Wellness 2015-10-09 Make Meat Safety a Household Priority Main Article Content Breadcrumb navigation All/Wellness/Make Meat Safety a Household Priority How to Safely Handle and Cook Meat From gatherings that include ham, turkey or roast beef, to informal meals of burgers or steak at a barbecue, meat safety isn’t usually part of the dinner conversation. However, safe meat handling is paramount to safe meat eating, and is something everyone should practice whether it’s in the kitchen or on the grill. Each year, thousands of people fall sick, some very seriously, from the improper handling, cooking and storage of meat and poultry. These tips can help ensure you and your guests have a memorable meal – for all the right reasons. Buying Always place meat or poultry in a plastic bag to prevent leakage onto other food items, especially raw ones. Don’t buy meat or poultry past the sell-by-date. If you’ve bought meat or poultry within a day or two of its sell-date, cook or freeze it right away. Don’t buy meat or poultry that feels warm to the touch (it should feel cold). This is a sign of improper refrigeration. Meat or poultry should be tightly wrapped and have no tears, punctures or excessive liquid, which can indicate improper storage and temperature. Storing at Home Store at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below to protect against bacterial growth. If you’ll be in your car for a while and have purchased meat or poultry, store it in a portable cooler until you can get it home. If you plan to freeze meat or poultry, rewrap it with freezer paper or place in a freezer bag for safe storage. Refrigerate or freeze as soon as possible. Put in a storage safe container so the juices don’t leak and contaminate other food. Preparing Always wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after handling meat. After cutting raw meat or poultry, use hot, soapy water to wash your cutting area, any utensils and your countertops. Marinate meat or poultry in a covered dish or storage bag in your refrigerator. Don’t defrost at room temperature. Defrost meat and poultry in your refrigerator. If you thaw in your microwave, do so in its original container and immediately cook it afterward, as some parts may be completely thawed and others not. Cooking Always cook meat and poultry to suggested internal temperatures. See package labeling for specific times. Use a meat thermometer to ensure your meat and poultry have been cooked to their proper temperature. When grilling, use a separate plate for raw meat and a new one for your grilled meat. You can safely cook frozen meat or poultry in the oven, on the stovetop or on the grill. However, your cooking time may take 50% longer. Don’t cook frozen meats in a slow cooker; Harmful bacteria can contaminate the meat before it reaches a safe temperature. Do not serve the marinade that was used for your raw meat or poultry. Eating Leftovers Don’t eat any meat or poultry that has sat out for more than two hours – throw it away. Use cooked (and properly stored) leftovers within four days. Use the “if in doubt, throw it out” rule if you’re not sure whether leftovers are still good to eat. Store leftovers in sealed containers and refrigerate right away. Quickly chilling them helps prevent bacteria from growing. Whether you’re at the store or in your kitchen, practicing meat and poultry safety is essential for preventing illness. Most harmful bacteria can’t be seen, smelled or tasted. In addition, by following the recommendations for proper cooking of your meat and poultry, you can help to ensure the safety of your meal to keep your guests coming back for leftovers. Interested in hearing more from Northwestern Medicine? Sign up for the Healthy Tips E‑Newsletter for everything from health and wellness ideas to patient breakthroughs to academic and medical advancements. Share This Page Related Topics Health and Safety Favorite Foods Healthy Diet Northwestern Medicine - On a relentless pursuit of better medicine. Related Content Health Library Breaking the Cycle of Chronic Pain As an alternative to opioids, the Marianjoy Integrative Pain Treatment Center at Oakbrook Terrace helps patients manage pain without relying on prescription medications. Fitness Three Common Sports Overuse Injuries (Infographic) Overuse injuries are damage to bones, muscles, ligaments or tendons as a result of repetitive stress. Here are the top three sports injuries and how to spot them. Health Library Quick Dose: What Is Fentanyl? Fentanyl, an opioid 100 times more powerful than morphine, has caused the number of drug overdoses in the United States to skyrocket. Learn more about this potent drug and its role in the opioid epidemic. Fitness Three Common Sports Overuse Injuries Overuse injuries are damage to bones, muscles, ligaments or tendons as a result of repetitive stress. Here are the top three sports injuries