View Full Version : *****Food Storage and safety*****

02-09-2009, 01:27 AM
Chicken Inspection
All chickens found in retail stores are either inspected by USDA or by state systems which have standards equivalent to the Federal government. Each chicken and its internal organs are inspected for signs of disease. The "Inspected for wholesomeness by the U.S. Department of Agriculture" seal insures the chicken is free from visible signs of disease.

Chicken Grading
Inspection is mandatory but grading is voluntary. Chickens are graded according to USDA Agricultural Marketing Service regulations and standards for meatiness, appearance and freedom from defects. Grade A chickens have plump, meaty bodies and clean skin, free of bruises, broken bones, feathers, cuts and discoloration.
Fresh or Frozen
The term fresh on a poultry label refers to any raw poultry product that has never been below 26 F. Raw poultry held at 0 F or below must be labeled frozen or previously frozen. No specific labeling is required on raw poultry stored at temperatures between 0-25 F.
Dating of Chicken Products
Product dating is not required by Federal regulations, but many stores and processors voluntarily date packages of chicken or chicken products. If a calendar date is shown, immediately adjacent to the date there must be a phrase explaining the meaning of that date such as sell by or use before.

The use-by date is for quality assurance; after the date, peak quality begins to lessen but the product may still be used. It's always best to buy a product before the date expires. If a use-by date expires while the chicken is frozen, the food can still be used.

Hormones & Antibiotics
No hormones are used in the raising of chickens.
Antibiotics may be given to prevent disease and increase feed efficiency. A "withdrawal" period is required from the time antibiotics are administered before the bird can be slaughtered. This ensures that no residues are present in the bird's system. FSIS randomly samples poultry at slaughter and tests for residues. Data from this monitoring program have shown a very low percentage of residue violations.
Additives are not allowed on fresh chicken. If chicken is processed, however, additives such as MSG, salt, or sodium erythorbate may be added but must be listed on the label.
Foodborne Organisms Associated with Chicken
As on any perishable meat, fish or poultry, bacteria can be found on raw or undercooked chicken. They multiply rapidly at temperatures between 40 F and 140 F (out of refrigeration and before thorough cooking occurs). Freezing doesn't kill bacteria but they are destroyed by thorough cooking.

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has a zero tolerance for bacteria in cooked and ready-to-eat products such as chicken franks or lunch meat that can be eaten without further cooking.

Most foodborne illness outbreaks are a result of contamination from food handlers. Sanitary food handling and proper cooking and refrigeration should prevent foodborne illnesses.

Bacteria must be consumed on food to cause illness. They cannot enter the body through a skin cut. However, raw poultry must be handled carefully to prevent cross-contamination. This can occur if raw poultry or its juices contact cooked food or foods that will be eaten raw such as salad. An example of this is chopping tomatoes on an unwashed cutting board just after cutting raw chicken on it.

Following are some bacteria associated with chicken:
Salmonella Enteritidis may be found in the intestinal tracts of livestock, poultry, dogs, cats and other warm-blooded animals. This strain is only one of about 2,000 kinds of Salmonella bacteria; it is often associated with poultry and shell eggs.
Staphylococcus aureus can be carried on human hands, in nasal passages, or in throats. The bacteria are found in foods made by hand and improperly refrigerated, such as chicken salad.
Campylobacter jejuni is one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in humans. Preventing cross- contamination and using proper cooking methods reduces infection by this bacterium.
Listeria monocytogenes was recognized as causing human foodborne illness in 1981. It is destroyed by cooking, but a cooked product can be contaminated by poor personal hygiene. Observe "keep refrigerated" and "use-by" dates on labels.
Rinsing or Soaking Chicken
It is not necessary to wash raw chicken. Any bacteria which might be present are destroyed by cooking.

Liquid in Package
Many people think the pink liquid in packaged fresh chicken is blood, but it is mostly water which was absorbed by the chicken during the chilling process. Blood is removed from poultry during slaughter and only a small amount remains in the muscle tissue. An improperly bled chicken would have cherry red skin and is condemned at the plant.

How to Handle Chicken Safely
Fresh Chicken: Chicken is kept cold during distribution to retail stores to prevent the growth of bacteria and to increase its shelf life. Chicken should feel cold to the touch when purchased. Select fresh chicken just before checking out at the register. Put packages of chicken in disposable plastic bags (if available) to contain any leakage which could cross-contaminate cooked foods or produce. Make the grocery your last stop before going home.

