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. Im Kathy Bernard with the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Todays topic is corned beef food safety.
Lets listen in to two friends talking as they stroll through the park.
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 its right around the corner. Mmmmm. I can smell the corned beef now!
Oh, you must be talking about St. Patricks Day and the traditional corned beef and cabbage. Did you know that serving corned beef and cabbage on St. Patricks Day is actually an American tradition?
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, lets look up more information about corned beef.
Great, well 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 USDAs 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 corned beef.
Friend 1: Yes, Ive always wondered when I purchase meat, whats 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 havent 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 the packaging.
Wow, I didnt 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 three months.
Look at this! FSISs Web site lists 4 different ways to cook corned beef.
- 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.
Thats good to know, Ill use my food thermometer all the time, now that I know its important for safety.
Look at this, the Web site also says that after cooking, the meat might still have a pink color, not because its undercooked, but because the nitrites used in the curing
process turns the meat pink. Thats why taking the temperature of the meat is so important. As long as it reaches one hundred and sixty degrees Fahrenheit, you know its safe to eat.
FSISs 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 its 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 weve learned today, I know that preparing food safely requires more than just relying on the luck of the Irish.
You can find all of this information and more, by visiting the FSIS Web site at www.fsis.usda.gov. Thats 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. Thats 1-888-674-6854.
Thats it for this week. Weve been talking about corned beef food safety. Im Kathy Bernard and Id 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 to
Thanks for tuning in.