From the Pa. Health Dept: Four tips for a food-poisoning free Memorial Day

By: - May 26, 2019 6:30 am

Memorial Day.

It’s the time for Bruce Springsteen on repeat. And it’s the time for shooting quizzical looks in the direction of your uncle, the one who thinks rocking a Guy Fieri Hawaiian shirt gifts him mastery of charcoal — even when he hands you a questionably pink piece of grilled chicken.

Before tucking into lukewarm potato salad or half-cooked hot dogs, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has some sage advice to make sure that any mid-afternoon retching is prompted by the the godawful play of the Baltimore Orioles, and not poor food hygiene.

Their advice boils down to four words — clean, separate, cook and chill. Be sure to thoroughly wash hands, utensils, raw produce, and preparation spaces before cooking.

Also, use separate cutting boards, plates, and knives for raw meat, and keep your burgers and brats as far apart from other foods as the Orioles are from the rest of the American League East in the standings.

Once the grill is fired up and ready to go, make sure you are cooking the meat to the proper internal temperature. While beef tartare and carpaccio may be delicacies, don’t let any relative convince you that their culinary ineptitude is actually “Top Chef” level genius.

A whole piece of beef, pork, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by three minutes of rest before carving. (If your Memorial Day tradition includes a rack of lamb, please contact the author with the address of your shindig so he can verify this claim.)

Cook your ground meats, such as beef and pork, to 160 degrees. Poultry, such as ground chicken and turkey, should be cooked to 165 degrees. We’d assume that would include ostrich for any of you real foodies out there.

Leftovers and casseroles should be cooked to 165 degrees, while fresh ham should be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Fish should be cooked to 145 degrees, or until flesh is opaque.

While we’re sure your family’s grillmeister has a time-honored trick to judge how done the meat is just by look, only a meat thermometer is sure to do the trick.

Once you’re done with the feast, make sure to promptly put away any leftovers — as quickly as the New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman can put away the Orioles lineup in the bottom of the ninth.

Also, avoid thawing food at room temperature, which encourages bacteria growth. Instead, thaw in cold water, the refrigerator, or the microwave.

With these tips in mind, we wish you a holiday weekend free from anything but food, family, and fun — though if you are an Orioles fan, we recognize the latter is likely near impossible.

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.