At home, immediately place chicken in a refrigerator that maintains 40 F, and use within 1 or 2 days, or freeze at 0 F. If kept frozen continuously, it will be safe indefinitely.

Chicken may be frozen in its original packaging or repackaged. If freezing longer than two months, over wrap the porous store plastic packages with airtight heavy-duty foil, plastic wrap or freezer paper, or place the package inside a freezer bag. Use these materials or airtight freezer containers to repackage family packs into smaller amounts or freeze the chicken from opened packages.

Proper wrapping prevents "freezer burn," which appears as grayish-brown leathery spots and is caused by air reaching the surface of food. Cut freezer-burned portions away either before or after cooking the chicken. Heavily freezer-burned products may have to be discarded because they might be too dry or tasteless.
Ready-Prepared Chicken: When purchasing fully cooked rotisserie or fast food chicken, be sure it is hot at time of purchase. Use it within two hours or cut it into several pieces and refrigerate in shallow, covered containers. Eat within 3 to 4 days, either cold or reheated to 165 F (hot and steaming). It is safe to freeze ready-prepared chicken. For best quality, flavor and texture, use within 4 months.
Safe Defrosting
FSIS recommends three ways to defrost chicken: in the refrigerator, in cold water and in the microwave. Never defrost chicken on the counter or in other locations. It's best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. Boneless chicken breasts will usually defrost overnight. Bone-in parts and whole chickens may take 1 to 2 days or longer. Once the raw chicken defrosts, it can be kept in the refrigerator an additional day or two before cooking. During this time, if chicken defrosted in the refrigerator is not used, it can safely be refrozen without cooking first.

Chicken may be defrosted in cold water in its airtight packaging or in a leak proof bag. Submerge the bird or cut-up parts in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes to be sure it stays cold. A whole (3 to 4-pound) broiler fryer or package of parts should defrost in 2 to 3 hours. A 1-pound package of boneless breasts will defrost in an hour or less.

Chicken defrosted in the microwave should be cooked immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving. Holding partially cooked food is not recommended because any bacteria present wouldn't have been destroyed. Foods defrosted in the microwave or by the cold water method should be cooked before refreezing.

Do not cook frozen chicken in the microwave or in a slow cooker. However, chicken can be cooked from the frozen state in the oven or on the stove. The cooking time may be about 50% longer.

Stuffed Chicken
The Hotline does not recommend buying retail-stuffed fresh whole chicken because of the highly perishable nature of a previously stuffed item. Consumers should not pre-stuff whole chicken to cook at a later time. Chicken can be stuffed immediately before cooking. Some USDA-inspected frozen stuffed whole poultry MUST be cooked from the frozen state to ensure a safely cooked product. Follow preparation directions on the label.

Chicken may be marinated in the refrigerator up to 2 days. Boil used marinade before brushing on cooked chicken. Discard any uncooked leftover marinade.

02-09-2009, 01:30 AM
Safe Cooking
FSIS recommends cooking whole chicken to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 F as measured using a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook poultry to higher temperatures.

Microwave Directions:
Microwave on medium-high (70 percent power): whole chicken, 9 to 10 minutes per pound; bone-in parts and Cornish hens, 8 to 9 minutes per pound; boneless breasts halves, 6 to 8 minutes per pound.
When microwaving parts, arrange in dish or on rack so thick parts are toward the outside of dish and thin or bony parts are in the center.
Place whole chicken in an oven cooking bag or in a covered pot.
For boneless breast halves, place in a dish with 1/4 cup water; cover with plastic wrap.
Allow 10 minutes standing time for bone-in chicken; 5 minutes for boneless breast.
The USDA recommends cooking whole poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 F as measured using a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. When cooking pieces, the breast, drumsticks, thighs, and wings should be cooked until they reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 F. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook poultry to higher temperatures.
Partial Cooking
Never brown or partially cook chicken to refrigerate and finish cooking later because any bacteria present wouldn't have been destroyed. It is safe to partially pre-cook or microwave chicken immediately before transferring it to the hot grill to finish cooking.

Color of Skin
Chicken skin color varies from cream-colored to yellow. Skin color is a result of the type of feed eaten by the chicken, not a measure of nutritional value, flavor, tenderness or fat content. Color preferences vary in different sections of the country, so growers use the type of feed which produces the desired color.

Dark Bones
Darkening around bones occurs primarily in young broiler-fryers. Since their bones have not calcified completely, pigment from the bone marrow can seep through the porous bones. Freezing can also contribute to this seepage. When the chicken is cooked, the pigment turns dark. It's perfectly safe to eat chicken meat that turns dark during cooking.

