Updating the old family recipe

We all have old recipe books and recipes that have been around for years, but are they safe to use? Many of the ways that food was handled or preserved in the past are no longer recommended.

According to the U.S. Public Health Service, the four most serious food borne pathogens are E. Coli, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter jejuni. Other than Salmonella, these bacteria were not known as a threat to food safety until recently. Some of the bacteria are new, and some of them have just developed into stronger strains.

Americans have become more cautious after several instances of food borne illness that caused the deaths of individuals made the headlines. There are many unsafe recipes in magazines and on the Internet. Canning recipes should be from 1989 or newer. When in doubt about a canning recipe, compare it to modern recipe instructions or contact your local County Extension Office. The following are some critical food safety points on a recipe that should be checked and updated if not correct.

Oven temperatures should be no lower than 325 degrees Fahrenheit for cooking meats, poultry or casseroles that contain meat or poultry.

Eggs should be thoroughly cooked until the whites and yolk are firm. If a recipe that is not to be cooked calls for uncooked or partially cooked eggs, do not use the recipe unless commercially pasteurized eggs can be used to reduce the risk.

Meat and poultry need to be handled with care to insure that any bacteria they have come in contact with are destroyed. This is even more critical for ground meat products. The inside color of the meat is not always an accurate indicator of doneness. The only way to insure that the internal temperature of the meat is high enough is to use a thermometer.

There are many unsafe recipes in circulation, so check the oven temperatures, check for raw eggs and check to see that the directions for handling meats or poultry are safe.

When using old canning or pickling recipes, compare them to current recommended practices to see if they are safe. It is even better to get current recipes from your local county Extension Office.