What are some steps I can take to ensure my home is food safe?
Here are some steps we can all take to ensure our homes are food safe:
- Cleanliness is key: wash your hands thoroughly before cooking, during cooking and after cooking, especially when switching between handling different foods. Wash with soap and water for 20 seconds -- that's 2 choruses of 'Happy Birthday'.
- Wash fruit and veggies, but not meat and poultry. Be sure to wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly in cool drinkable water, including those you peel or cut like melons, oranges, and cucumbers. Do not wash meats and poultry, this spreads raw meat juices to other surfaces in your kitchen – something you want to avoid.
- Keep things cool: don’t bring meats up to room temperature before grilling or thaw at room temperature. This is a common 'cooking show' recommendation that really has no benefits and is loaded with the risk of promoting the growth of harmful bacteria. Keep foods chilled in the fridge at 4°C until ready to cook - and that includes marinating too.
- Cook meats and poultry to proper safe temperature using a food thermometer to take measure doneness. Cooking by colour is not a reliable way to know when meats are done. Use a digital instant read food thermometer to test for doneness. It's a simple step that gives you the assurance your meat has reached a high enough internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria.
- Use different cooking utensils when switching between cooked and raw foods OR wash thoroughly when you do the switch. When you use the barbecue tongs for flipping steaks, burgers, chicken, kabobs etc during cooking, be sure to wash them up before using them to take foods off the grill to serve. Or better yet, have 2 pairs of tongs - 1 for raw and 1 for cooked. The same goes for cutting boards and lifters!
For your copy of the Complete Guide to Food Safety at Home click here to download PDF.
For more information and tips on how to keep your home food-safe, visit www.befoodsafe.ca.
I’ve heard about mechanically tenderized or needled meat, what does that mean?
What is Mechanical Tenderization? Mechanical tenderization can be done in-home or before sale as a way to improve the tenderness and overall eating quality of meat. It involves cutting through the muscle fibres and connective tissue before cooking. Mechanical tenderization in-home can be as basic as piercing meat all over with a fork before marinating. Mechanical tenderizing is not used by all processors or retailers or with all beef cuts.
What is meant by "needled beef"? This type of mechanical tenderization uses a set of fine needles to pierce the roast or steak. Ask the meat counter staff if they carry beef that is mechanically tenderized as sometimes it is not obvious. With ’needling’, the meat looks virtually the same as meat that has NOT been tenderized.
Jaccarding is a term used in reference to a specific needle tenderizing device (made by Jaccard). Cubing and delicating and pounding are other mechanical methods used to improve the tenderness of beef cuts both at home and for sale. With cubing, small blades on rollers are run over the steak surface giving it a ‘chopped’ look and texture.
What is E.coli 0157:H7 and where can it be found?
E.coli 0157:H7 can be present in raw meat, poultry, unpasteurized milk and fruit juices, raw greens and vegetables, and even water. For more details, see this factsheet.
What do I do if I have recalled food products at home?
The CFIA has the most current recommendations posted on their website. Click here.
I’ve bought beef that isn’t on the recall list, is it safe to eat?
Yes. Always follow safe food handling recommendations in your home, cooking beef to proper temperatures, and ensuring there is no cross contamination between raw and cooked foods. Click here for more details.
We hope this information helps. If you have further questions on how to cook Canadian beef or safe food handling, please email our kitchen experts at email@example.com.