure that meat and poultry are
cooked all the way through, use a meat
thermometer Insert the tip into the thickest
part of the meat, avoiding fat or bone. For
poultry, insert the tip into the thick part of
the thigh next to the body.
o Don't interrupt cooking-Cook meat and poultry completely at one
time. Partial cooking may encourage bacterial growth before cooking is
a Cooking frozen food-Allow frozen food more time to cook-
generally 11/2 times the period required for food that has been thawed.
* Thoroughly reheat leftovers-Cover leftovers to reheat. This retains
moisture and guarantees that food will heat all the way through. Bring
gravies to a rolling boil before serving.
NEVER LEAVRLE E FOO)) OUT ()OVER 2 HOURS!
Cooking Meat & Poultry
Meat and poultry cooked throughout to these temperatures
are generally safe to eat.
Medium 77 170
Well Done 82 180
FRESH PORK 77 170
Chicken 82-85 180-185
Turkey 82-85 180-185
Turkey Roasts 77-80 170-175
the bird) 74 165
Rare beef is popular, but you should
know that cooking it to only 140F
means some food poisoning organisms
Keep Food Cold
The colder food is kept, the less chance bacteria has to grow. In large
part, that's why food keeps in the freezer so much longer than in the
To make sure your refrigerator and freezer are giving you good
protection against bacterial growth, check them with an appliance
The refrigerator should register 40F (5Celsius) or lower. The
freezer should read 0F (-18 Celsius) or lower.
Here are some tips for keeping meat, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, and
other perishable foods cold:
e Shopping-Pick up the perishables as your last stop in the grocery,
and-especially in hot weather-get them home and into the refrig-
erator quickly. Don't leave them in the car while you run other errands. If
you live more than 30 miles from the store, consider using an ice chest for
the trip home.
SRefrigerating- Since repeated handling can introduce bacteria to
meat and poultry, leave products in the store wrap unless it's torn. In that
case, to prevent moisture loss, re-wrap the product in wax paper, plastic
wrap, or aluminum foil.
Read the labels on canned meat and poultry and refrigerate it if
necessary. Otherwise, store it in a cool, dry place.
For more details on refrigerator and freezer storage times for meat
and poultry, see the cold storage chart on page 14.
SFreezing-While "freezer burn" -white, dried-out patches on the
surface of meat-won't make you sick, it does make meat tough and
tasteless. To avoid it, wrap freezer items in heavy freezer paper, plastic
wrap or aluminum foil. Place new items to the rear of the freezer, and old
items to the front so that they'll be used first. Dating freezer packages
also tells you what to use first.
Thawing-The safest way to thaw meat and poultry is to take it out of
the freezer and leave it overnight in the refrigerator. Normally, it will be
ready to use the next day.
For faster thawing, put the frozen package in a watertight plastic
bag under cold water. Change the water often. The cold water tempera-
ture slows bacteria that might grow in the outer, thawed portions of the
meat while the inner areas are still thawing.
If you have a microwave oven, you can safely thaw meat and poultry
in it. Follow the manufacturer's directions.
it: '; .ion: ir's not ra .can multiply rapidly t :rom t perari n Y .
kit,'. 1-: co i .. Bacteria can multiply rapidly at room temperature.
* Storing leftovers-Don't cool leftovers on the kitchen counter. Put
them straight into the refrigerator.
Divide large meat, macaroni, or potato salads and la rge bowls of
mashed potatoes or dressing into smaller port ions. Food in small port iI,)ns
cools more quickly to temperatures where bacteria quit growing.
Keep Food Safe and Clean
When you shop, be careful in your selection of perishable foods.
Make sure frozen foods are solid and that refrigerated foods feel cold.
The "Sell by" and "Use by" dates now printed on many products can
also be helpful in deciding whether food is still safe to buy, provided you
know how to use them.
What do they mean? The "Sell by" date tells the grocer-and you,
the consumer-how long the product should be kept for sale on the shelf.
