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Stay Safe From The H1N1 Mexican Swine Flu: Food Safety Is Paramount

Updated on April 29, 2009

The standard USDA recommendations for food safety should be followed with even greater zeal during times of potential pandemic. To refresh everyone's memory, the guidelines are:

Clean: Always wash hands and surfaces that have come in contact with meat and poultry products before and after handling food.

Separate: Do not cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices away from other foods.

Cook: Using a food thermometer is the only sure way to know that meat and poultry have reached the proper temperature to inactivate bacteria and viruses.

Chill: Refrigerate or freeze all perishable food promptly.

However, there are some more practical tips that can help you stay safe from H1N1 or any other influenza type of virus, as well as other infectious agents. These tips are well worth paying close attention to and following religiously:

  • Rare hamburgers should never be eaten. Ever!
  • When dining at a buffet or potluck remember that you should never consume any type of perishable or refrigerated food that has been left at room temperature for a period of time which exceeds 2 hours. This time period decreases if it's warmer outside and becomes only an hour at 32 C / 90 F.
  • One third of all people admit to eating pizza the next day that has spent the night at room temperature! Don't do it!
  • With many supermarkets and delicatessens placing small samples of food out for tasting, most people don't realize that those tasty little nuggets have come into contact with the potentially contaminated fingers of countless other customers.
  • There is a very easy rule for tartares, carpacci, sushi, sashimis, and raw shellfish: Don't eat them!
  • Some dried or cured meats can harbour countless germs. Avoid them during times of potential pandemic.
  • Who is the gourmet chef who decreed that duck at pricy restaurants should be served rare? He/she should be made to eat it! You should never attempt to eat any poultry unless all of its cooked juices are running clear and don't have a single trace of blood at all. Rare fowl, birds, or poultry of any kind is a one way express ticket to the morgue.
  • Some old-world recipes such as Sauerbraten call for foods to be marinated at room temperature, some for as long as several days.
  • Don't purchase produce with mould, bruises or cuts.
  • Keep your foods fresh. Don't stock up at bulk stores.

Get a calibrated thermometer and use it whenever you're cooking anything.

Egg casseroles: 160 F / 71 C
Egg sauces, custards: 160 F / 71 C
Beef, Veal, Lamb, Pork: 160 F / 71 C
Ham Fresh (raw): 160 F / 71 C
Ham Fully cooked (to reheat): 140 F / 60 C
Chicken, Turkey, Duck, Goose: 180 F / 82 C
Stuffing, cooked alone or in bird: 165 F / 74 C

When you're preparing egg dishes, like quiche or casseroles, make absolutely sure that the entire preparation reaches a minimum of 160 F / 71 C all the way through.

Remember: Runny poached eggs, sunnyside ups, Caesar salad and sabayons using eggs that are either raw or barely cooked are a direct conduit for H1N1 into your system.

Continued in:
Stay Safe From The H1N1 Mexican Swine Flu: Public Toilets Can Kill

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