and how to spot them. Health Library Quick Dose: How Long Until I Recover From a Concussion? Concussions are not reserved for athletes. Learn the symptoms of a concussion and what to expect on the road to recovery. Health Library All About Concussions A concussion can be confusing to navigate. Here’s your go-to guide for deciphering symptoms, seeking treatment and returning to normal life. Healthy Tips Spring Clean Your Way to Good Health Clean your way to good health! Tackle your spring cleaning with our printable checklist. Health Library How Alcohol Impacts the Brain Why does alcohol cause memory loss or impaired judgment? Northwestern Medicine’s addiction medicine specialist Jeffrey T. Johnson, DO explains. Healthy Tips Four quick tips to avoid the flu To reduce your chance of getting sick this flu season, do what nurses do. Health Library Quick Dose: Is Your Cell Phone Making You Sick? Find out just how dirty your phone is from a Northwestern Medicine primary care physician. Healthy Tips Taking Stock of Your Year-End Health Needs From medical spending to physical health. Wellness The Truth About Viruses and Bacteria The difference between these two common cold-starters and how to spot them. Daily Health 6 Things you Must Pack for a Hospital Stay Packing the right hospital bag can help you feel more comfortable during your stay away from home. Emotional Health 5 Things You Never Knew About Fear The truth behind your body’s physical and emotional response to fear, horror and clowns. Daily Health 5 Things to Consider When Choosing Health Benefits Health insurance doesn’t have to be confusing. Consider these 5 things next time you’re choosing benefits. Daily Health Germs Hidden in Plain Sight How to protect yourself from a world of bacteria. Medical Advances Wearables Help Scientists Track Patient Data Wearable technology helps researchers gather information and devise innovative ways to treat and prevent disease. Emotional Health 4 Ways to Alleviate Anxiety Everyone worries once in a while. It’s a common, warranted, sometimes even healthy thing to do. But how much worrying is too much worrying? Healthy Tips Healthy Tips for Regular Travelers From finding a good place to eat to avoiding germs in an airport or hotel, traveling for work often comes with a physical and emotional toll. Medical Advances Pinpointing Cost-Effective Diagnostics for a Common Urological Condition A new approach to detecting genitourinary cancer seeks to maximize diagnosis and minimize cost and harm to patients. Daily Health Long Weekend Health Reads Relax with a good book. Our physicians recommend it. Medical Advances RNA Test Helps Identify Bacterial Infections in Infants A new study could change the way physicians test for bacterial infections on infants. Daily Health Better Hygiene for Healthy Eyes Whether you wear contact lenses, glasses or have 20/20 vision, everyone can benefit from better hygiene for healthy eyes. Daily Health 5 Secrets of Childbirth From speedy deliveries to bodily functions, here are 5 things that can (and probably will) happen in the delivery room. Daily Health 5 Things to Know About Hepatitis C Hepatitis C is contagious and can be asymptomatic. Here’s what you need to know about the disease. Daily Health A Guide to Asking the Right Medical Questions Asking your physician these four questions can put you on the path to better health. Health Library The Healing Power of Gardens The healing gardens at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital help patients recovering from physical injuries, stroke and neurological conditions. Emotional Health Cyberbullying: What Parents Need to Know Cyberbullying is one of the most prominent and painful forms of harassment. Here’s what to do if your child is a victim. Health Library Sexually Transmitted Infections: What You Need to Know Whether you’re single, married or returning to the midlife dating game, know how to protect yourself from STIs. Health Library From the Hospital to the Home A handful of physicians are reviving an old care-delivery model with a modern twist: the physician house call visit. Wellness Encouraging Communication in Children From playing games to implementing strategies, there are many ways to help promote communication in children who are nonverbal. Wellness The Bridge to Trauma Treatment Physicians and scientists are getting a major assist from community faith leaders when it comes to treating trauma in Chicago. Wellness 5 Benefits of Healthy Relationships Positive relationships are good for your heart, and your health. Daily Health When Will There Be Male Birth Control? A safe and effective male contraceptive continues to evade scientists, but they’re hard at work on several new options in the research pipeline. Wellness A Guide to Safe Toys [Infographic] While most toy-related injuries are minor cuts, scrapes and bruises, certain toys represent