The "Use by" date is intended to tell you how long the product will retain
top eating quality after you buy it.
While these dates are helpful, you can't rely on them absolutely. They
Cold Storage of Meat and Poultry
TIME LIMITS? Because you can't tell exactly how long meat and poultry will last
when you get them home, this chart gives short, conservative storage times. You
may be used to keeping food longer, but following the chart will help protect you
from food spoilage-what you risk with long refrigeration-and from taste loss-
what happens when food is left too long in the freezer.
Product (Days at 400F) (Months at 0F)
Roasts (beef) 3 to 5 6 to 12
Roasts (lamb) 3 to 5 6 to 9
Roasts (pork, veal) 3 to 5 4 to 8
Steaks (beef) 3 to 5 6 to 12
Chops (lamb) 3 to 5 6 to 9
Chops (pork) 3 to 5 3 to 4
Hamburger, ground and stew meats 1 to 2 3 to 4
Variety meats (tongue, brain, kidneys, liver, and heart) 1 to 2 3 to 4
Sausage (pork) 1 to 2 1 to 2
Cooked meat and meat dishes 3 to 4 2 to 3
Gravy and meat broth 1 to 2 2 to 3
PROCESSED MEATS (Frozen, cured meat loses quality rapidly and should be used as soon
Bacon 7 1
Frankfurters 7 1 to2
Ham (whole) 7 1 to 2
Ham (half) 3 to 5 1 to 2
Ham (slices) 3 to 4 1 to2
Luncheon meats 3 to 5 1 to 2
Sausage (smoked) 7 1 to2
Sausage (dry, semi-dry) 14 to 21 1 to2
Chicken and turkey (whole) 1 to 2 12
Chicken pieces 1 to 2 9
Turkey pieces 1 to 2 6
Duck and goose (whole) 1 to 2 6
Giblets 1 to 2 3 to 4
Covered with broth, gravy 1 to 2 6
Pieces not in broth or gravy 3 to 4 1
Cooked poultry dishes 3 to 4 4 to 6
Fried chicken 3 to 4 4
Deer 3 to 5 6 to 12
Rabbit 1 to 2 12
Duck and goose (whole, wild) 1 to 2 6
*Once a vacuum-sealed package is opened. Unopened vacuum-sealed packages can be
stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
`i --7 don't reflect a iumIbr of things
SFI1 RY that can shorten a food's useful
AG I life, such as too much handling
by store employees and custoim-
ers, or inaldcluate refrigerate ii n.
Therefore it's be.-t not to store fresh
Seat on the refrigerator shelf unless
you plan to use it in a day or two. (See
the cold storage chart on page 14 for full
details on how long different types of
meat and poultry can safely be refriger-
ated and frozen.)
The final concern in the home care
of food, of course, is keeping food clean.
This means that EVERYTHING that
comes into contact with food should be
Here are some storage and clean-
Store foods in safe places-Store
frozen foods in the freezer, perishable
food to be used within a few days in the
refrigerator, and canned foods in a
clean, dry place.
Keep pets, household cleaners, and
other chemicals away from food. Don't store food near leaky pipes or
seeping moisture. Control household pests (rats, mice, roaches).
e Don't spread infection-Always wash your hands before beginning
food preparation. Teach this simple, but vital, rule to your children too.
Use gloves to handle food if you have any kind of skin cut or infection
on your hands. Thy not to sneeze or cough into food.
* Keep washing and drying cloths clean-Bacteria can "loiter" in
towels and cloths you use over and over, so wash kitchen linen often.
Throw out dirty or mildewed dish sponges.
e Wash hands, countertops, and utensils in hot, soapy water between
each step in food preparation-Bacteria present on raw meat and
poultry can get into other food if you're not careful to wash everything
they've touched before exposing another food to the same surfaces and
utensils. Starchy foods and those containing dairy products are particu-
Second, wash your hands, utensils, and food-contact surfaces be-
tween contact with raw meat or poultry and the same dish when cooked.
