Commentary: Too many cooks in the kitchen? Not when safety counts!

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Brittany Turner, 111th ATKW food service shift leader
  • 111th Attack Wing
As food service professionals, we apply copious sanitation and safety procedures during our daily operations in order to avoid illness, protect ourselves and others while producing the best product possible. Even though we prep, cook and serve on a large scale, there are many procedures and precautions that can be applied in your personal kitchen that will enhance your sanitation and safety! With the upcoming season of food -- the holiday season, we would like to share a couple important practices that will help protect you and your family from foodborne illnesses.

When you are whipping up your holiday favorites, it's important to make sure that your food is cooked thoroughly. You do this for flavor and texture purposes, but most importantly to reduce risk of foodborne illnesses. This is especially important in the preparation of meat items. Below are some basic temperature guidelines to follow when determining when your items are done. When you are taking the temperature of items, insert the thermometer into the center of the thickest portion to make sure you get the truest temperature. Allow time for the thermometer to read the temperature and if it meets the guidelines below, it is ready to be served!

Temperature Guidelines
Poultry: 165˚F
Beef: 160˚F
Pork: 145˚F
Leftover: 165˚F

Once you have served your beautiful meal and your family is relaxing on full bellies, you are now faced with the task of packing up the leftovers and playing refrigerator Tetris. The next time you face this task we want you to keep some key things in mind. It is best to group like-items together while making sure that raw meats are below ready-to-eat foods. It's popular to put fruits and vegetables in the drawers on the bottom of the refrigerator. The problem is when you are marinating raw meat or letting raw meat thaw in the fridge, it is now over your fresh produce. You don't want the raw meat juices to seep down and contaminate your fresh produce.

The order of food items, starting from the bottom of the fridge, should be as follows: poultry, pork/beef, ready to eat foods, fresh vegetables/fruits. If you apply these tips into your routine it will help reduce risk of food borne illness.

From our kitchen to yours, enjoy your holiday meals the safest way possible!