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Health Department encourages residents to practice proper food safety

CG Health at Mohawk Square
CG Health at Mohawk Square

MASON CITY – The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health has recently confirmed several cases of Salmonella. Food Inspectors with the Health Department would like to remind the public about proper food handling practices to prevent food borne illnesses.

“With the recent outbreaks happening throughout Iowa, we wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone that food safety is incredibly important and following these guidelines will help to keep you healthy,” said Brian Hanft, Environmental Health Service Manager, Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health.

First: Clean
First things first – make sure you start with clean surfaces and clean hands. Be sure that you and your guests wash your hands before preparing or handling food. Hands should be washed with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Equally important are the surfaces that come in contact with raw and cooked foods – make sure they are clean before you start and are washed frequently.

Second: Separate
Raw meats and poultry should be prepared separately from vegetables and cooked foods. As you chop meats and veggies, be sure to use separate cutting boards. Juices from raw meats can contain harmful bacteria that could spread to raw veggies and already cooked foods.

Third: Cook
Never begin grilling without your most important tool, a food thermometer. Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often brown quickly and may appear done on the outside, but still may not have reached a safe minimum internal temperature to kill any harmful bacteria. Pork, lamb, veal and whole cuts of beef should be cooked to 145 °F as measured by a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, followed by a three-minute rest time before carving or consuming.

Hamburgers and other ground beef should reach 160 °F. All poultry should reach a minimum temperature of 165 °F. Fish should be cooked to 145 °F. Fully cooked meats like hot dogs should be grilled to 165 °F or until steaming hot.

As you take the cooked meats off the grill, be sure to place them on a clean platter, not on the dish that held them when they were raw. The juices left on the plate from raw meat can spread bacteria to safely cooked food.

If you prefer to prepare meats using a smoker, the temperature in the smoker should be maintained between 225 °F and 300 °F for safety. Be sure to use your food thermometer to be certain the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature.

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