For instance, if you use a serving dish to marinate raw chicken, wash the
dish well before using it to take up that same chicken after it's cooked.
:L',e wave Cook .g More and more people have
microwave ovens at home today, and it is a very different method of
cooking. Let's look, then, at how microwave ovens work, and how that
affects their use with perishable goods, particularly meat and poultry.
Microwaves are extra-short radio waves produced in the oven. The
movement (friction) caused inside the food by these waves actually does
the cooking. The air in the oven usually doesn't heat up very much.
The waves bounce around inside the oven, passing through the food
repeatedly. This causes cooking to begin just below the food's surface.
Full cooking is achieved as the heat starts to spread through the rest of
While microwaving is quick, it does not always cook food evenly.
Before new microwave owners master their ovens, they often find that
some spots in a food will over cook, while others are still not thoroughly
To complete cooking of the whole food without over-cooking these
high-heat spots, many microwave recipes call for a 10 to 15-minute
standing time following power cooking. That allows cooking to continue
after you take the food out of the oven as the heat spreads evenly
throughout the food.
The safest way to use your microwave oven is to:
De-bone meat and cook it slowly at a lower temperature-Bone,
which is dense, shields the tissue around it. That may keep the shielded
area from heating through. Remove large bones from meat before micro-
waving, and cook the deboned portion using the middle-temperature
range settings. Slower cooking at lower temperatures ensures more even
heating. Rotating meat several times during cooking helps too.
z Carefully observe the cookbook standing time -Where full cooking is
vital to kill food poisoning bacteria in meat and poultry, let the food stand
outside the oven-preferably covered with foil to retain heat-for the
full number of minutes recommended to complete cooking.
o Test for doneness with a meat thermometer-After the standing
time, check meat or poultry in several spots to be sure it has reached the
proper internal temperature throughout (see cooking chart on page 11).
Be extra careful with pork. Because microwaving can leave under-
cooked spots in raw pork in which trichina parasites-the cause of
trichinosis-can survive, you may want to cook fresh pork by another
method. Stove-top or conventional oven cooking is recommended.
You should know that while trichinosis is quite rare in this country
(only about 120 cases are reported each year), it can be serious.
To reheat pork, bring it to a uniform internal temperature of 1400E
SDO NOT use the microwave for HOME CANNING-As liquid inside
the sealed glass jar heats and expands, pressure can build up, causing the
jar to explode. Cases have been reported where the explosion blew the
oven door off.
for Special Foods Because they are especially
vulnerable to food poisoning bacteria, some foods require special care.
Hamburger receives more handling than many other meats. The beef
is butchered and then ground. Trimmings from more expensive cuts and
small amounts of fat may be added to the mixture for moisture and flavor.
Hamburger is thus exposed to many of the common food poisoners,
including salmonella and staph.
So hamburger can give you trouble if you eat it raw or rare. For
complete safety, make sure hamburger is brown or at least
brownish pink in the center before you serve it.
Making a meatloaf? Use a meat thermometer to make sure it cooks
to 170F. This is particularly important if your mixture contains pork.
Many people have questions about buying and storing hamburger.
Generally, hamburger at the store should be a bright red to dullish brown
color. Return any package that has an off-odor when opened.
You can store hamburger in the coldest part of the refrigerator for
use in a day or two. Otherwise freeze it.
It will keep, frozen, at full quality
for 3 to 4 months. A I
Because ham is cured-and often smoked, aged, and dried-you
may think it is "protected" against food poisoning. It isn't always. Ham,
like all pork, can spread food poisoning bacteria-chiefly staph and
The thing to remember with ham is to read the label carefully. Know
exactly what kind of ham you've bought, then observe these guidelines:
Refrigeration- Ham slices or whole hams bought in paper or plastic
wrap should be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Ham slices
should be used in 3-4 days; a whole ham within a week. Even most canned
hams should be refrigerated. Read the label for storage time.
o Freezing-Freezing ham is tricky. Like other smoked pork products,
ham tends to lose flavor and texture in the freezer. To freeze, wrap ham
tightly in freezer paper or use special plastic freezer bags. Don't try to
keep it frozen over a month or two.
