Meat & Seafood Safety
Meat and seafood should always be cooked thoroughly to prevent foodborne illness. If you, your partner or a close family member is cooking, it may be easier to ensure the meat is cooked appropriately — you can use this chart as a temperature guideline. If you’re attending the party as a guest, however, you won’t can’t be certain the meat has been well cooked. While internal temperature reading is the only definitive way of knowing meat’s doneness, there are also visual and touch methods you can use to check the meat/seafood for doneness before eating.
Meat that is cooked using a slow cooker, dutch oven, or pressure cooker is more likely to be cooked thoroughly due to the cooking process.
For beef that is roasted, baked or grilled, look for little to no pink and use the touch test — a well done piece of beef should feel the same as when you press your finger to your forehead. Pork and lamb that is well done can also be tested using the same finger press test.
For poultry, you should notice “shrinkage,” which means the piece of meat is noticeably smaller than when it was raw, and if you cut into it with a sharp knife, the juices should run clear. You can also use the same touch test as described above for beef.
Fish, which is usually transparent when raw, should appear opaque all the way through. Shrimp curls up and turns a bright pink color when cooked thoroughly. You’ll know scallops are done if the flesh bounces back when poked with a fork instead of feeling mushy.
Meat that has been left sitting out for more than 2 hours should not be consumed and should not be saved for leftovers.
Failing to wash your hands and properly wash cutting boards and knives in between food preparation is a major contributing factor to foodborne illness. Wash your hands, cutting boards, and all utensils after handling uncooked meat and seafood, as well as unwashed fruit and vegetables. Be sure to wash all fruit and vegetables before serving and cooking.
Foods that are meant to be eaten cold need to stay cold. Anything that contains dairy products, as well as cold cuts, eggs, and mayonnaise-based dishes, should not be consumed after sitting out beyond 1-2 hours. Leftovers that are refrigerated within that time limit can be safely eaten later. Foods kept at a temperature of 40°F or lower will reduce your risk of food poisoning.
In addition to the food safety basics described above, following a couple of simple tips like eating early after arriving or when the food is set out, and sticking to foods that have a lower risk of causing illness like leafy salads, guacamole (unless it contains mayo), fresh fruit, breads, and cookies.