Soul Food Safety: Tips To Keeping Your Soul Food Safe

Food safety is always a major concern, especially when it comes to soul food. In an attempt to save money, time or convenience many southern cooks sometimes try cutting corners when it comes to food safety.

Soul food continues to grow in popularity, but unfortunately people sometimes overlook safe handling and cooking habits of this delicious southern cuisine.

A misconception is if it's the way I cooked it never made anyone sick, it's O.K to do it. What many people don't know about getting food poisoning is it doesn't always make you violently sick. But any many cases it could cause anything from slight dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, or sluggish feeling. Many people overlook these secondary conditions of getting slight or minor food poisoning, and it generally goes unnoticed.

Many times eating bacteria-laden foods aren't always fatal to because we eat them in "small" quantities. Also because the people who eat the food, mostly adults (ages 16 to 75), who has a stronger resistance.

However, the elderly, small children, and other people with low resistance who are sick, or recovering are the biggest candidates for food poisoning.

Generally speaking, healthy adults with strong resistance may eat the same food as a person will a weaker resistance. The difference? The person with the stronger resistance can fight off the bacteria that could make the person with a weaker resistance sick.

Note: Healthy eating habits, exercise and proper rest helps build your resistance.

Here’s 20 soul food safety tips to follow for a more positive eating experience.

1. Canned goods can stay safe for eating up to 12 months unopened. Check the date on the top or bottom of container

2. Choose frozen foods, like dinners or vegetables, from the back of the freezer case; the items in the back usually remain the coldest and most frozen

3. Choose packaged chicken that looks pink, not gray or yellow.

4. Check the "sell-by" date and if it has passed, don't buy it.

5. To guard against cross-contamination " which can happen when raw meat or poultry juices drip on other food " put packages of raw meat and poultry into plastic bags.

6. Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours. Refrigerate within one-hour when the temperature is above 90 °F.

7. Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

8. When smoking meat, keep the temperature in the smoker at 250 to 300 °F for safety.

10. Some studies suggest there may be a cancer risk from eating charred meat from barbecuing or grilling. To prevent this risk ...

Remove visible fat that can cause a flare-up when grilling or barbecuing.

Precook meat in the microwave, to release some of the juices that can drop on coals before placing it on the grill.

Cook meat in the center of the grill, slowly moving the coals to the side to prevent fat and juices from dripping on them and causing a flare-up.

Carefully slice charred portions off the meat if any.

11. When carrying food to another location, keep it cold to stop bacterial growth. Use an insulated cooler with enough ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40 °F or below.

12. Buy a food thermometer and use it. Using an accurate food thermometer takes the guesswork out of cooking and food safety.

13. Safe Cooking Internal Temperature to Serve Hot Food

Whole poultry: 165 °F
Poultry breasts: 165 °F Ground poultry:
165 °F Hamburgers, beef:
160 °F Beef, veal, and lamb (steaks, roasts and chops):
Medium rare 145 °F
Medium 160 °F
Well Done 165 F
Pork: 160 °F
Casseroles, Stews, Gumbo 160 F
Reheated Leftovers 160 F
Seafood 140 F
Vegetables 140º F

14. Remember done is not the same as safe. Doneness mearely describes appearance and taste. Safety describes the correct internal temperature to destroy internal bacteria and other pathogens that could make you sick.

15. Here's the recommended temperatures for storing refrigerated items. Remember if you don't store them properly they won't last as long.

Meat and Poultry – 33-36ºF
Fish – 32-33ºF
Clams, Oysters, Scallops, Crawfish, Shrimp, Lobster – 32-33ºF
Crawfish, Shrimp, Lobster 45F
Eggs – 38-40ºF
Dairy (butter, cheese, milk) – 38-40ºF
Fruit and Vegetables – 38-40ºF

16. Refrigerate potentially
perishable foods 38 - 41º F

17. Store frozen foods 0º F or below

18. Store dry goods at 50º F - 70º F

19. If using a microwave oven to thaw food, cook food immediately after thawing.

20. Food Holding temperatures while serving:
Hot food 140 F or above. Cold food 41 F or below.

Taking the small amount of time to follow these soul food safety tips can help to not only keep your family safe, it will help to increase the enjoyment your southern style meal. Safe cooking!

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About The Author, Roy Primm
Roy Primm has written dozens of soul food articles. For more soul food cooking tips and videos go to Soul Food Safety