SCooking-It is important to read the label before serving ham. "Fully
cooked" hams have been completely
cooked during processing. They
can be served as is, warm or
cold. Fresh hams, or
.. Jbe cooked
to a uniform
Turkey, Chicken, and Duck i.':: :Sl.i'-; :
Fixing poultry with stuffing gives food poisoning several opportuni-
ties to strike. Bacteria present in raw poultry can get into the stuffing.
The stuffing, deep inside the bird, may not heat thoroughly to bacteria-
killing temperatures. And refrigerating stuffed poultry requires special
Here are some poultry and st puffing safety tips:
* Preparing ahead-If you mix your stuffing a day ahead, pre-mix only
the dry ingredients and refrigerate them separately from the uncooked
bird. That will keep any bacteria in the raw poultry from entering the
starchy dressing, a food many bacteria can grow well in.
* Cooking-Stuff the bird just before you're ready to cook it, and stuff
loosely. That gives heat from the oven a better chance to cook the stuffing
all the way through.
Check the stuffing for doneness with a meat thermometer after you
take the bird out of the oven. Leave the thermometer in place for about 5
minutes for an accurate reading. To be fully cooked, the stuffing should
reach 1650F and the bird 185E
e Serving-Place the stuffing in a separate bowl for serving. Keep the
poultry meat and stuffing separate for refrigeration, too.
* Refrigerating-If you don't want to debone the bird right away after
your meal, refrigerate the carcass. You can debone later, dividing the
meat into smaller portions for storage. Likewise, if you have large
amounts of leftover stuffing, divide it into smaller dishes too. This speeds
e Do not thaw commercially frozen
stuffed poultry before cooking. Follow
package directions carefully on the
storage and cooking of such items.
e NOTE: A Rock Cornish hen is
a variety of small roasting chicken.
Treat it like other poultry. Wild
rice dressing, often its accom-
paniment, is starchy and
should be handled like
._________ ': ,.. ."4 '""."; '"_ __, ..: 5 : '.. '. ."
Hotdogs and lunch meats are processed to last longer than many
other meat and poultry products. But if you keep them too long, you can
have problems, mainly with spoilage.
Here are some storage hints:
e Refrigerate-Hotdogs and lunch meats will keep in the original
vacuum-sealed package for 2 weeks. Once you open the package, though,
you should re-wrap it well and plan to use the rest in 3-5 days.
c Watch quality For best flavor, use hotdogs no later than 1 week
after the "Sell by" date on the package-that's the date that tells store
managers how long they should keep an item for sale.
And watch the liquid that often forms around hotdogs. If it's cloudy,
it can be a sign that spoilage bacteria have started growing. Discard hot
dogs in cloudy liquid.
SFreezing? These products can be frozen, but flavor and texture loss
may appear after a month or so.
Eggs & Egg.Rich Foods
Tb turn an old phrase, there are good eggs and bad eggs. Good eggs
-in the bacterial sense-are clean and unbroken. Use these eggs any
time they'll be eaten partially cooked or raw. They should be used when
you're fixing soft-cooked or poached eggs, soft scrambled eggs, a chef's
salad dressing, custard, eggnog or ice cream.
Bad eggs-here we mean soiled or cracked-can contain harmful
bacteria. They should be used only in recipes where they'll be fully cooked
-hard-cooked eggs, cakes, casseroles.
* Observe the HOT & COLD rules-Egg-rich foods offer a good place
for bacteria to grow, so serve them hot immediately after cooking and
refrigerate them quickly after use. An egg-rich food to be served cold
should be refrigerated right after preparation, and should be kept in the
refrigerator until served.
* Egg salad-Wash your hands, all surfaces, and utensils carefully when
preparing egg salad. Keep it cold between servings.
