Do not rinse the meat of sacrificial animals before cooking it. Why? By doing so, you will spread more bacteria around your sink. Cooking the meat to a proper temperature is a far better way of killing bacteria. Beef, veal and lamb should reach 63°C. Reheat leftovers to 70°C.
This piece of advice came from Dr. Rezzan Khan, consultant nutritionist at Shifa International while sharing with ‘The News,’ some basic tips on how to handle, process and store the meat of sacrificed animals on Eid to avoid food-borne diseases such as salmonella, listeria and toxoplasma.
“During the sacrifice and distribution, and also while preparing meat dishes, you should wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds before, during and after handling raw meat. Make sure to use two separate cutting boards to avoid cross-contamination; one for raw meats and the other for fruits and vegetables. Alternatively, you can thoroughly wash the cutting board before switching from meats to vegetables and fruits and vice versa,” she advised.
Outside cooking is an activity that the whole family can enjoy on Eid. Grilling on a BBQ is a healthy cooking technique, as this method requires no added fat, and the excess fat in meat drips away. “However, don’t leave your steaks sizzling in the sun for hours before you are going to cook them. Keep the meat in the fridge until about 10-15 minutes before you are ready to cook it. Marinade meat in the fridge — not on the counter or outside in the field. If you want to re-use marinade that has touched raw meat, always bring it to boil first,” Dr. Rezzan suggested.
According to the nutritionist, cooked meats should not be left un-refrigerated for more than two hours. “If there is any meat left and needs to be stored, always handle the meats with clean, dry hands. Store meat in the coldest part of the refrigerator, or in the meat bin of the refrigerator. Use fresh, raw meats stored in the refrigerator within 3-4 days,” she recommended.
Throw away defrosted ground meat, sausages or organ meats after they have been out for two days; meats that are not going to be used immediately should always be stored in a freezer. Cooked meat should be eaten or frozen within 3-4 days. Do not forget to put the labels for leftover and make sure the meat is tightly wrapped.
Defrost meats in the refrigerator on the lowest shelf with a pan or a plate below it to catch any drips or in the microwave by using the defrost setting — never on the counter. Do not re-freeze thawed meat.
“Proper care for prevention of contamination can save us from infection, diarrhoea and some very deadly diseases,” Dr. Rezzan said in conclusion.