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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Food handeling practices

An Excerpt from A letter writen from survival blog:

Washing fruits and vegetables will rarely remove all the pesticides and bacteria, unless you use a food sanitizing liquid such as bleach water, which you may or may not have in such a situation. Washing removes any exterior contaminants, such as dirt, mud, rocks, etc. However, picking from a polluted field and washing the produce will do you no good and could seriously injure or kill you. Washing is still a good habit to use, but it cannot remove everything dangerous. Inspect the source or field first, if possible.

For meat temperatures, cooking "at" any temperature is relatively unimportant. Cooking "to" a final internal meat temperature is the important number. Obviously, cooking at 140 degrees will not allow you to reach an internal temperature of 165. Cooking at virtually any temperature higher than the desired final temperature will. The bottom line is, for any meat (beef, chicken, fish, etc) in a questionable situation, the final minimum internal temperature for safe consumption is 165 degrees, according to the USDA. The meat may finish with a grayish color, but some meats begin and end gray at virtually any temperature, depending upon the animal's diet. However, it is relevant to know that a 165 degree internal temperature is sometimes overkill. Whole pieces of meat (not including chicken) that have not been ground are generally quite safe at 145 degrees, according to the USDA's recently updated guidelines from a couple of days ago.

Ground meats are another set of rules. E-coli is killed at 155 degrees, and is the final minimum temperature for any ground meat, other than chicken.

Chicken is yet another different story. Optimally, a 165 degree internal temperature, ground or whole, taken at the bone, is the safest way to go. If you do not have a thermometer, cooking the meat "until juices run clear" is a reasonably safe bet. It was done that way for quite some time prior to thermometer usage. However, it is not always a safe alternative because any one person's definition of "clear" can vary vastly to another person's. Also, waiting for a clear juice depends upon whether there are bones in the chicken. Chicken bones can cause juices to run pink until a much higher temperature, even though the chicken is cooked.

Fish also has its own set of guidelines. Again, in a questionable situation, cook until completely opaque and preferably 145 degrees. Granted, in almost every case this will resort in very dry fish, but better dry than you being sick or dead. The term "flakey" is a little too vague unfortunately. Each fish has a different internal muscle structure and will become flaky at different final temperatures, if at all.

Hopefully this can educate folks out there. These are temperatures that are listed by the USDA as safety minimums. There are numerous other temperatures for "degrees of doneness," such as rare, medium rare, etc. Those are an entirely different article, though. - David B.

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