real risks for children. Learn what to look for. Daily Health 4 Breathing Techniques for Better Health Breathing techniques to improve your physical health and emotional state of mind. Health Library 5 Surprising Facts About Diabetes Despite its prevalence, there are probably a few things you don’t know about diabetes – and they may even surprise you. Health Library What Does Return to Play Really Mean? Concussions affect life on and off the field. But recovery is a gradual process; understanding the return protocol is essential to concussion care. Medical Advances Where Efficiency, Aesthetics and Experience Meet The idea that you can transform healthcare through welcoming environments is at the heart of Northwestern Medicine hospital design. Wellness Long Weekend Roundup To ensure you have the best holiday possible, we’ve gathered some of our best tips for you. Daily Health 8 Smart Uses for your Smartphone Many smartphones have numerous features and smart apps that make them much more than just phones. Here are eight. Daily Health 5 Health Hazards Found in the Classroom [Infographic] From germs on the keyboard to calories in the lunch, find out what health risks may be hiding in your child’s classroom. Health Library Understanding the Opioid Epidemic Prescription opioid misuse has become an epidemic in the United States, due in large part to its role in chronic pain relief. Health Library What You Need to Know About Zika Only time will tell the global reach of the Zika virus, but with so much information out there, it’s important to get your facts straight. Daily Health Little Buggers [Infographic] Don’t let these 5 insects bug you this summer. Daily Health (De) Hydration: What You Need to Know Water works hard for our bodies. So what happens when the well runs dry? Daily Health Digital Days Create Visual Haze While your eyes are most affected by computer vision syndrome, digital eyestrain can impact your whole health. Wellness College Prep Health Checklist From pre-packing appointments to sanitizer for the dorm room, discover how to send your child off to college with the tools to stay healthy. Medical Advances What Determines Chronic Pain? A new study from Northwestern Medicine scientists has found that the brain, and not an initial injury, may determine the risk of developing chronic pain. Daily Health Sleep, Eat, Play. Repeat. [Infographic] Summer is a time to achieve a healthy balance between activity and relaxation. Learn more. Daily Health Too Hot to Handle Heat-related illness takes five primary forms: sunburn, heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wellness 6 Things You Might Forget at a Fest Festivals promise a full day of fun, but in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to forget all the health and wellness tips with which you so recently prepped. Wellness Healthy Tips for Your Camping Trip Make sure your stay with Mother Nature is memorable in a good way with these practical health and safety pointers. Daily Health Safe on the Sunny Side [Infographic] Whether it’s overcast or clear skies, the sun’s rays can damage your skin. Nutrition Food Allergies Fact Sheet [Infographic] Food allergies affect approximately one in every 13 children and while some outgrow these reactions, not all do. Health Library React F.A.S.T. [Infographic] There are nearly 7 million stroke survivors in the United States. When you know the warning signs and symptoms, you can help those numbers rise. Daily Health Do Smartphones Sabotage Sleep? Smartphones use blue light displays that can delay your body’s cues to go to sleep and throw off your natural sleep-wake cycles. Wellness A Road Map to Health on the Road It’s easy to forgo healthy habits on road trips and give in to the fast food options, but it’s just as easy to stay on the healthy track. Learn how. Nutrition In Season: Grow Your Own Produce Growing your own fruit and vegetables not only guarantees your food will be fresh and local, it also has surprising health benefits. Health Library An Eye on Lyme Disease Lyme disease is frequently misdiagnosed and delay in diagnosis can result in more serious side effects. Learn how to prevent tick bites. Wellness One Less Round Drinking alcohol is overwhelmingly prevalent in everyday life and the health effects – and the benefits of cutting back – are real. Fitness If the Shoe Fits You probably own a pair of running shoes. Or, a pair of sneakers you run in. But how long have you had them? And how well, really, do they fit? Health Library Understanding Eating Disorders Disordered eating is a complex and complicated condition, and treatment and support is no less nuanced. Daily Health Cold vs. Flu [Infographic] The common cold and the flu can seem similar, as both are caused by a virus, affect the respiratory system and share a number of symptoms. Daily Health Your Heart in Winter Heart attacks are more