For many hoisting a pint of Guinness for a toast is a St. Patrick’s Day tradition. So, you would think if someone became ill resulting from the holiday’s festivities it would be from indulging in a few too many alcoholic beverages. According to the nonprofit, public health organization Stop Foodborne Illness, many of the people who call in sick the day after St. Patrick’s Day though may be the victim of another culprit. Foodborne illness from a traditional Irish meal of corned beef.
Come to think about it enjoying a Reuben sandwich has been part of my St. Patrick’s Day routine for as long as I can remember. Corned Beef and Cabbage, Corned Beef Brisket, Corned Beef Hash → There are a variety of corned beef meals that are popular meals to eat during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.
Whether staying at home or traveling, travelingdad.com has some helpful hints to avoid getting “sham-rocked” by foodborne illness on St. Patrick’s Day. Follow these tips from Stop Foodborne Illness to help prevent yourself from getting ill while celebrating the holiday:
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Keeping Corned Beef Safe to Eat – Storing and Preparing:
The luck of the Irish only goes so far, so knowing how to properly store, prepare, cook, and reheat your corned beef will help you avoid foodborne illness this St. Paddy’s Day. Corned beef comes from the tougher part of the cow, and to tenderize the beef it is placed in a bath of salt water along with spices, most commonly peppercorns and bay leaf. If you buy uncooked corned beef in a salt brine drain the brine before freezing or refrigerating because the excess salt can cause the beef to go rancid. If the brine is not drained, the corned beef can be stored unopened safely 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator.
Keeping Corned Beef Safe to Eat – Cooking and Leftovers:
Corned beef can be prepared in several different ways, and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) doesn’t recommend one kind of cooking over the other. The five freshest ways to fix corned beef are: 1) in the oven, 2) in an oven cooking bag, 3) in a slow cooker, 4) on the stove, and 5) in the microwave. Make sure that you follow the temperature and time instructions for the specific cooking method that you are using. Find the USDA’s instructions for cooking corned beef here.
Keeping Corned Beef Safe to Eat – The Fork Test
Whether eating out or at home the USDA says that “fork-tender” is a “good indication of doneness.” That means the meat is tender enough to be easily cut with a fork. Of course, if you have access to a food thermometer don’t be lazy and not take advantage of using it. The meat should be heated to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit before consuming.
Stanley Rutledge from Stop Foodborne Illness warns that your food may look done and the meat may look pink but this does not indicate it is done. He urges people to use a food thermometer whenever possible. “It is essential to making sure your food is safe to eat,” Rutledge relayed.
Also, allow the meat to rest for at least 3 minutes before carving and eating. If cooking ahead of time, allow the beef to cool, slice it, and place it in containers to refrigerate within two hours of cooking. Leftover corned beef can be consumed safely within 3-4 days of cooking when put in the fridge, or can be frozen for up to 2-3 months. Reheat any leftovers to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit and use a food thermometer to check.
What are some ways to protect yourself when eating out? Stop Foodborne Illness suggests being attentive to your surroundings. As soon as you notice something that doesn’t seem sanitary or receive food that seems ill-prepared ask to speak with the restaurant manager. Maybe it’s how your food looks or smells. Dirty silverware. Someone in the kitchen who’s coughing up a storm.
People shouldn’t be wary about speaking up. This behavior by customer encourages establishments to take the safety of their patrons seriously and promotes a food safety culture. Keep in mind the point of this conversation is not to be confrontational insulting or humiliating the manager, their staff, or the restaurant. It is to ensure that a place serving the public is taking their food safety responsibilities seriously. CLICK HERE for suggestions from Stop Foodborne Illness on how to speak up and raise concerns when eating out.
The folks from Stop Foodborne Illness also recommend caution when it comes to drinking specialty cocktails on St. Patrick’s Day. They particularly pointed out the traditional Irish drink called An Bodhran. This cocktail is made with Irish Whiskey, maple sugar and a raw egg. Why be wary of partaking in this drink? Its ingredients include a raw egg. Stop Foodborne Illness against consuming raw eggs because they could contain salmonella, a harmful bacteria that leads directly to food poisoning.
St. Patrick Day Feasting
There is an Irish proverb that an ounce of caution is worth a pound of gold. Enjoy some celebratory drinks and corned beef having a good time feasting on St. Patrick’s Day. I know I will be!
Just don’t rely on the luck of the Irish to avoid foodborne illnesses. Be proactive in being smart about what you eat and drink. Nobody wants to be hurling a rainbow into a pot after this holiday because of a foodborne illness when it could have been avoided with some simple precautions. For more food safety tips please visit www.stopfoodborneillness.org/awareness/.