Tag Archives: food safety

The US Open is Coming!

Calling all golfers! Both the men’s and women’s US Open golf tournaments will be taking place this June in Pinehurst. While the event brings a good deal of excitement and attention to the area, serious prep work is underway to make the event safe for both visitors and residents. And these efforts are not limited to Pinehurst. Indeed, food and lodging establishments in Chatham County must prepare for the rush as well.

Whenever a large scale event like the US Open takes place, precautions must be taken to protect the public’s health. Environmental Health staff is contacting local food and lodging establishments to make sure we all do what we can to avoid unwanted hazards that can lead to a food borne illness outbreak. In the videos below, Melissa McKenzie from our Environmental Health team shares important information about food safety. The public plays an important role in public health. We would like to wish everyone a happy and safe US Open!

For more information, visit http://www.chathamnc.org/index.aspx?page=612.



Chatham County Food Service Managers Make Grade A on Food Safety Test

Chatham County Environmental Health Division would like to congratulate Chatham County’s newest certified food safety managers from the following food service facilities.

Chatham County Schools (19 Representatives)

Twin Rivers

Cambridge Hills

The Laurels

Village Lake InnServe Safe ENVR

Carolina Meadows

H&V Concessions

Meat Shoppe

Morning Glory Café

Donna’s Grill

Celebrity Dairy

The Chatham County Public Health Department partners with the Chatham County Extension Office to provide two serve safe classes each year.  The serve safe classes provide important information to help food service managers maintain a safe place for our community and visitors to eat.

Congratulations again to our newest certified managers.  If you would like to find out more about Serve Safe classes or testing please contact Phyllis Smith at Chatham County Extension at (919) 542-8247.


Chatham County Food Service Managers Make Grade A on Food Safety Test

Chatham County Environmental Health Division would like to congratulate Chatham County’s newest certified food safety managers from the following food service facilities: Click here to see who made the grade!


Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!

Chatham County Public Health Department would like to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, but more importantly we would like for everyone to stay safe especially when it comes to food.

Many Chatham County residents have their favorite Thanksgiving Day traditions.  My family typically eats early so we have time to go to one of the wonderful Chatham County parks to run off some energy after the long andlet’s face it, somewhat stressful day.  The day after Thanksgiving is just as much fun since it allows us time with our out of town friends and family to just rest, shop, and eat lots of leftovers.  However, if we don’t take the proper precautions before cooking we might not be able to enjoy the fun after the meal.  Before preparing the turkey my family always brushes up on all the food safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Turkey Basics: Safely Thaw, Prepare, Stuff, and Cook

When preparing a turkey, be aware of the four main safety issues: thawing, preparing, stuffing, and cooking to adequate temperature.

Safe Thawing:

  • Thawing turkeys must be kept at a safe temperature. The “danger zone” is between 40 and 140°F — the temperature range where foodborne bacteria multiply rapidly. While frozen, a turkey is safe indefinitely, but as soon as it begins to thaw, bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to grow again, if it is in the “danger zone.”
  • There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in a microwave oven. For instructions, see “Safe Methods for Thawing;” instructions are also available in Spanish.

Safe Preparation

  • Bacteria present on raw poultry can contaminate your hands, utensils, and work surfaces as you prepare the turkey. If these areas are not cleaned thoroughly before working with other foods, bacteria from the raw poultry can then be transferred to  other foods. After working with raw poultry, always wash your hands, utensils, and work surfaces before they touch other foods.

Safe Stuffing

  • For optimal safety and uniform doneness, cook the stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole dish. However, if you place stuffing inside the turkey, do so just before cooking, and use a food thermometer. Make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Bacteria can survive in stuffing that has not reached 165°F, possibly resulting in foodborne illness.
  • Follow the FSIS’ steps to safely prepare, cook, remove, and refrigerate stuffing; Spanish language instructions are available.

Safe Cooking

  • Set the oven temperature no lower than 325°F and be sure the turkey is completely thawed. Place turkey breast-side up on a flat wire rack in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep. Check the internal temperature at the center of the stuffing and meaty portion of the breast, thigh, and wing joint using a food thermometer. Cooking times will vary. The food thermometer must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Let the turkey stand 20 minutes before removing all stuffing from the cavity and carving the meat.
  • For more information on safe internal temperatures, visit FoodSafety.gov’s Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures.

Following these cooking guidelines can help you prepare a safe holiday dinner that everyone will enjoy.

These recommendations and more can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/TurkeyTime/


Summer Food Safety Tips

Chopped vegetables Like many other North Carolinians, you may be hosting  or attending  quite a few cookouts this summer, including one or more this weekend!  Getting together with friends and family to share good food and conversation is one of the best parts of summer.  Unfortunately, there are some hidden risks with all of this food and warm weather, and they come in the form of foodborne illnesses. Bacteria, including Salmonella and E.coli, love warm temperatures, and when they start growing in those foods out on the picnic table, people can end up getting sick. In order to keep your friends and family members healthy this summer, make sure you’re following these basic tips for safe food preparation and serving.

Wash your hands frequently! –  Unwashed hands are a major cause of foodborne illness.  Before you handle food, be sure to wash your hands, meaning, scrub them well with warm water and soap for 20-30 seconds.  After preparing eggs, meats, or produce, wash your hands and wash all surfaces used for preparing those items.  And, of course, before you start eating, wash your hands- you never know what those hands might have picked up before mealtime.

Wash fruits and vegetables – Since we eat many fruits and vegetables raw over the summer, it’s important to wash them before preparing or eating them. You don’t need to use any kind of soap, just rub produce gently under running water, or for thicker skinned items like melon, scrub with a clean vegetable brush.  For heads of lettuce and cabbage, discard the outermost leaves and wash the head thoroughly.

Avoid “cross-contamination” – Wash knives, utensils, cutting boards and your hands thoroughly between working with different kinds of foods.  Raw meats and ready to eat foods, like tomatoes or potato salad should not be prepared using the same utensils or cutting surfaces.

Thermometer Macro Cook to safe temperatures – Food safety experts agree that food is safely cooked when it is heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness.

  • Take your food thermometer along. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside, so be sure that meats are cooked thoroughly. Check them with a food thermometer.
  • Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.
  • Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
  • Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
  • Cook meat and poultry completely at the picnic site. Partial cooking of food ahead of time allows bacteria to survive and multiply to the point that subsequent cooking cannot destroy them. (Source)

Keep hot food hot and cold food cold – Hot means 135°F or above and cold means 40°F or below.  Foods should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, and if foods are outside and it’s above 90 °F, they should not be left out for longer than one hour.  So, if you’re transporting dishes to an event, try to keep them cold or hot with insulated bags and/or ice packs. If you can, serve foods so that they can stay at a safe temperature, such as by keeping serving dishes for cold foods like potato salad on ice. Finally, put leftovers away promptly and throw away any foods that have been left out for too long.

For more information about staying safe with your food, see the US Food and Drug Administration’s ‘Food Safety Facts for Consumers’ at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm077286.htm

And be sure to check out the blog later this week for some great healthy recipes that you can prepare (safely!) for your 4th of July celebrations.