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Laura Trivers's picture

I love flipping through cookbooks to get ideas for dinner from the glossy pictures and the enticing descriptions of the meals I could create with the right ingredients in my pantry and fridge and a few more minutes in my day.

But, as the communications director for the food safety non-profit, the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention, for the past three years, often times reading recipes makes me cringe because of all the food safety mistakes.

Would you like a side of foodborne illness with that?  Chefs get kudos for tasty dishes, but all too often, they get a failing grade at food safety.  In fact, at least one academic paper has been written on the food safety errors on cooking shows.  But, that’s a blog for another day.

What mistakes do I see most often?

  • Rinse the chicken inside and out. No, never. Rinsing the chicken or any raw meat can splash pathogen-filled water around your kitchen, giving you more cleanup and risking cross contaminating something else. Just put the chicken or meat directly into the pan or marinade (and if you want to re-use the marinade as a sauce, reheat to a rolling boil first or set aside extra marinade before it touches raw meat and use that as a sauce).
  • Cook the chicken for 10 minutes a side. But, how will you know it’s done?  You have to use a digital meat thermometer to make sure your chicken has reached 165°.  Check out CFI’s Safe Temperature Chart.
  • The chicken is done when the juices run clear or sauté until browned.  Again, the chicken is safe to eat at 165°.  Color is not an indicator of doneness.
  • Cook burgers until rare or medium or anything other than to 160°.  Burgers are safe to eat when the internal temperature is 160°.  Use a digital meat thermometer or pick up the one-time use safe burger sticks at the meat counter of your grocery store.
  • Using raw eggs in frostings, salad dressings and sauces or suggesting runny- yolked fried eggs or wet omelets.  You know better.  If you can’t imagine Caesar salad dressing without the raw egg, buy pasteurized eggs.  They are also a good option if you can’t resist tasting cake batter or cookie dough or like your eggs soft boiled.

Search your cookbooks for great meal ideas and the latest recipes.  Just don’t look to chefs and cookbook writers to keep your family safe.  That’s up to you.  Check out CFI’s website for more information.


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