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Keep the fireworks in the skyPosted Friday, July 1, 2011, at 10:07 AM
Trichinosis! The word alone takes away my enjoyment of eating pork chops at Fourth of July picnics. A disease caused by roundworms, trichinosis can be transmitted through undercooked pork.
But trichinosis can easily be avoided. The USDA recently published new recommendations for cooking whole cuts of pork. The USDA recommends whole cuts be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F (ground pork should be cooked to 160°F). Once the pork reaches 145°F, the cook can remove the pork but should let it sit at least three minutes before serving. During these three minutes, the high internal temperature continues to kill pathogens. As with beef, veal, and lamb, the USDA now states pork can be served a little pink.
In addition to cooking whole cuts of pork to at least 145°F internally, be sure to wash your hands, countertops, and cutting boards with soap and water before beginning any food preparations. If soap and water are not available, use antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer.
If transporting food to a cookout, have a cooler designated for raw meats and another for drinks, salads, condiments, etc. If transporting all foods in one cooler, make sure to securely wrap raw meats to avoid cross contamination from the juices. Keep the cooler closed and below 40°F, and minimize the number of times it is opened.
When fixing meat, marinate in the refrigerator, not outdoors or on countertops. Discard marinade; do not reuse unless boiled. All ground meats, including pork, should still be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F; all poultry to an internal temperature of 165°F; fish until it flakes; shrimp, lobster, and crabs until pearly and opaque; things with shells until they open.
To avoid contamination of other foods with raw meat and uncooked juices, use a clean plate and spatula to take meat off the grill. Once meat is off the grill, it needs to be held at 140°F. If unable to hold at 140°F, throw meat out after two hours; one hour if the air temperature is above 90°F.
Keep salads in the refrigerator or in coolers until ready to serve. Be especially careful of salads made with eggs and other proteins. Bacteria like to grow on protein in the Danger Zone (40°- 140°F). If possible, keep salads below 40 degrees even when serving. If unable to serve below 40°F, throw salads out after 2 hours; one hour if the air temperature is above 90°F.
Enjoy your cookouts! May the fireworks stay in the sky and out of your stomachs.
From Worthington, Tracey is a Registered Dietitian. She currently lives in Arlington, Va., with her husband, Ed and three children, Lilly, Charlie, and Kate. For recipes, menu ideas, articles, and more, follow her on Facebook at Tracey Linneweber, RD. The information contained in this blog is not meant to substitute for your physician's advice.
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