Preparing food from the raw state to a fully cooked state, especially when using meats, is something of a delicate process, and it important to prevent foodborne illness. There are many factors involved in making sure the food is stored properly, handled properly and cooked enough to kill any bacteria that may be in it. This is especially true with meats such as chicken, beef and pork. Certain foods are more prone to being a carrier of foodborne illnesses; however, with proper care, it can all be avoided.
In general, how food is stored and prepared takes care of 95% of any bacteria in the food. As long as cold items are kept below 40 degrees and cooked to 165 degrees, just about any and all bacteria is killed in the process. When handling raw meats, be aware of cross contamination and never use the same area for raw food and cooked food. Always clean any area thoroughly after handling raw meats and that includes washing the hands thoroughly.
Here are 5 foods which are most often associated with foodborne illness:
Everyone knows that chicken has to be cooked thoroughly to prevent the spread of any foodborne illness. Chicken, in it's raw state, is no fit for consumption and must be cooked to at least 165-170 degrees, internally, to make sure all bacteria and microbes are killed. Likewise, if chicken is not store below 40 degrees until it is ready to cook, the bacteria in it will grow.
2. Red Meat - Ground
Like chicken, ground meat is a potential powder-keg of bacteria and microbes unless properly stored and cooked. A well done burger is one where the internal temperature is 165 degree or higher. This ensures any harmful bacteria is destroyed. If the ground is made on site from steaks, preparing to a lower temperature is safer as the product was ground locally.
3. Red Meat - Steaks
The difference between ground beef and steak is that during the grinding process, air and other bacteria can mix with beef in the grinding process. Steak, on the other hand, is a single cut product and because of this is more controlled. Steaks can be safely cooked to any temperature as long as they are handled correctly prior to being cooked.
Raw fish, unless specifically set up for sushi, is a well known cross contaminate. In general, fish purchased from supermarkets should always be cooked thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Some fish, such as salmon, depending on the cut, can be cooked to a lower temperature when purchased in specific cuts.
Again, as a meat, proper handling needs to be observed and most pork products should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperate of 165 degrees. Thicker cut pork chops can be cooked to a lower temperature depending on the supplier and the thickness of the cut. Always check with your butcher when purchasing pork you may want to cook to medium.
Any food can carry a foodborn illness if it is not stored, prepared and cooked properly. Never allow cooked foods to come into contact with raw foods, as the cooked food could then become contaminated.