Food Safety Do's and Don'ts for Ramadan
Zoya Sattar, Public Affairs Specialist, Food Safety and Education Staff
Three Food Safety Tips to Remember for Cooking while Fasting
A blessed Ramadan to all those who celebrate! As the month of fasting in Islam begins, families are looking forward to gathering for community and home-cooked meals. Don’t let 15 hours of no food or water (and those dreaded coffee cravings) lead to forgetfulness in the kitchen, so here are three food safety tips to keep handy as you whip up your family-favorite meals for a spectacular iftar (the meal eaten after sunset during Ramadan.)
- Cook to a safe internal temperature. Timing is everything when rushing to have food on the table by sunset, and you really want that perfect first bite after a long day of fasting. But don’t rush the cooking process! Give yourself ample time to ensure your meat and poultry dishes reach a safe internal temperature:
- Lamb and beef, whole-cuts: 145 F, with a three-minute rest time.
- Lamb and beef, ground: 160 F.
- All poultry, whole or ground: 165 F.
Having a food thermometer handy will keep the guesswork out and ensure you have a safely cooked food ready in time to break your fast.
- Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Food may not last long on the table once iftar time hits, but remember, cold foods should be kept under 40 F, and this can be done by serving the food dishes in bowls of ice. Hot foods should be kept above 140 F, which is where a preheated oven or slow cooker can come in handy.
- Remember the 2-hour rule. As you sit back after iftar, content from a good meal, time creeps by. Suddenly it’s time to leave for the mosque, where many Muslims spend Ramadan nights in prayer among their community. In the hurry to clean and leave on time, don’t forget to safely store your food. Never leave perishable food out at room temperature over two hours (or one hour if the temperature is above 90 F). Bacteria that can cause foodborne illness will start to grow to dangerous levels between 40 F and 140 F. This temperature range is called the “Danger Zone,” and the only danger zone we want to approach in Ramadan is the risk of eating too many sweets.
With these simple steps to food safety, you’re all set to go forth and carry out your Ramadan cooking. Have a safe Ramadan!
Food Safety Specialists are Here for You
Need more information about food safety? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-MPHotline (888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety specialist, email MPHotline@usda.gov or chat live at ask.usda.gov from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.