* Hardboiled eggs-Refrigerate hard-cooked eggs after preparation and
use within a week. It's safe to have them outside an hour or two for an
Easter egg hunt, for instance, but re-refrigerate those that are not eaten.
* Be careful about refrigerator times-For best quality, use whole eggs
within the week of purchase. The outside limit for keeping whole eggs in
the refrigerator is about 5 weeks. After that
time, they begin to lose quality.
For safety's sake, leftover
yolks and whites should be used
in 2-4 days.
To keep them
Iout, you can
-" cover yolks
i \ / refrigeration.
A marinade is a sauce used to flavor and tenderize meat and poultry.
Marinades of all kinds are commercially available today, or you can make
your own. Basically, a marinade consists of an acidic liquid (wine, lemon
juice, or vinegar), spices and oil.
To use marinades safely:
SMarinate in glass or plastic-Marinades contain acid, and the process
may take several hours, so you need a tray or bowl which won't be
affected by acid. Avoid metal pans.
% Marinate in the refrigerator-While the acid in the sauce will slow
bacterial growth, it won't stop it. So anything to be marinated over an
hour or so should steep in the refrigerator.
Leftover meat in a marinade can be frozen, but the meat fats and oil
from the marinade will separate, forming a solid fat layer on top. Don't be
alarmed. The sauce will melt together again nicely when reheated.
Don't ever try to freeze mayonnaise! A small disaster is what you
get if you try to freeze a salad made with mayonnaise. This applies
equally whether the other ingredients are meat, poultry, eggs, tuna, or
While the other ingredients may freeze fine, the mayo, holding
everything together, will separate. What you get when you try to defrost
it, is an oily mess.
After opening, place mayonnaise, which keeps best at 50F, in the
warmest part of the refrigerator-on the shelves farthest
from the freezing compartment or in the door. For best
flavor, use it within 2 months.
A final word-mayo is not a villain! Contrary
to what you may have thought, adding
mayonnaise to food does not increase
the risk of food poisoning. In fact, i
most commercially prepared /
mayonnaise and salad ,
dressings contain lemon -"
juice or some other acid
flavoring, which slows
bacterial growth. Salt
in mayonnaise also ="
retards bacterial CATSU
growth. So, really,
to food slightly in-
creases its resistance
to food poisoning.
Goods Canned foods-whether in tins or glass jars--will
keep practically forever, right? Wrong.
Commercial canning is done under tightly controlled conditions-
careful sanitation, just the right heat and timing-but there are still
limits to how long it will preserve food.
Why? There are several factors that limit the shelf-life of canned
foods. First, all sections of a metal can are not equally strong. Some cans
have side and end seams that can rust and rupture, causing them to leak.
Shipping accidents-where cans fall or are crushed-cause many of
Then there's can corrosion. In all foods, but especially in high-acid
foods like canned tomatoes, the food continually react s chemically with
the metal container Over several years, this can cause taste and texture
changes, and eventually lower the nutritional value of the food.
High temperatures (over 100F) are harmful to canned goods too.
The risk of health problems jumps sharply as storage temperatures rise.
In fact, canned goods designed for use in the tropics are specially
And accidentally frozen canned goods left in a car or basement in
subzero temperatures can also present health problems. If the cans are
merely swollen-and you're sure the swelling was caused by freezing-
thoroughly cook the contents right away. You can eat or refreeze the
cooked food. But if the seams have rusted or burst, throw the cans out.
While extremely rare, botulism (see page 7) is the worst problem you
can encounter in canned goods. Never use food from containers giving out
possible botulism warnings-leaking, bulging, or badly dented cans,
cracked jars or jars with loose or bulging lids, canned food with a foul
odor, or any container that spurts liquid when you open it. Don't even
taste such food!
Seal the product in a plastic bag and mark it "Danger." Refrigerate it
on a high shelf, out of the reach of children. A health official may want to
examine it later. For full details on reporting suspect canned goods, see
page 27, "Phoning in a Report."
To use canned foods wisely, follow these rules:
* Store canned foods in a cool, clean dry place. Temperatures below
850F are best.
