CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- No matter what you are cooking on Christmas Day, there are ways bacteria could grow on your food and potentially make your family sick. News 2 spoke to Clemson Food Safety Expert, Chad Carter, about important things to keep in mind while cooking to make sure your family has a happy and healthy holiday.
With so much food being prepared at once, Carter says it’s key to avoid cross-contamination.
He says, “We want to make sure that we’re not getting raw meat or raw meat juices sort of intermingled with our produce, or ready-to-eat foods, which are foods that don’t require any further cooking.”
That means washing and sanitizing your knives, counters, cutting boards, and sink after handling raw meat.
Carter says, “One easy way to make a sanitizing solution is by using one tablespoon of unscented chlorine bleach in one gallon or water. So it doesn’t take too much bleach in that water to make an effective sanitizer.”
Once the meat is cooking, make sure it’s cooked to the proper temperature.
Carter says, “We recommend everyone invest in an instant read thermometer. It’s not enough to use time tables or just guess when the food is done.”
He says it’s important to take the temperature from the thickest part of the meat.
Carter says, “For all poultry products, that’s going to be turkeys, chickens, things like that, minimum internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. For ground meat, that includes ground fish, ground beef, ground pork, we like to see those things cooked to 160 degrees minimum internal temperature. And for all other cuts of meat, like steaks and chops and things like that, that’s beef, pork, lamb and also fish, we like to see those things cooked to 145 degrees minimum temperature.”
He adds one of the most important tips is make sure you wash your hands in warm water with soap for at least 20 seconds before handling any food.