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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
September 24, 2009

Heather Howard
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160


 
September is National Food Safety Education Month; "Take Time to Take Food Temperatures"


 

 

September is National Food Safety Education Month, and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Food and Drug Safety Program is encouraging consumers to “Take Time to Take Food Temperatures” in order to prevent food-related illness, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard announced today.

 

This month’s theme was chosen to stress the importance of knowing, taking and maintaining the proper temperature of potentially hazardous foods, such as burgers, chicken, casseroles and sauces.  Taking the time to check food temperatures with a food thermometer can help you, your family and guests avoid illness.  Even though that burger “looks” done because it turned brown, it may still harbor dangerous bacteria that can make your family sick.  Some tips for safe cooking:

 

·         Insert a food thermometer at an angle into the thickest part of the burger to check that it has reached a safe internal temperature of 155°F.

·         Chicken pieces and stuffed meats should be cooked to 165°F

·         Steaks, pork, and fish should reach 145°F.

·         Whole beef or pork roasts should reach an internal temperature of 165°F.  Check by placing the food thermometer into the center of the roast.

 

It is also important to keep foods at their proper temperature, and not leave food out at room temperature for more than four hours.  Cold foods should be kept in your refrigerator at 41°F or below until you are ready to serve them.   Hot foods should be kept hot, using tabletop equipment such as chafing dishes and sternos if possible

 

Put leftovers in the refrigerator immediately.  Do not leave them out on the counter. 

 

To ensure safe storage, reduce crowding of food containers in the refrigerator so air can circulate and properly cool food to safe temperatures.  Also, store sauces, gravies, casseroles, soups, and other leftovers in containers less than four inches deep to allow for proper cooling to safe temperatures.

 

It’s also a good idea to keep a refrigerator thermometer in the fridge to ensure that the interior temperature is at or below 41°F.  That way, you will know quickly if the interior temperature rises significantly. 

 

The Food and Drug Safety Program is encouraging local health departments to take an active role in National Food Safety Month.  Several health departments have taken steps to bring food safety education to their communities. 

 

 

  • Vineland Health Department created the “Food Handlers Manual: A Guide to Safe and Healthy Food Handling for Food Establishments,” available at http://www.vldhealth.org/EnvironmentalService.htm#foodsafety.  The manual focuses on food safety risk factors, labeling, responsibilities of the owner and person-in-charge, and food allergens. It is designed for the manager, owner, or person in charge of a food establishment, but can be used by anyone.

 

  • Edison Health Department is reaching out to its culturally diverse communities by holding food safety education and training on site at retail food establishments.  All participants are given “hands on” training in hand washing, bare hand contact prevention and proper thermometer use.  These efforts promote the view of inspectors as food safety partners and has led to improved cooperation and understanding.

 

  • South Orange Health Department has recently updated its food handler courses and in June, had a 100 percent pass rate for all who participated and took the test. 

 

For more information on food safety, please visit the Food and Drug Safety Program’s newly updated website: http://nj.gov/health/foodanddrugsafety/index.shtml.

 

 The new website includes many links to food safety resources and a Consumer Information Page dedicated to topics such as food allergies, food safety for pregnant women, fish consumption advisories, and reading pet food labels.  If you have any questions, you may also call the program at (609) 588-3123.

 

The national Restaurant Association is sponsoring Food Safety Education Month.  For more information, visit the organizaton’s web site at: http://www.restaurant.org/

 

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