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Reminders for Avoiding Food Bourne Illness

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December 26, 2018

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Taylor: Today we're talking about reminders for avoiding food-bourne illness. Hello, I'm Amy Taylor, and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Byron Williams, Mississippi State University Extension associate professor of food safety. 

Byron, when we're talking about being safe whenever we cook or have social gatherings, whether it's just for dinner or whether it's a cookout, there are several things we need to remember, and timing is the first one, right?

Byron Williams: Sure, Amy. In the south particularly, mostly all year round, is acceptable for cooking outdoors, preparing, having meals outside, even sometimes in the wintertime with temperature. So, even so that it may be cooler or it may be extremely hot, we need to take many extra precautions about preparing food, and it being outdoors, it's easy to forget and leave things out too long.

Amy Taylor: Even if it is cold and we think that our food is going to be fresh, we should still remember that. So, when it comes to camping or tailgating, what should we remember about transporting food?

Byron Williams: Amy, the most important thing is protection of the food and the temperature. Certainly we want to keep cold foods cold until we get to the place of preparation, and then serving the food, we have certain temperatures that we want to do that. But, the big thing is storage of those foods while we're doing the transporting. Use frozen ice packs. If you're going to be extended period of time and ice is not going to maintain, consider freezing bottles of water, milk jugs of water and frozen. Big chunks of ice stay a lot longer than crushed or cubed ice.

Amy Taylor: So of course, just because we're keeping the cold foods cold and the hot foods hot doesn't necessarily mean that we can leave them all night long out for people to use.

Byron Williams: That's correct. There are certain time periods, of course, during transportation and during wait times until we get ready to prepare. Cold foods should be kept certainly less than 40 degrees. After they are prepared and for serving and for a short period of time a couple hours afterwards, we want to keep those foods at 140 or greater, and those are degrees Fahrenheit. I encourage everyone to use a thermometer. Thermometers are relatively inexpensive and it's very cheap insurance.

Amy Taylor: Now, what should we remember about cleanliness? And this is whether we are at home or outside.

Byron Williams: Cleanliness is super critical. Whether you're picnicking, whether you're camping, whether you're just cooking at home, we want to be sure that our hands and utensils are properly cleaned and that we clean them in between uses so that we do not cross-contaminate with raw foods being contaminated back to cooked foods. So, if you're outdoors, either take water with you, or if you have a water source, boil that water to make it safe to either drink or to use for cleaning, and that must be boiled for one minute at a rolling boil or more.

Amy Taylor: Okay, that's really good to know. Now, internal temperatures for meat items.

Byron Williams: Basically, all poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit or better. That includes ground poultry, whole muscle poultry. All other ground meat, at least 160 degrees internal temperature. Beef, pork, and lamb; steaks, roasts, and other whole muscle items; cooked to 145 minimum, but let it stand for three minutes at that temperature to be safe. Any tenderized products, those that are cube steaks or tenderized steaks, be sure to cook those to 160 degrees internal.

Amy Taylor: Okay, and why the extra precaution with the ground meats and tenderized meats?

Byron Williams: Those products have been co-mingled and any external bacteria that's on there has been co-mingled all the way throughout that product and it enhances the ability of those bacteria to grow and multiply much faster, and the outside is carried inside so we have to cook it to a higher temperature.

Amy Taylor: Now, there are some food safety trainings that you want to talk about, so what's coming up?

Byron Williams: Two things. One is a HACCP certification, primarily for food processors, not only meat and poultry but other general food processors. We'll be on campus in the Bost Conference Center October 13 through the 15th. Registration can be online at Follow the links under Other Events to register, or give me a call. Also, upcoming in late October will be a deer processing general safety tips and processing parameters, to be determined on a final date and location but it can also be found at that same website.

Amy Taylor: Today we've been speaking with Byron Williams, associate professor in food safety. I'm Amy Taylor and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

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