* Canned Ham-Store it in the refrigerator for use within 6-9 months.
* Low-acid canned goods-Store in the cabinet for 2-5 years. Products:
Canned meat and poultry, stews, vegetable soups (except tomato),
spaghetti (noodle & pasta) products, potatoes, corn, carrots, spinach,
beans, beets, peas, pumpkin.
SHigh-acid canned goods-Store in the cabinet for 12-18 months.
Products: Juices-tomato, orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit; to-
matoes; grapefruit; pineapple; apples and apple products; mixed fruit;
peaches; pears; plums; all berries; pickles; sauerkraut; and foods treated
with vinegar-based sauces or dressings, like German potato salad and
SBoil all home-canned foods before serving-First bring the food to a
rapid boil. This brings out any tell-tale botulinum odors. Some botulinum
bacteria produce gas you can smell.
If the product smells all right, lower the heat and continue boiling the
food, covered, for a second period: 10 minutes for high-acid foods, and 20
minutes for low-acid foods-meat and poultry products, peas, beans, and
The second boiling kills any
botulinum toxin that might be
present even though you
can't smell it.
boiling periods be-
fore tasting for
quality or to
ing. But if a
Sthe food is
What to Do
When the Freezer Fails Don't pnic when
your freezer fails. Freezers are well-insulated, and each lpckage of frozen
food acts as a "block of ice" protecting the food a;ri ,un it.
Ordinarily, a fully stocked freezer will keep food fro ,zen for 2 days
after losing power. A half-full freezer can maintain freezing power for
roughly 1 day.
So, the first thing to find out is how long your freezer will be out. If it
can be started again within a safe time, you don't need to do anything.
Just resist the temptation to keep looking inside. Each time you open the
door, warm air rushes in, reducing the freezer's effectiveness.
However, if it can't be re-started in a day or two, you may want to:
* Divide your food up among friends' freezers.
a Find a store, church, or school freezer that will temporarily accept
your food, or, if possible, rent space in a commercial freezer or cold
SPut dry ice in your freezer. Dry ice must be handled carefully. NEVER
TOUCH IT WITH YOUR HANDS. It freezes everything it touches.
If possible, have the merchant put the dry ice in your picnic cooler or
in a cardboard box. This makes handling it in the car easier.
If you must remove it from the carrying case when you get home,
use heavy gloves or tongs. Work with dry ice in a well-ventilated area.
As it evaporates, dry ice can quickly drive the oxygen you need to
breathe out of a small
Place the dry ice on empty shelves in the freezer around the items to
be kept frozen-not directly touching the packages themselves. You can
also put a layer of cardboard over the freezer items and place the ice on
top of the cardboard.
Twenty-five pounds of dry ice should hold a 10-cubic-foot full freezer
below freezing for 3-4 days. If the freezer is half full, the same amount of
ice will keep it stable for 2-3 days.
.lidg. i r.; our food after a freezer-it haw-Do not stick your head
down into the freezer after its been full of dry ice for several hours. There
may not be enough oxygen left for you to breathe. Open the freezer and
let outside air mix in before examining your food.
Ment or poultry that still contains ice crystals may safely be refrozen.
For meat and poultry products that have been kept in a refrigerator
section, though, or have only managed to stay "cool-feeling," cooking is a
better option. After you cook these items, you can refreeze them.
Throw out any product that has even a slightly unusual color or odor.
When power goes off in the refrigerator, you can normally expect
your food to last at least 4 to 6 hours, depending on how warm your
kitchen is. Higher room tempera-
tures will mean it won't last
You can add block ice to
the refrigerator to keep it
cool if there's a delay in
getting the power back
on. Dry ice can be
added to the freezer
FOOd Illness Despite your best efforts., yu or your fiam-
ily could get food poisoning. Most such incidents occur at home. Others
are caused by mistakes in large-scale food handling. You read about them
in the paper when 20 or 30 people become ill after a la rg e ba l(uet,
picnic, or reception.
