Ask Hilary

Is your slow cooker hot enough to kill listeria bacteria?

Sunday Times food editor Hilary Biller answers your cooking questions

01 April 2018 - 00:00 By Hilary Biller

Q. I'm suffering from listeria hysteria and concerned about cooking in my slow cooker as I'm not sure it reaches a high enough temperature to kill the listeria bacteria. - Daphne, Pretoria
A. Listeria is unlike many other bacteria because it can grow even in the cold temperature in the refrigerator but is killed by cooking at a temperature of 74°C and higher.
How does this affect slow cookers? There are a wide range of slow cookers on the market and the good news is that the average low temperature is between 90°C and 100°C and the highest setting about 125°C.I recommend that to be safe, ensure you brown the protein - meat, chicken or fish - first in a frying pan in a little oil on the stove over a high heat - even soup that includes protein - before adding it to the slow cooker.
Set the cooker on high rather than low or auto - for peace of mind.

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