Safety Nutrition

Slow cooker food safety

crock pot
Photo: powerofforever/iStockphoto

Do you love the idea of a hot, comforting meal that’s easy to prepare? A slow cooker might be right for you. But before you try out recipes, let’s go over some basics about slow cooker food safety.

The University of Minnesota says slow cookers are safe when used correctly. “The combination of direct heat from the pot, lengthy cooking and steam destroys bacteria, making the slow cooker a safe process for cooking foods,” the university’s website says. When using a slow cooker, follow these tips:

  • Begin with clean instruments: hands, utensils, surfaces and the cooker itself.
  • Make sure all meat or chicken is properly thawed. If frozen meat is placed in the cooker, it may not reach 140° F and won’t be safe to eat.
  • When the meal is done, check it with a food thermometer. Meat roasts should be 145-160° F; chicken should be 165° F; and soups, stews and sauces should be 165° F.
  • Don’t leave food in the cooker to cool off. Eat it immediately or put leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate.
  • Don’t use a slow cooker to reheat food. Instead, use a microwave or stovetop to quickly bring food to 165° F or above.

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