Play it Safe with Ready-to-Cook Foods

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The convenience of ready-to-cook foods can save time and effort during the hot summer months but eating these types of foods without preparing them as directed on the package can make you sick. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently developed a quiz to help you test your safety knowledge about ready-to-cook foods.

The U.S. has one of the safest food supplies in the world, but foods occasionally do become contaminated somewhere along the food-supply chain­, and that includes ready-to-cook foods. Ready-to-cook foods are foods whose packages or labels tell you to cook or bake them, such as frozen pizza, raw refrigerated hashbrown potatoes, and frozen, breaded raw shrimp. A ready-to-cook food that has become contaminated with bacteria or other organisms that could make you sick may look and smell normal.

So if you’re eating ready-to-cook foods this summer, make sure you play it safe. Think along the lines of “just in case,” and follow the important safety tips outlined in FDA’s Ready-to-Cook Foods quiz, including:

  • Wash your hands before and after handling any food.
  • Follow the cooking instructions on the package to make sure that the food reaches hot enough temperatures all the way through, including the center.
  • Microwave according to package instructions. Be sure to use the power level and amount of time specified. Cover the dish and stir the food if the instructions tell you to. Always allow standing time, which completes the cooking, before checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer.

Prevent “Cross-Contamination” When Serving

Never reuse a plate or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood for serving — unless they’ve been washed first in hot, soapy water. Otherwise, you can spread bacteria from the raw juices to your cooked or ready-to-eat food. This is particularly important to remember when serving cooked foods from the grill.

For more food safety tips this summer, review FDA’s Tips for Handling Food Safely While Eating Outdoors which outlines how you can protect yourself, your family, and friends during picnic and barbecue season.

Test your safety knowledge with FDA’s Ready-to-Cook Foods Quiz and get more food safety tips at FDA’s Food Facts for Consumers webpage!

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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