With the recent closure of 43 Chipolte restaurant chains in the Pacific Northwest due to an E. coli outbreak, food-borne illnesses have been in the news. Food-borne infections pose a real hazard and safety concern. According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC) 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of food-borne diseases each year. Given these statistics, it is vital that you practice proper food safety techniques.
The holiday season is here and folks will be cooking larger quantities of food for family gatherings. Also, folks are more generous this time of year. You, your neighbors and coworkers will be sharing homemade treats and meals. Therefore with the holiday season upon us, what better time to discuss proper methods of thawing perishable foods. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides great tips on proper methods of thawing food. Here are three critical points you should know:
- As soon as raw or cooked meat, poultry or egg products begin to thaw and become warmer than 40 degrees F, bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to multiply.
- Perishable food should never be thawed on the counter or in hot water and must not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. Even though the center of a package may still be frozen as it thaws on the counter, the outer layer of the food could be in the “danger zone,” betweeen 40 and 140 degrees F–temperatures where bacteria multiply rapidly.
- The USDA recommends the following as the safest methods to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water and in the microwave
- Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. A large frozen turkey requires at least 24 hours for every 5 pounds to thaw in the refrigerator.
For detailed information on safe thawing methods please read The Big Thaw article from the USDA. Practicing proper thawing techniques will keep you, your friends and family safe.