Cook frozen food carefully so you don’t get sick!

With more people preparing meals at home, it is important to practice good food safety principles in the kitchen. This includes reading the label to understand how to prepare frozen foods properly.  New research from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) tells us that consumers may not know how to cook frozen foods safely. This can increase the risk of a foodborne illness making you sick.

Frozen foods are a great option for busy families. You can quickly and easily prepare them in the oven or microwave.  But it is important to follow the instructions printed on the package to cook the food properly.  Some frozen foods are fully cooked, and you only need to heat them before eating.  However, some frozen foods are raw, and you need to completely cook them before eating.

You can’t always tell by looking at the picture on the package or the food itself, especially if the food is breaded.  For example, some chicken products are breaded raw and then frozen.  Their labels might say “Cook and Serve,” “Oven Ready,” or “Ready to Cook.”  Others are breaded, cooked, and frozen.  These products are labeled “Fully Cooked.”  You must read the label to know what type of product you are buying and how to properly prepare it.

Good food safety principles include washing your hands before preparing food and after handling raw frozen food. Read the label for proper cooking instructions, and always use a food thermometer to make sure frozen foods reach a safe internal temperature before eating.

USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service!ut/p/a1/04_Sj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfGjzOINAg3MDC2dDbwsfDxdDDz9AtyMgnyMDf3dDIAKIkEKcABHA0L6w_WjUJX4Wxq6AZWEBfp7OzsbWPgZwxTgtqIgN8Ig01FREQBCfym8/?1dmy&page=gov.usda.fsis.internet.topics&urile=wcm%3apath%3a%2FFSIS-Content%2Finternet%2Fmain%2Fnewsroom%2Fnews-releases-statements-and-transcripts%2Fnews-release-archives-by-year%2Farchive%2F2020%2Fnr-09232020-01
Source: Annhall Norris, Food Safety and Preservation Extension Specialist