National Taco Day is October 4th and it’s a fiesta for taco lovers with many national taco chains marking the day with free tacos and specials.
According to National Taco Day’s official website, Americans ate more than 4.5 billion tacos last year. That’s a lot of tacos.
For National Taco Day, consider the countless variations you can create using traditional meats or with seafood, chicken, beans, cheese, and/or eggs. Accent your taco with an array of garnishes – salsa, cilantro, avocado, tomatoes, onions and lettuce – and you will have a tasty meal!
The Four Food Safety Steps: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill
If you plan on having your own fiesta and making your world famous tacos – it’s a good time to brush up on food safety and the proper procedures of preparing and serving.
Wash hands and surfaces often
- Clean hands and surfaces. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets. Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item.
- Wash produce. Rinse fresh vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush.
- Learn about proper hygiene, cross contamination, cold and hot food safety, foodborne pathogens, and best practices to prevent foodborne illness.
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Separate raw meats from other foods
- Avoid cross contamination. Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs unless the plate has been washed in hot, soapy water. Don’t reuse marinades used on raw foods unless you bring them to a boil first.
Cook to the right temperature
- Use a food thermometer. Color and texture are unreliable indicators of safety. Using a food thermometer is the only way to ensure the safety of meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products for all cooking methods. These foods must be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria.
- Microwave cooking. When cooking in a microwave oven, cover food, stir, and rotate for even cooking. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking.
Refrigerate foods promptly
- Refrigerate within 2 hours. Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, and other perishables within 2 hours of cooking or purchasing. Refrigerate within 1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90° F.
- Thawing Food. There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.
- Marinating food. Always marinate food in the refrigerator.
- Divide leftovers. Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.
Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures
Use this chart and a food thermometer to ensure that meat, poultry, seafood, and other cooked foods reach a safe minimum internal temperature.
Remember, you can’t tell whether meat is safely cooked by looking at it. Any cooked, uncured red meats – including pork – can be pink, even when the meat has reached a safe internal temperature.
|Category||Food||Temperature (°F)||Rest Time|
|Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures||Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb||160||None|
|Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb||Steaks, roasts, chops||145||3 minutes|
|Poultry||Chicken & Turkey, whole||165||None|
|Poultry breasts, roasts||165||None|
|Poultry thighs, legs, wings||165||None|
|Duck & Goose||165||None|
|Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird)||165||None|
|Pork and Ham||Fresh pork||145||3 minutes|
|Fresh ham (raw)||145||3 minutes|
|Precooked ham (to reheat)||140||None|
|Eggs & Egg Dishes||Eggs||Cook until yolk and white are firm||None|
|Leftovers & Casseroles||Leftovers||165||None|
|Seafood||Fin Fish||145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.||None|
|Shrimp, lobster, and crabs||Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque.||None|
|Clams, oysters, and mussels||Cook until shells open during cooking.||None|
|Scallops||Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm.||None|
If you plan on having your own fiesta and making your world famous tacos – it’s a good time to brush up on the proper food safety procedures for preparing and serving your tacos.