common in the winter. Learn tips from Northwestern Medicine cardiologists to manage heart health in the cold. Wellness Health in Flight Cabin conditions that cause altitude sickness and dehydration can make plane travel unpleasant, but a few preventive tips can improve your trip. Wellness 5 Tips for New Year's Eve Safety Champagne, cabs, finding friends — there’s a lot to keep track of on New Year’s Eve, but tips for staying safe can help the night go off without a hitch. Health Library Debunked by a Nurse: E-Cigarettes E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly prominent in society, and so is the perception that vaping is a safe response to nicotine addiction. Health Library Myths About the Flu Shot The flu is a severe respiratory illness. The myths surrounding the flu shot are more harmful than the vaccination itself. Daily Health Fight the Flu Besides getting vaccinated, find out more ways to stay healthy when those around you are getting the flu. Health Library The Concussion Conversation Studies are changing what we know about the long-term effects of concussions in sports, but the basics stay the same. Here’s what you need to know. Daily Health Summer Sugar High For people with diabetes, health risks increase in the summer heat. Learn what your body can handle and monitor yourself for safe summer fun. Medical Advances How Neighborhood May Affect Diabetes Research from Northwestern Medicine shows how neighborhood resources and access to healthy food may affect diabetes rates. Daily Health Beat the Bugs When you’re outside, your skin can be at risk for more than sunburn. Learn how to keep your skin safe with protection tips and warnings signs. Nutrition Considering a Cleanse? From weight loss to energy, people do cleanses for many reasons. Find guidelines for detoxing and whether it’s the right route for your health. Wellness How's Your Health? Taking your health temperature is a great way to check in on your wellness and lifestyle goals. Ask yourself these questions to gauge your health. Daily Health Prep for a Fest At a music festival, county fair or taste of your city, stay safe when you’re out all day in the sun. Get ready with these seven tips to prep for fests. Nutrition In the Spirits of Summer Beers at a barbeque. Cocktails on the patio. Summer is well-suited for enjoying alcohol along with the lovely weather. Learn how to do so safely. Nutrition Peanut Allergy Primer Peanut allergies affect millions of Americans. With new studies offering advice, rediscover the basics about one of the most common allergies. Fitness Get Ready to Ride From a healthier body to a heftier wallet, a lot of good can come from biking. Discover what biking can do for you – and how to get started. Wellness Why Vaccinate? A shot now could save lives later. Find out why vaccinating your child is so important. Medical Advances Friends With Fitness Social support is a powerful motivator in weight loss and a new study suggests it’s just as effective in online weight management communities. Fitness How to Stay Active and Injury-Free Whether you’re training, conditioning or getting in shape, an injury can throw off your workout routine. Stay safe with this prevention prep list. Wellness Wellness While You’re Away Don’t let anything put a damper on your days off. Stay well while you’re away with these six healthy tips. Daily Health Springtime Sneezes Spring brings budding trees and buzzing bees, but all that green also increases seasonal allergies. Find out how to manage spring sneezing. Daily Health Sun Day Safety 101 How do you balance beneficial time in the sun with skin cancer prevention? Sunscreen, shade and long sleeves. Discover more healthy tips. Health Library Heart Attack Warning Signs [Infographic] The symptoms for heart attacks differ in men and women. Use this infographic to learn the warning signs for each. Wellness Safe on Schedule: Vaccines for Children A vaccination schedule can keep your child's health on track. Learn what shots to receive and when with this easy infographic Fitness Safe Workouts for Fragile Bones Exercise is an important part of treating osteoporosis. With a safe routine, you can strengthen your bones and reduce risk of injury. Daily Health Snug on Snow Day [Infographic] Before you send your child out to play on snow day, make sure they’re safe and snug with this infographic and list of tips for proper winter wear. Fitness Family Fun and Fitness: Ice-Skating Ice skating is a popular workout in winter, and the ideal activity for family fun and fitness. Discover 5 reasons to hit the rink. Daily Health Is the Flu Shot for You? Short answer: yes. Find out if you should get the flu shot this season. Health Library Careful of Misdiagnosed Ear Infections Ear infections are one of the most common reasons to see a pediatrician, but nearly one fifth of ear aches are not infections. Find out the facts.