A critical part of healthy eating is keeping foods safe. Your risk of food poisoning can be dramatically reduced by safely preparing food at home, yet 1 in 6 Americans are sickened by food poisoning each year. Follow these basic food safety guidelines to reduce your family’s risk of contracting a foodborne illness.
- Wash hands with soap and water: Always handle food with clean hands and perform proper hand washing. Wet hands with warm, clean running water and apply soap. Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub all parts of the hand for 20 seconds. Make sure to get the “uncommon” areas like under finger nails and backs of hand. Rinse hands thoroughly and dry using a clean paper towel. If possible, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet. Make sure to wash hand after using electronic devices (eg, cell phones, laptops, desktop computers, iPads, etc), using the restroom, and performing other tasks such as taking out the garbage.
- Rinse produce: Rinse fresh vegetables and fruits under running water just before eating, cutting, or cooking. Even if you plan to peel or cut the produce before eating, it is important to thoroughly rinse it first to prevent microbes from transferring from the outside to the inside of the produce.
- Separate foods when shopping: Place raw seafood, meat, and poultry in plastic bags. Keep meats separate from other foods in grocery bag. When storing meats in the refrigerator, place them below ready-to-eat foods in the event that their juices leak.
- Separate foods when preparing and serving: Always use a clean cutting board and knife for fresh produce and a separate one for raw seafood, meat, and poultry. Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw food. Make sure to wash hands before touching produce and then seafood, meat, and poultry or vice versa.
- Cook food to safe internal temperatures: A food thermometer should be used to ensure that food is safely cooked and that cooked food is held at safe temperatures until eaten. Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb, and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a safe minimum internal temperature of 145 °F. Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F. Cook all poultry, including ground turkey and chicken, to an internal temperature of 165 °F.
- Keep foods at safe temperatures: Hold cold foods at 40 °F or below. Keep hot foods at 140 °F or above. Foods are no longer safe to eat when they have been in the danger zone between 40-140 °F for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature was above 90 °F). Remember this tip for potlucks and picnics.