What you need to know about "Ready to Cook" foods

With "Ready to Cook" foods, it's essential to follow instructions to avoid foodborne illness.

What are “Ready to Cook” foods? They are foods that include all of the ingredients, where some preparation or cooking is required through a process that is given on the package. Not following the preparation and cooking instructions may lead to bacteria contamination, which can cause foodborne illness.

The convenience of “Ready to Cook” foods during the holiday season can save time and effort. One example of a “Ready to Cook” food is raw, packaged cookie dough, a frozen entrée or pizza. Eating these types of food without cooking them as directed on the package, can make you sick. This is especially true for people with weak immune systems, young children, seniors, and pregnant women, where some bacteria can be harmful or deadly to unborn babies. Cooking them according to the package directions will kill any bacteria that cause illness.

To keep your holiday season happy and your loved ones healthy, follow preparation directions on all “Ready to Cook” foods. This is important to follow all year around, not just the holiday season.

For more information on keeping food safe in the kitchen, proper use of food thermometers, expiration dates and how long leftovers last, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

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