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Thursday, July 2, 2015

We Meat at Last

Memorial Day Weekend, The 4th of July, and County Fairs, the age of BBQ is upon us and there’s nothing as American as grilling on the back porch with friends in summer. Today the American food supply is among the safest in the world, however that doesn’t mean that foodborne illness isn’t a major risk for consumers. In fact, the Federal Government estimates that there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually—the equivalent of sickening 1 in 6 Americans each year. And each year these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. In order to prevent foodborne illness it’s important to remember safe meal preparations, and some of these listed on this blog may not be as common as you think.

Premature Browning and Persistent Pink

Myoglobin is an iron- and oxygen-binding protein found in the muscle tissue of vertebrates  and plays a large role in determining beef color in the raw and cooked state or meat. When exposed to air, myoglobin forms the pigment, oxymyoglobin, which gives meat a cherry-red color.
Premature Browning occurs when meat appears brown on the outside, but hasn’t achieved a safe internal temperature. Some ground beef patties can develop an internal, brown cooked color and look well-done at temperatures as low as 131 ̊F.

Consumers view ground beef patties that are pink in the middle as being undercooked and unsafe when these patties may be fully cooked and safe to eat, this process is called persistent pinkness. As long as the internal temperature on meat products has reached 160 ̊F (165 ̊F for Poultry Products) then it’s safe to consume. Remember, you can’t tell whether meat is safely cooked by looking at it, always have a meat thermometer ready to use.

Cross Contamination

Cross-contamination occurs when harmful bacteria from one food crosses on to another. Cross contamination occurs when handling raw meat, especially poultry meat, because it contains more liquid than other meats. Unfortunately, there is no way of telling that meat is contaminated with Campylobacter or Salmonella. Therefore, it is advisable to treat all meat as potentially contaminated. When handling meats it’s important to have separate utensils that handle the meat in both raw and cooked state, this includes plates, tongs, and other utensils. Also, it’s important to keep other foods away from raw meat when preparing foods including using separate chopping boards.


It’s common to forget to thaw something for dinner and some consumers grab a package of meat or chicken and use hot water to thaw it fast. And for some consumers who remembered to take food out of the freezer, leave the package on the counter all day. Neither of these situations is considered safe, and these methods of thawing may lead to foodborne illness. Raw or cooked meat, poultry or egg products, as any perishable foods, must be kept at a safe temperature during thawing. As soon as meat begins to thaw and become warmer than 40 °F, bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to multiply.

Perishable foods 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 the package may still be frozen as it thaws on the counter, the outer layer of the food could be in the "Danger Zone," between 40 and 140 °F — temperatures where bacteria multiply rapidly. When thawing frozen food, it's best to plan ahead and thaw in the refrigerator where it will remain at a safe, constant temperature — at 40 °F or below. There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave, cook meat that has been thawed in the microwave immediately.

Grilling meat is fun, and shouldn’t cause problems for your family or friends this summer. Follow these tips and your BBQ and smoking days should be a breeze, don’t and you’ll make a “missed steak."



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