Tips to practice safe food prep, cooking - Tucson News Now

Tips to practice safe food prep, cooking

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By Brandon Murphy, Tucson News Now intern

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Cochise County Health and Social Services reminds residents to practice safe food preparation and cooking during this holiday season.

With many family members gathering at once, and the pressure to get a meal out on time, food safety practices usually fall by the wayside.

Officials said the elderly, children and anyone with a weakened immune system or chronic illness are at higher risks for developing food-borne illness. However, some of the following practices can greatly reduce this possibility.

1. Wash your hands thoroughly for a full 20 seconds with warm soapy water before and after handling food, as well as after using the toilet, diapering children, blowing your nose and playing with pets.

2. Check your refrigerator temperature. Use a thermometer to ensure your refrigerator holds foods safely, between 37 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit.  Warmer temperatures allow harmful bacteria to thrive and foods to spoil.  If you'll be cooking for a crowd and are short on refrigerator space, fill a cooler or two with ice to handle extra items.

3. Thaw frozen meat and poultry safely in your refrigerator or under cold water in the sink.  If you are really pressed for time, microwave thawing is fastest, but make sure you finish cooking any meat products immediately after thawing.  Defrosting any perishable food on the counter is dangerous because bacteria can thrive in the outer portions of the food before the inside thaws.

4. Prevent cross-contamination.  Keep raw meat and poultry and their drippings separate from other foods.  Note that it is not advisable to rinse the turkey in the sink before cooking.  Rinsing the bird only leads to spraying and splashing bacteria around the sink and drainboard area. Lastly, wash counters and cutting boards.

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