Pink Meat
The color of cooked chicken is not a sign of its safety. Only by using a food thermometer can one accurately determine that chicken has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 F throughout. The pink color in safely cooked chicken may be due to the hemoglobin in tissues which can form a heat-stable color. Smoking or grilling may also cause this reaction, which occurs more in young birds.

Color of Giblets
Giblet color can vary, especially in the liver, from mahogany to yellow. The type of feed, the chicken's metabolism and its breed can account for the variation in color. If the liver is green, do not eat it. This is due to bile retention. However, the chicken meat should be safe to eat.

Fatty Deposits
Chickens may seem to have more fatty deposits or contain a larger "fat pad" than in the past. This is because broiler fryer chickens have been bred to grow very rapidly to supply the demand for more chicken. Feed that is not converted into muscle tissue (meat) is metabolized into fat. However, the fat is not "marbled" into the meat as is beef or other red meat, and can be easily removed. Geneticists are researching ways to eliminate the excess fat.

Trisodium Phosphate
Food-grade trisodium phosphate (TSP) has been approved by FSIS for use in poultry slaughter as an antimicrobial agent. When immersed in and/or sprayed in a dilute solution on chickens, it can significantly reduce bacteria levels. TSP is "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) by the FDA, and has been safely used for years, particularly in processed cheese.

Irradiation of Poultry
In 1992, the USDA approved a rule to permit irradiation of raw, fresh or frozen packaged poultry to control certain common bacteria on raw poultry that can cause illness when poultry is undercooked or otherwise mishandled. Irradiation at 1.5 to 3.0 kilo Gray, the smallest, most practical "dose," would eliminate more than 99 percent of Salmonellae organisms on the treated poultry.

Packages of irradiated chicken are easily recognizable at the store because they must carry the international radura symbol along with the statement, "treated with irradiation" or "treated by irradiation."

Storage Times
Since product dates aren't a guide for safe use of a product, how long can the consumer store the food and still use it at top quality? Follow these tips:
Purchase the product before the date expires.
Follow handling recommendations on product.
Keep chicken in its package until using.
Freeze chicken in its original packaging, overwrap or re-wrap it according to directions in the above section, "How to Handle Chicken Safely".

Refrigerator Home Storage (at 40 F or below) of Chicken ProductsProductRefrigerator Storage Times
-Fresh Chicken, Giblets or Ground Chicken 1 to 2 days
-Cooked Chicken, Leftover 3 to 4 days
-Chicken Broth or Gravy1 to 2 days
-Cooked Chicken Casseroles, Dishes or Soup 3 to 4 days
-Cooked Chicken Pieces, covered with broth or gravy1 to 2 days
-Cooked Chicken Nuggets, Patties1 to 2 days
-Fried Chicken 3 to 4 days
-Take-Out Convenience Chicken (Rotisserie, Fried, etc.)3 to 4 days
-Restaurant Chicken Leftovers, brought immediately home in a "Doggy Bag"3 to 4 days
-Store-cooked Chicken Dinner including gravy1 to 2 days
-Chicken Salad 3 to 5 daysDeli-sliced Chicken Luncheon Meat 3 to 5 days
-Chicken Luncheon Meat, sealed in package2 weeks (but no longer than 1 week after a "sell-by" date)
-Chicken Luncheon Meat, after opening 3 to 5 days
-Vacuum-packed Dinners, Commercial brand with USDA seal Unopened 2 weeks--Opened 3 to 4 days
-Chicken Hotdogs, unopened 2 weeks (but no longer than 1 week after a "sell-by" date)
-Chicken Hotdogs, after opening 7 days
-Canned Chicken Products 2 to 5 years in pantry

02-09-2009, 01:45 AM
More Safe Food Storage ...

