Safe Handling and Cooking of Meats, Milk and Eggs
Meat, milk and eggs and the staples of our lives, but to avoid food
poisoning or foodborne illness, it's important to understand how to
safely store, handle and cook them. In addition to the precautions
below, be sure to see the page on
proper cooking temperatures.
- KEEP IT CLEAN: Wash your hands and food
preparation surfaces often, before and after handling meats.
- SEPARATE RAW FROM COOKED: Don't
cross-contaminate! When handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and
eggs, keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat
- COOK TO THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE: Cook to proper
temperature. See the Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart for details on
cooking meats, poultry, eggs, leftovers, and casseroles.
- REFRIDGERATE PROMPTLY: At room
temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes. The
more bacteria there are, the greater the chance you could become
sick. So, refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures
keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying.
FoodSafety.gov has pages for safety about each of the
following meat, milk and eggs:
Raw meat may contain bacteria, such as E.
and listeria, or parasites.
It typically comes from the slaughterhouse, when the meat is cut
up. Most contamination is on the poutser surfaces, but
ground meats must be considered to be contaminated throughout
(since the outer and inner sides are mixed). Thorough cooking destroys these harmful organisms, but meat can
become contaminated again if it is not handled and stored
in a cold fridge properly.
Turkey, like chicken is especially susceptible to salmonella
and must be cooked to higher temperatures than, say, beef or
fish. Turkeys should not have the cavity filled with stuffing,
prepare this dish separately. And as soon as the turkey cools
enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and promptly
Chicken and Other
Poultry may contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella, listeria,
Washing chicken and other poultry does not remove bacteria., it
is inside and throughout the meat. You
can only kill these bacteria by cooking chicken to the proper
Like raw meat, raw seafood may contain bacteria that can be
destroyed only by cooking. Some seafood, especially older,
larger fish, like shark and tuna, may also contain toxins
such as mercury which may be harmful for young children or an
Milk, Cheese, and
Raw milk, as well as cheeses made with raw milk, may
That’s why it’s important to make sure that milk has been
which kills harmful bacteria WITHOUT harming the nutritional
value - don't listen to the tin-foil hat crowd; the scientific
studies - and the illness and fatalities from drinking raw milk
- prove them wrong over and over. .
Eggs and Egg Products
Fresh eggs must be handled carefully. FDA/UDSA rules require
commercial eggs to be washed... but that also allows
contamination to enter the egg as the egg naturally comes with
its own protective coating. So, even eggs with clean,
uncracked shells may occasionally contain salmonella.
To prevent food poisoning, keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs
until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.