Should I wash a chicken before cooking?
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland does not recommend washing chicken (or any other poultry) in running water. This is because, when raw poultry is washed in this manner, the harmful bacteria present on the raw poultry may be sprayed around the washing area contaminating cloths, work surfaces and potentially other foodstuffs.
The best way to prepare poultry for cooking is to use a wet kitchen towel to wipe the chicken and dispose of the kitchen towel immediately. Be sure to wash your hands with antibacterial soap afterwards.
What about the safety of hot and cold foods in a sandwich?
When consumers purchase or prepare a sandwich with a “hot filling” it is usually for immediate consumption or shortly after. Therefore, the addition of hot and cold fillings to the same sandwich is not a food safety concern. If the consumption of the sandwich is to be delayed, the sandwich should be stored appropriately and safely, i.e. chilled in the fridge at 0-5° C.
What temperature should I be cooking my food to?
To ensure that food is cooked thoroughly, the temperature at the core of the food (this is the thickest part of the food) must be 75° C or higher, which will kill any bacteria present. Invest in a good food thermometer for this purpose.
What do I consider when cooking steaks and burgers?
Steak/beef joints can be cooked to preference and so some of the juices may still be present when the meat is cooked “rare”. This is because bacteria are only present on the surface of the meat and will be destroyed once the outside of the meat is seared.
However, minced beef such as burgers, or rolled joints, must be cooked to a core temperature of 75° C. This is because bacteria which are usually present on the external surfaces of meat joints can be redistributed throughout the inside of the burger on mincing/rolling.
Can I stuff and cook a chicken or turkey or must I cook the stuffing separately?
You can stuff and cook poultry but need to be careful that you extend the cooking time to accommodate the increased weight of the bird and the reduced surface area for cooking when the cavity of the bird is full. FSAI recommends that you should ensure that the meat and the centre of the stuffing have reached a temperature of 75º C or above.
Temperature can be monitored with a meat thermometer. Unfortunately, there is no appropriate visual check that can be done to ensure the centre of the stuffing is thoroughly cooked. If a meat thermometer is not used then cooking times should be calculated based on suitable safe cooking recommendations such as those provided by Safefood.
Can I reheat leftover food?
Yes. Leftovers should be used within 2-3 days and stored in the fridge at between 0-5° C during this time. They can be reheated as long as they are heated to 70° C or higher. Food should be very hot and steaming before it is served. It is important when reheating stews and casseroles that the liquid boils for around 3-5 minutes to ensure the pieces of meat are completely heated through. Leftovers should only be reheated once.
Can I use my microwave to reheat foods?
Yes, but it is important to consult your manufacturer’s handbook, as microwaves differ in their power levels and operating conditions.
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