Check the temperature in your refrigerator and freezer. Refrigerators should stay below 41F (5C) and the freezer, 0F (-l8C). This won't kill any bacteria that is already present, but it will keep them from multiplying. You can buy a thermometer for the refrigerator and freezer in the housewares section of most supermarkets.
Take extreme care in handling leftovers-we refrigerate ours immediately after a meal. No leaving them out until they cool-better a few pennies for the refrigerator to bring the temperature back to its setting than for us to spend lots of dollars treating a food-born illness.
When you're shopping for food, be sure to check the sell-by label and always opt for the package or carton with the latest date. Once home, promptly store your perishables in the refrigerator or freezer. If you happen to live some distance from the store, carry one or more coolers and have the grocery clerk pack the perishables separately so that you can quickly put these into the cooler for the trip home.
Wash your hands with hot soapy water before and after handling any raw food. Be wary of the possibility of cross-contamination by using clean, smooth cutting boards made of hard maple, glass, or plastic that are free of cracks and crevices. Wash the boards in hot soapy water or better yet, sanitize them in the automatic dishwasher, or rinse them after washing in a solution of 1 teaspoon (5 ml) chlorine bleach to 1 quart (1 l) water. Since we sometimes cook most of the day when we're developing recipes for one of our cookbooks or this site, we keep a ready supply of this solution in a spray bottle near the kitchen sink.
Always thoroughly wash and dry any knives or other utensils after using them for raw foods, such as poultry, before using them for another food, raw or cooked. Better, use different knives or utensils when possible. We have different cutting boards for raw foods that will be cooked, and food that has already been cooked or is to remain raw, i.e. a board to cut raw chicken or fish and an entirely different board to cut bread or fresh fruits.

Cooking Safety

The USDA suggests cooking meat to an internal temperature of at least 160F (71C). Does that mean that you can never enjoy another rare or medium rare steak or tenderloin roast? We personally practice caveat emptor (buyer beware) in our homes. We know our butcher and his source of meat so we have no problem in sometimes cooking beef for medium-rare (rare, we have given up), and so far we've had no trouble. Ground beef is another matter, as research shows that ground beef absolutely needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 160F (71C) to prevent food-borne illness. That doesn't necessarily mean "no pink" in the center as some ground beef patties or meatballs can reach the proper internal temperature and still have a pink center.

Recommended internal temperatures for other foods are: pork-160F (71C)/medium/no pink
lamb--160F (71C)/medium/some pink
veal--160F (71C)well done
whole poultry and thighs-180F (82C)
poultry breasts-170F (77C)
ground chicken or ground turkey-165F (74C)
fish and seafood-cook at a high temperature, making sure the internal temperature reaches 145F (63C) for at least 15 seconds

Buy only refrigerated eggs and refrigerate promptly when you get them home. Cook fresh eggs until both the yolk and white are firm, not runny, and scramble eggs until there is no visible liquid egg. This means soft-boiled eggs will take 3 1/2 minutes to properly cook, instead of the 3-minute egg of days gone by. Never taste anything, such as a cookie dough, cake batter, etc. that contains raw eggs.

How long can you store leftovers in the fridge? Here's a general guideline: cooked fresh vegetables-3 to 4 days
cooked pasta-3 to 5 days
cooked rice-1 week
deli counter meats-5 days
salad greens-1 to 2 days
cooked and sliced ham-3 to 4 days
cooked beef, pork, poultry, fish, and meat casseroles-3 to 4 days
cooked patties and nuggets, gravy, and broth-1 to 2 days
cooked seafood-2 days
soups and stews-3 to 4 days
stuffing-1 to 2 days

When in doubt, throw it out!

Larry C
03-19-2009, 08:11 PM
I can cook rice for a whole week? and here I am cooking it every morning like a sap. I'm a total rookie with cooking so information like this helps a lot. Thanks Peaceful!

03-19-2009, 10:54 PM
I can cook rice for a whole week? and here I am cooking it every morning like a sap. I'm a total rookie with cooking so information like this helps a lot. Thanks Peaceful!

Hi! It's best when used within 2-3 days after cooking. :)

Larry C
03-20-2009, 06:56 AM
Alright I'll try to prepare it twice a week with my chicken. Thanks again.

03-20-2009, 04:19 PM
Alright I'll try to prepare it twice a week with my chicken. Thanks again.

You're welcome. :)

04-24-2009, 01:49 AM
I can cook rice for a whole week? and here I am cooking it every morning like a sap. I'm a total rookie with cooking so information like this helps a lot. Thanks Peaceful!

buy a rice cooker, stays warm and ready to eat when you need it. i wouldnt eat it any longer then 3 days though but thats my personal preference.

10-21-2011, 03:02 AM
The term fresh on a poultry label refers to any raw poultry product that has never been below 26 F.http://www.cuinsurance.org/male1.jpg

01-01-2012, 06:12 AM
mmm i need this info for storing leftovers

01-01-2012, 08:32 PM
Wow, that's nice. The details are great!!

08-05-2012, 08:10 AM
These are the perfect details step by step. I really like these all.