Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service Food Safety
at home podcast series. These podcasts were designed with
you in mind - the consumer - who purchases and prepares meat, poultry
and processed meat, egg products for your family and friends.
Each episode will bring you a different food safety topic ranging
from safe storage, handling, and preparation of meat, poultry and
processed egg products to the importance of keeping foods safe during
a power outage.
So sit back, turn up the volume and listen in.
Welcome to “Food Safety at Home.” I’m Kathy Bernard with the
Food Safety and Inspection Service. Today’s topic is corned beef
Let’s listen in to two friends talking as they stroll through
What a nice day for a walk. March is finally here and Spring is
in the air!
Yes, Spring is only a few weeks away.
The arrival of spring reminds me of my favorite celebrations,
and it’s right around the corner. Mmmmm. I can smell the corned
Oh, you must be talking about St. Patrick’s Day and the
traditional corned beef and cabbage. Did you know that serving
corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day is actually an
Yes, most of Ireland celebrated with boiled pork and cabbage
because beef was reserved for the wealthy. When the Irish
immigrants came to America the only meat they could find, which
was similar in texture, was corned beef.
What does “corned beef” mean, anyway?
Well, it has nothing to do with corn. Corning a piece of meat is
another name for curing. Before refrigeration was invented, the
beef was dry cured in course grains of salt that resembled
kernels of corn. Hence the name….
Both friends (together):
I get it! Since we are almost back to the house, let’s look up
more information about corned beef.
Great, we’ll learn something new today!
Oh, look at all the places on the Internet to learn about corned
beef. Which one should we choose?
Hmmmm, this might be a good place to start at the USDA’s Food
Safety and Inspection Service Web site. It looks
like a great resource for the safe cooking of corned beef, and
we want to BE FOOD SAFE!
Wow! What a great Web site. It covers all the topics we need to
know, from tips on buying, handling, and cooking the meat, to
storing the leftovers safely.
But, I think we need to start at the beginning, purchasing your
Friend 1: Yes, I’ve always wondered when I purchase meat, what’s
the difference between “use-by” and “sell-by dates?”
Buying uncooked corned beef brisket with the pickling spices
could be dated two ways. The “sell-by” date is a guide for the
store, to make sure they rotate their stock. For us, it means we
have five to seven days to cook or freeze the beef from the time
of purchase. The “use-by” date is exactly what it says, if you
haven’t cooked or frozen the beef by the “use-by” date, it could
spoil. If you decide to freeze the beef, FSIS says it can be
frozen uncooked, but you need to remove the pickling spices from
Wow, I didn’t know that!
Yes, you can store it in the freezer up to one month for best
quality. After cooking the beef, it can be stored in the
refrigerator for three to four days or in the freezer for two to
Look at this! FSIS’s Web site lists 4 different ways to cook
- in the oven
- on top of the stove
- in a slow cooker
- or in the microwave
One factor remains the same though, for all four methods. The
beef needs to be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature
of one hundred and sixty degrees Fahrenheit for safety.
That’s good to know, I’ll use my food thermometer all the
time, now that I know it’s important for safety.
Look at this, the Web site also says that after cooking, the
meat might still have a pink color, not because it’s
undercooked, but because the nitrites used in the curing
process turns the meat pink. That’s why taking the temperature
of the meat is so important. As long as it reaches one hundred
and sixty degrees Fahrenheit, you know it’s safe to eat.
FSIS’s Web site lists a few extra tips to keep in Mind when
preparing corned beef, like,
- Letting the beef stand for ten minutes before cutting,
to make cutting easier.
- You can prepare the beef a day ahead and slice when
cold, this allows for more uniform cuts, and easier to
reheat when it’s covered in a shallow pan.
- But, Always remember to refrigerate any leftovers within
two hours of cooking. Leftovers can remain in the
refrigerator for three to four days or in the freezer for up
to three months for best quality.
After all that we’ve learned today, I know that preparing
food safely requires more than just relying on the “luck of the
You can find all of this information and more, by visiting the
FSIS Web site at www.fsis.usda.gov. That’s fsis.usda.gov. Or
visit us online for assistance from our virtual representative
“Ask Karen” askKaren.gov.
Consumers may also call our toll-free USDA Meat & Poultry
Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline. That’s 1-888-674-6854.
That’s it for this week. We’ve been talking about corned beef
food safety. I’m Kathy Bernard and I’d like to thank you for
joining us for this episode of “Food Safety at Home.” And
remember, “Be Food Safe.”
Well, that's all for this time. Thanks for joining us today
for another episode of food safety at home!
For answers to your food safety questions call USDA's toll-free
Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline. That's 1-888-674-6854.
You can also get answers to food safety questions online from our
virtual representative "Ask Karen" at
Let us know what you think of this podcast by sending your comments
Thanks for tuning in.