If you think you have food poisoning, what should you do?
* If you're only mildly ill, treat the symptoms pretty much like "flu."
Keep up your liquid intake with water, tea, apple juice, bouillon, and
ginger ale to replace fluids lost through diarrhea or vomiting.
* If symptoms are severe, or the victim is quite young, elderly, or has a
chronic illness, see your doctor immediately or seek hospital care.
Phoning in a report
* There are three situations,
typically, in which you should notify
your local health authorities:
1) you ate the suspect food at a
large gathering; 2) the food
is from a restaurant,
sidewalk vendor, or other commercial or institutional kitchen; or 3) the
suspect food is a commercial product. Whatever the case, the deciding
factor is whether other people have eaten the suspect food.
Tj;. to have this information ireid\ when you phoinc:
SYour name, address and daytime phone number.
SA brief explanation of the problem: Where did you eat the suspect food?
How many other people ate it? Was it at a private or public gathering?
When (date) did this occur?
a If you ate the food at a restaurant, what is the name and address?
Date you ate there?
If the suspect food is a commercial product, have the container in
hand so you can refer to it while you're on the phone.
o Try to remember when and where you bought the product. The name
and location of the store is a great help.
SLook at the container itself. All products give the manufacturer's name
On meat and poultry products, look at the USDA inspection stamp for
the official plant or establishment number. On red meat products, you'll
see something like "EST. 38," and on poultry products "P-42." The
number identifies the processing plant where the product was made.
SMany products also show a lot or batch number. This is a code
indicating on what day and factory shift the item was produced. This
information can be vital in tracing a problem to its roots.
After you've reported the incident, wrap the product in a plastic bag
marked "Danger." Keep it refrigerated out of the reach of children.
Health officials may want to examine it to see if a product recall-where
the food is removed from stores and warehouses and consumers alerted to
the danger-is necessary.
Sal mineilla, 5-6
staj)hyl)occcus aureus, 5
growth rates -temperature chart,
beef, 11, 14, 17
botulism-signs of, 7, 23-24,
preserving suspect foods, 23, 28
buffet-style serving, 6, 9-10
C canned goods, commercial, 23-24
botulism in, 23
canning, home, 7, 24
chicken, 11, 14, 19
salmonella infection in, 5-6
with stuffing, 19
cold storage of meat, poultry (chart)
with freezer, refrigerator times, 14
cooking, 9-10, 11
frozen food, 10
partial cooking-advice against, 10
cooking temperatures of meat,
poultry (chart), 11
Cornish hen-cooking, stuffing, 19
D deboning of poultry before storing, 19
dressing, use with poultry, 19
dry ice, 25-26
duck, 11, 14, 19
F food illness, 5-7, 27-218
salmonella infection, 5-6
staph inftc'tin, 5
trichin -si:-, 16
reporting to health authllritie.-,
freezer burn, 12
freezer failure-coping, 25-26
frozen foods-wrapping, dating, &
thawing, 12-13, cooking, 10
fruits, high-acid canned--shelf-life,
G gravy-storing, 14, reheating, 10
growth of bacteria-chart on
"danger zone" temperatures, 8
H ham, 11, 14,18
hamburger, 11, 14, 17
home canning, 7, 24
botulism in, 7, 24
microwave ovens-don't use for
home canning, 16
reporting food illness in, 27-28
HOTLINE, on MEAT & POULTRY
-USDA's phone service for
kitchen cleanliness, 13-15
keeping pets, household pests out
of area, 15
towels & utensils, 15
E eggs, 21
egg-rich foods, 6, 21
:) labels, food, 13-15
leftovers-storing, 14, re-heating, 10
life-cycles of food poisoning bacteria,
lunch meat, 14, 20
marinades, marinating, 22
MEAT & POULTRY QUESTIONS
-using the USDA Hotline, 32
microwave ovens-how they work,
16, use with meat/poultry, 16
A, odor; off-spoilage sign in meat,
poultry, 4, 17
botulism warning in canned goods,
package dating-Sell-by, Use-by,
quantities of food, 6, 9-13
pets, pests-as carriers of food
poisoning bacteria, 15
F) refrigerator-coping with power
refrigeration-rules for perishable
foods, 12-13, Chart, 14
reporting food illness, 27-28
Rock Cornish hen-cooking,
wild rice dressing, 19
:- macaroni, potato, meat-
preparation, -r%-\ in,.
