Routt County CSU Extension: Would your kitchen pass inspection?
June 11, 2017
Would your kitchen pass a food safety inspection? If you enjoy eating in our local restaurants, then you benefit from the partnership between local restauranteurs and the Routt County Environmental Health Department to keep your food safe to eat. While your home kitchen doesn't get these rigorous inspections, it should at least pass consumer guidelines for food safety.
Answer these nine questions to see if your kitchen measures up. While restaurant inspections involve very specific regulations, consumers can follow these different guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.
- Question: How long do you leave perishable foods (meat, dairy products, leftovers) at room temperature?
Answer: Two hours or less: Illness-causing bacteria can grow to dangerous levels within two hours at room temperature. Refrigerate foods within one hour when the temperature is 90 degrees or above.
- Question: What is the temperature of your home refrigerator?
Answer: 40 degrees or below. Your refrigerator should be between 40 to 32 degrees F. Your freezer should be at 0 degrees. Stop by the Routt County Extension office for a free refrigerator/freezer thermometer to assure your appliances are cold enough.
- Question: How do you thaw meat, poultry and seafood products?
Answer: Defrost meats in a refrigerator, microwave or under cold running water. It is unsafe to thaw meats on the kitchen counter at room temperature.
- Question: How many days do you usually store perishable leftovers in the refrigerator?
Answer: Leftovers should be eaten within three to four days or frozen in an airtight, freezer-quality container.
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- Question: When using a cutting board, if you're cutting raw meat or poultry, what do you do before cutting fresh produce or bread before the same meal?
Answer: Wash cutting boards in a dishwasher unless the manufacturer recommends otherwise. The best solution is to have one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate cutting board for raw meat, poultry or seafood to prevent cross contamination.
- Question: How do you determine whether you have cooked meat, poultry and seafood to a safe temperature?
Answer: The best way to determine doneness is to measure the internal temperature. You can't tell if meat is cooked safely by simply looking at it. Use a food thermometer, and cook meats to the USDA's recommended temperatures: Steak, chops and roasts of meat should be cooked to 145 degrees F, ground meats should be cooked to 160 degrees F, all cuts of poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F, and fish and shellfish should be cooked to 145 degrees F.
- Question: What is the recommended method of handwashing when working with food?
Answer: Rub your hands together with soap and warm running water; continue rubbing hands for at least 20 seconds, rinse and dry.
- Question: What is the best way to handle raw poultry and meat as you prepare to cook?
Answer: Move poultry and meat directly from the package to the cooking surface without rinsing. Rinsing uncooked poultry in a kitchen sink can spread bacteria as the juices splash and contaminate your sink and countertops.
- Question: Before eating melons, what is the first thing you do?
Answer: Wash melons thoroughly under running water before cutting into them.
Karen Massey is director of the Routt County CSU Externsion Office.