Last weekend my hubby and I enjoyed a great date night. There was chatting, drinking and of course eating. Unfortunately, what I ate didn't sit so well with me and I ended up sick the whole next day! No. Fun. I spent much of the day lying in bed racking my dietitian brain as to the source of food poisoning....was it the undercooked egg on my salad? The New York Steak? Truth is, I won't know for sure. But I do know that it was likely due to a food temperature issue.
As a dietitian who cooks for her family and works in a skilled nursing facility (i.e. nursing home), I know that food temperatures are super important to protect my family and the residents I work with. Cooking food to the proper temperature reduces the amount of nasty bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
At the skilled nursing facility, I spend a fair amount of time surveying the kitchen, making sure all the food is cooked to the correct temperatures to ensure the elderly residents are served food that is safe to eat. At home, I know that children are at greater risk for food poisoning, so I make sure to prepare food safely.
The temperature zone that bacteria grows the best is 41-135 degrees Farenheit and is known in Food Safety Nerd-land as the "Danger Zone". Okay, there's no Food Safety Nerd-land (except the one in my head)....but there really is something called the temperature "Danger Zone".
The only way you can know for sure if your meat is done is to check the temperature. In my Safe Cooking 101 post, I encouraged buying a meat thermometer. Have you got one yet? They're so handy!
Another plus to cooking foods to the correct temperature is that - in the case of meat products - they're juicy and tender. Chicken doesn't deserve to be served dry!
The pictures I took show you the minimum cooking temperatures for chicken, fish and cooked vegetables, but for a complete reference, check out this guide from foodsafety.gov
I say all this because healthy food isn't healthy unless it's safe to eat. Happy - and safe - cooking!