No one wants to think about getting a foodborne illness when celebrating Valentine’s Day but even well meaning, good dining choices, can end the celebration early. Stop Foodborne Illness , a national nonprofit, public health organization dedicated to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens, wants you to be aware of how preventing foodborne illness this Valentine’s Day is one of the most romantic gestures you can make.
Whether you’re headed to a restaurant or preparing a decadent feast at home, make sure your meal is food safe.
“Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate. We appreciate that it’s also a time that many of us dine out or prepare special meals for an intimate evening. We’re here to remind you how to keep your dining safe,” says Deirdre Schlunegger, CEO of Stop Foodborne Illness.
For those treating their sweetheart to a romantic night out, follow these food safety steps to keep your date safe:
- Assess the scene. CDC recommends looking for certificates that show food-safety practices—like recent health inspection score and manager’s completion of food-safety trainings. Note whether the glasses, silverware, napkins and tablecloths are clean. Food Safety News says it is not hard to get an A in the restaurant business; if there isn’t an A on the door, walk away.
- Say no to raw oysters. Raw oysters are a popular Valentine’s day treat however, they can be contaminated with a variety of foodborne pathogens such as E. coli, norovirus and Vibrio vulnificus. If you’re looking for an aphrodisiac fix, order Oysters Rockefeller instead!
- Ask before ordering. Raw or undercooked eggs can be a hidden hazard in foods, such as Caesar salad, custards, and some sauces, unless they are commercially pasteurized.
- Order it cooked thoroughly. Remember that certain foods, including as meat, poultry, and fish, need to be cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria that may be present.
- Get that doggie bag in the fridge—fast. Leftovers need to be refrigerated quickly (within two hours of being served or one hour if temperatures are above 90°F) to avoid the spread of dangerous bacteria. If you’re not going straight home, leave the leftovers at the restaurant.
Remember these seven tips for takeout, delivery, or preparing your sweetheart’s favorite home-cooked meal.
- Keep hot foods hot! After food is cooked, hold it at an internal temperature of 140°F or hotter. Keeping food warm (between 40°F and 140°F) rather than hot encourages growth of germs that cause foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning. Use a food thermometer to make sure your meal stays out of the danger zone.
- Keep cold food cold! Keep Cold foods at 40°F or colder.
- Cook food thoroughly. A food thermometer is a critical tool to ensure your romantic meal is safe for your sweetheart. If poultry is on the menu (including ground poultry), the thickest part must reach an internal temperature of 165°F or higher. Whole cuts of meat and seafood should have an internal temperature of 145°F. For ground meats other than poultry, a safe internal temperature is 160°F. Learn more about safe cooking temperatures.
- Bake safely. Molten chocolate lava cakes, red velvet cheesecake, truffles and chocolate mousse are some of the most iconic Valentine’s Day treats but amateur and seasoned bakers should be extra careful preparing these sweets since they call for chocolate, cream and eggs. Stop Foodborne Illness recommends avoiding no-bake recipes and always baking desserts to an internal temperature of at least 160°F to kill harmful bacteria.
- Follow the two-hour rule. Throw away all perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs, and casseroles that have been left at room temperature longer than two hours (or one hour if the temperature outside is warmer than 90°F).
- Refrigerate leftovers. Before cuddling up on the couch, get those leftovers in the refrigerator! Letting food sit out longer than two hours is one of the most common food safety mistakes. Stop Foodborne Illness recommends storing leftovers in 2-inch deep, shallow containers within two hours of serving.
Stop Foodborne Illness is a national, nonprofit, public health organization dedicated to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens by promoting sound food safety policy and best practices, building public awareness and assisting those impacted by foodborne illness. For more food safety tips please visit www.stopfoodborneillness.org/awareness/. If you think you have been sickened from food, check this out and contact your local health professional.For questions and personal assistance, please contact Stop Foodborne Illness’ Community Coordinator, Stanley Rutledge, at email@example.com or 773-269-6555 Ext. 7. To donate to Stop, visit here.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)