Food Safety and the Civil Justice System, a recently published landmark study by the American Association for Justice, traces a growing number of serious foodborne illnesses to questionable practices by some large factory farms [download report]. Overcrowding and unsanitary conditions increase the chances of bacterial contamination entering the food supply. Overuse of pharmaceuticals and chemicals to prevent disease in livestock and produce have also been associated with the rise in “super bugs,” bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics. Diseased livestock, improperly handled produce and poor government oversight all add to the problem.
Contamination at this level won’t be prevented without the help of improved government oversight and a robust civil justice system that continues to hold wrongdoers accountable. You can, however, lessen the chances of food poisoning in your home as follows:
Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill
While preparing any meal, remember these four steps from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to keep bacteria away from food, utensils and yourself.
- Wash: Clean hands and surfaces often. Illness-causing bacteria can collect on hands, utensils and surface areas. Also wash fruits and vegetables, but not meats.
- Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate foods. Raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs can still spread harmful bacteria to ready-to-eat items if they aren’t kept separate. Use one cutting board for fresh produce and another for raw meat, poultry and seafood.
- Cook: Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of cooked foods. Check temperatures in several places to make sure that meat, poultry, seafood, eggs (or dishes containing eggs) are cooked to safe minimum internal temperatures as shown in the Safe Cooking Temperatures Chart.
- Chill: Illness-causing bacteria can grow in perishable foods in just two hours. Refrigerate foods promptly and properly, and throw out food before it begins to spoil.
Tips for On-Time Turkey Time
Is your Thanksgiving often interrupted by multiple trips to the grocery store, or worse yet, a bird that isn’t done when guests are ready to eat? What about sorting out all those leftovers? Well, then you should check out this handy guide from FoodSafety.gov with tips on how to streamline your schedule – from shopping to preparation to cooking to storing leftovers – and ensure a safe, delicious Thanksgiving dinner at your home.
The United States of Thanksgiving
The turkey is safely prepped and the kitchen is sparkling clean. What next? The New York Times recently investigated something that all Americans can agree on – Thanksgiving dinner! Here are 52 recipes representing each state as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico. See what neighbors are cooking, or find a dish for guests traveling from afar. You might even add a new favorite to your annual feast.
This article appeared in our November 2016 "You Should Know" e-newsletter.