FDA ~~ Cinco de Mayo: How to Prepare Shredded Meat and Poultry Safely


photo showing fajitas on a plate with meat and veggies with guacamole, salsa and cheese on the side.Dishes popular for Cinco de Mayo include Chimichangas, Fajitas and tacos.

In the U.S. and aboard, many will celebrate Cinco de Mayo by hosting large parties, cooking delicious traditional Mexican foods and drinking margaritas.

Among the most popular Cinco de Mayo dishes are Chimichangas, Fajitas and tacos. These dishes usually contain shredded beef, chicken and pork cooked in delicious sauces and spices. If you are thinking of making one of these dishes, then this blog is for you!

While there are many excellent recipes, below is the most basic way to handle and prepare shredded meat and poultry safely.

Before You Start Cooking with your Slow Cooker

Before heading to the store, check your slow cooker manual to find out how much meat the pot can hold. Some smaller cookers can only hold three pounds of meat, while others may fit up to ten pounds.

At the grocery store, buy the meat of your choice (beef, chicken or pork), place it in a plastic bag and bring it home within two hours; or one hour when the room temperature is above 90 °F. Use chicken within two days and cuts of red meat cuts, such as beef and pork within 3-5 days.

Slow Cooking Your Meat Base for Cinco de Mayo Recipes

Always start with a clean cooker, clean utensils and a clean work area. Wash hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before food preparation.

Add thawed meat and desired amount of liquid and spices suggested in your recipe, such as broth, water or barbecue sauce. Keep the lid in place, removing only to stir the food.

When you’re ready to shred the meat, use either a clean large, shallow bowl or platter and two clean forks to pull the meat apart. This meat can be used for any of the Cinco de Mayo recipes we mentioned, so get creative!

For more information on slow cookers: Slow Cookers and Food Safety

For more information on cooking for large groups: Cooking for Large Groups

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