When Holly Golightly’s (Audrey Hepburn) pressure cooker explodes in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and she’s thrown into the arms of the smitten Paul Varjak (George Peppard), such kitchen contraptions seem dangerous and romantic. But there’s nothing to love about a crock pot that puts you at risk for food or lead poisoning!
Slow cooking can preserve nutrients and make a delicious dinner that’s ready to eat as soon as you’re home from work. But you want to make sure the crock-pot liner is lead free; some older pots were found to have contaminated inside glazes. (Older pots can be tested using a lead-test kit; consult www2.Epa.gov/lead/lead-test-kits.) New pots’ label will say if they’re lead safe, but Food and Drug Administration standards allow a little lead, so you may want a lead-free designation instead.
Then make sure your pot is heating above 140 F. Bacteria thrive in what the FDA calls the danger zone of 40 F to 140 F. Never put frozen meats into a crock pot, and don’t set it to turn off BEFORE you’re ready to eat – the temperature can fall into the danger zone. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the food is at a safe temp before serving (145 F for pork and beef; 165 F chicken).
Got leftovers? Place them in shallow containers to cool quickly, and refrigerate them within two hours of serving. Then, don’t reheat them in the crock pot. It takes too long to bring them up to a safe temperature. Now you’re set to go slow!
© 2015 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.