CLEVELAND, Ohio — How do you keep your food free of the coronavirus? Cooking it to 165 degrees is a universal temperature which will protect you from germs, said Suzanne Hrusch, a program manager for Cuyahoga County’s food protection unit.
But that will also dry most food out, and isn’t necessary for every meal. So Hrusch recommends following established guidelines on how to cook your food to proper temperature. It depends what’s in the meal. The temperature for chicken is much higher than that for fresh pork, for example.
When it comes to food, safety tips are the same as always. If you’re worried about catching COVID-19 from uncooked meat or take-out from your favorite restaurant, stick to procedures recommended by experts to prevent food-borne illnesses.
Don’t worry too much, though. Based on what we know about the coronavirus, the illness is not primarily spread through food.
“Since coronavirus is a respiratory virus we believe that it is contracted only by inhalation or similar mechanism (such as) sticking your finger in your nose, when your finger has a virus on it,” Ben Chapman, a North Carolina State University professor and food safety specialist, told Food Safety News.
“If it was in food it would be destroyed by proper cooking.”
The Food and Drug Administration asserts on its website that there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with coronavirus.
As more evidence comes out that the virus could live on surfaces — up to 24 hours on cardboard, for example, according to one recent study — it might be better to take some precautions.
“Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects,” the FDA website reads. “For that reason, it is critical to follow the four key steps of food safety — clean, separate, cook, and chill.”
Gov. Mike DeWine closed bars and restaurants last week to protect from the coronavirus. As a result, many are pivoting to take-out to keep business alive and customers fed. County food inspectors are still checking on restaurants to ensure that they’re following guidelines when it comes to food preparation and safety.
Hrusch said rules for reheating food depend on what situation you’re in. If reheating bulk foods, like chili, over the course of the day make sure it heats to 165 degrees for 15 seconds within at least two hours of the food being consumed.
But the individual burrito you ordered? Feel free to eat it as delivered, Hrusch said, but if you’re concerned, microwave to 135 degrees.
Some tips for preparing food to protect from the spread of viruses and bacteria are:
— Wash your produce.
— Use a heat thermometer to assess food temperature. Place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food, making sure not to touch bone, fat, or gristle.
Here’s a video on how to best assess food temperature:
— Follow the proper food temperature minimum guidelines. Here’s a table from the USDA to follow.
— If you cook food, make sure to either store it appropriately if you’re not serving it right away. Keep it above 140 degrees to prevent temperatures from reaching the “danger zone” where bacteria can grow.
— Leftovers should be reheated to 165 degrees.
— Frequently clean your kitchen and home surfaces and wash your hands before handling, particularly when bringing new items into the home or if you touched outside surfaces, like doorknobs or shopping carts.
See more tips from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and the USDA.
Source: Thanks https://www.cleveland.com/news/2020/03/worried-about-coronavirus-on-your-food-165-degrees-is-universal-safe-cooking-temperature-but-not-often-necessary.html