Sunday, March 25, 2012


Let's face it. In spite of all the precautions taken these days in slaughterhouses and in processing of meat, it can still contain bacteria when it reaches us consumers. That is particularly the case with ground meat, or ground meat products such as meat patties. But it can happen with any kind of meat or poultry. Some of these bacteria are harmless, but others can be dangerous. The E.coli 0157:H7 bacteria that turned up recently in the U.S. beef patties imported from Canada (see previous post) is an example.

So what can we do to avoid them? First, simply assume that all raw meat and poultry has bacteria in it, and treat it that way.

• Refrigerate raw meat within two hours of purchase, or, within one hour if the temperature is above 90° F. Make sure it is away from other foods and that the juices do not leak.
• Unwrap the meat carefully from any wrapping paper or packaging, trying not to touch the meat itself, or touch the inside of the wrap, and discard the packaging immediately.
• If you can't use utensils and have to use your hands, then either wear disposable gloves (washing the outside first) or be careful to wash your hands vigorously afterwards (to dislodge tiny pieces or smears of fat or meat), using warm or hot water and soap.
• Make sure the meat does not touch or drip on any surface. If it does, clean up right away.
• Prepare the meat on a non-porous cutting board or dish (not a wood cutting board).
• Wash cutting boards, dishes and any utensils that you used with hot, soapy water as soon as you finish with them.
• Keep any raw meat or poultry and their juices away from any other foods that will be eaten raw (such as salads) while preparing food.
• Thoroughly cook meat such as ground beef to an internal temperature of 160° F, as measured with a food thermometer.
• Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.

To your good health,


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