“Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate. We appreciate that it’s also a time that many of us dine out or prepare special meals for an intimate evening. We’re here to remind you how to keep your dining safe,” Deirdre Schlunegger, CEO of Stop Foodborne Illness said.
- Assess the scene. CDC recommends looking for certificates that show food-safety practices—like recent health inspection score and manager’s completion of food-safety trainings. Note whether the glasses, silverware, napkins and tablecloths are clean. Food Safety News says it is not hard to get an A in the restaurant business; if there isn’t an A on the door, walk away.
- Say no to raw oysters. Raw oysters are a popular Valentine’s day treat however, they can be contaminated with a variety of foodborne pathogens such as E. coli, norovirus and Vibrio vulnificus. If you’re looking for an aphrodisiac fix, order Oysters Rockefeller instead!
- Get that doggie bag in the fridge—fast. Leftovers need to be refrigerated quickly (within two hours of being served or one hour if temperatures are above 90°F) to avoid the spread of dangerous bacteria. If you’re not going straight home, leave the leftovers at the restaurant.
- Wash the produce. Making a fancy multi-course meal? Don’t cut corners and serve unwashed produce, even prewashed produce. Stop Foodborne Illness recommends thoroughly washing all fresh veggies and fruits to minimize potential bacterial contamination.
- Be cautious of food temperatures. Food left in the danger zone—above 40 degrees and below 140 degrees–facilitates bacterial growth. To avoid the spread of foodborne illness, keep hot foods hot (internal temperature of 140°F or above) and cold foods cold (40°F or below).
- Cook food thoroughly. A food thermometer is a critical tool to ensure your romantic meal is safe for your sweetheart. If poultry is on the menu (including ground poultry), the thickest part must reach an internal temperature of 165°F or higher. Whole cuts of meat and seafood should have an internal temperature of 145°F. For ground meats other than poultry, a safe internal temperature is 160°F. Learn more about safe cooking temperatures.
- Bake safely. Molten chocolate lava cakes, red velvet cheesecake, truffles and chocolate mousse are some of the most iconic Valentine’s Day treats but amateur and seasoned bakers should be extra careful preparing these sweets since they call for chocolate, cream and eggs. Stop Foodborne Illness recommends avoiding no-bake recipes and always baking desserts to an internal temperature of at least 160°F to kill harmful bacteria.
- Refrigerate leftovers. Before cuddling up on the couch, get those leftovers in the refrigerator! Letting food sit out longer than two hours is one of the most common food safety mistakes. Stop Foodborne Illness recommends storing leftovers in 2-inch deep, shallow containers within two hours of serving.