The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is offering 14 tips for a safe and healthy Valentine’s Day dinner, whether you eat out at a restaurant or at home.
About 65% of food poisoning outbreaks are traced to food prepared in a restaurant. When you go into a restaurant, first look at the scene. See if certificates are posted that show food safety practices, such as a health inspection score.Make sure that the glasses, silverware, napkins, and tablecloths are clean.
Watch out for unlikely sources of sodium. Most sodium comes from breads and rolls, cold cuts, cured meats, pizza, poultry, soups, sandwiches, cheese, pasta dishes, meat dishes, and snacks. Look up nutritional information in advance, since most major restaurant chains post this information online.
Always order the food thoroughly cooked. Rare burgers and rare of raw fish can make you sick from pathogenic bacteria or parasites. Cooking is the only way to ensure these foods are safe. And ask if raw or undercooked eggs are used in any of the menu items. Caesar salad, custards, and some sauces can contain this ingredient.
If you are taking home food from the restaurant, make sure you get it into the fridge within 2 hours. If you can’t get home within that time frame, leave the leftovers at the restaurant.
If you are eating in, choose low sodium options. Use seasonings and spices instead of salt, and do not buy prepackaged mixes that contain a lot of salt.
Keep hot food hot when you are cooking at home. Hot foods should always be held at 140°F or above to avoid the growth of pathogenic bacteria. The danger zone, between 40°F and 140°F is where bacteria can grow quickly, producing toxins. Always use a food thermometer when you are cooking meats, poultry, fish, and eggs.
Keep cold food cold! All chilled foods should be kept at 40°F or below to avoid bacterial growth. And follow the two hour rule at home as well. Throw away all perishable foods that have been at room temperature longer than two hours (one hour when the air temperature is above 90°F).