storing, 5, 9-10, 12-13,
serving foods-the 2-hour
shopping for perishable foods,
smell, odd-spoilage sign, 4,
botulism ', .irnirig. 24
-p.iilaL e. food-bacteria that
spores -botulinum, 7,
staph-Staph ylococcus aureus, 5
stuffing (poultry) -preparation,
serving & storing, 19
suspect food-reporting, 27-28,
refrigerating, 23, disposing of, 7
symptoms of food poisoning, 5-7
T tainted food-see "suspect"
temperature range for bacterial
thawing-safe procedures, 12-13
toxin production-staph, 5,
turkey. 11. 14,
stuffing & cooking, 19
SI use-by dates-for product quality,
S freih n-:., 13-15
23-24, botulism danger; 7, 24
For More Information
You Can Order
1. SAFE FOOD TO GO-A Home & Garden Bulletin
Guide to Packing Lunches, Number 242
Picnicking & Cooking Out January 1985
2. TALKING ABOUT Home & Garden Bulletin
TURKEY--How to Buy, Number 243
Store, Thaw, Stuff & Prepare July 1984
Your Holiday Bird
3. MEAT & POULTRY Home & Garden Bulletin
LABELS WRAP IT UP- Number 238
With What You Need to Know March 1984
Order publications 1-3 from: FSIS-Publications, Rm. 1163-S, U.S.
Dept. of Agriculture, Washington, DC 20250
4. LET'S COOK FISH- Order from:
Covers buying, storing & Supt. of Documents, GPO
preparing seafood. ($2.75, Washington, DC 20402
Stock No. 003-020-00053-3.)
On fish-Preventing bacterial U.S. Dept. of Commerce NOAA
and parasitic diseases you can National Marine Fisheries Service
get from eating fish: 3300 Whitehaven Ave.
Washington, DC 20235
On food other than meat or or call the:
poultry-safety, labeling & FDA Office of Consumer Affairs
ingredients: Look for an FDA HFE-88, 5600 Fishers Lane
listing in your town, Rockville, Md. 20857
On food handling, nutrition and storage questions:
Call the Cooperative Extension Service -listed in local phone books
under county government or State university.
7, u. Hoti e,
Call (202) 472-4485
Hotline staffers can answer your questions on the proper
handling of meat and poultry, how to tell if it's safe to eat, and
how to read meat and poultry labels. -
You can also call the hotline to report problems with meat
and poultry products-there are glass or metal fragments in
it, or it looks or smells strange.
Follow this procedure: First, refrigerate a, sample of the
product-if possible, in its original container Then tell the
store where you bought it about the problem. NOW call the
hotline. We'll tell you what you should do and whether health
authorities should be notified.
The hotline is staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EST) week-
days. If you call after hours, an answering machine takes your
name and number so someone can return your call.
You can also write to: The Meat and Poultry Hotline
USDA-FSIS, Rm. 1163-S
Washington, DC 20250.
Questions 1, 3 and 7 are TRUE, the rest are FALSE.
Why? For the reasons, see p. 3 for Question 1, p. 5 for 2, p. 8 for 3, p. 17
for 4, p. 23 for 5, pps. 12 and 22 for 6, and p. 15 for 7. Question 8 is FALSE
Only an estimated 1 to 2 percent of individual cases of food poisoning are
ever reported to health officials. Victims often just think they have the "flu."
They may not call a doctor, or the doctor may not be able to tell exactly what
they have -lab tests are often needed to diagnose food poisoning.
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