Four Essential Food Safety Tips
Every year, about 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from food-borne diseases. Symptoms include diarrhea along with a high fever, prolonged vomiting that prevents you from even keeping liquids down, blood in the stools, decreased urination, dry mouth and dry throat, plus dizziness when standing.
Food safety is an essential way to keep your home and family free of these symptoms. Here are basic food safety tips the whole family should follow:
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and running water before and after you cook.
- Wash work surfaces and utensils after each use:
- Use a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water to further sanitize surfaces and utensils.
- Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under cold running water.
- Wash dishcloths in hot water in the washing machine.
- Do not wash meat, poultry or eggs.
- Don’t cross-contaminate by cutting ready-to-eat foods on the same board as raw meat, poultry or seafood:
- Label different cutting boards for different uses: fresh produce, raw meat, etc.
- Keep meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from all other items in your shopping basket:
- Place raw meat/poultry/seafood in plastic bags before placing them in your reusable totes.
- Keep meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from all ready-to-eat foods in your refrigerator:
- Seal meat/poultry/seafood in plastic bags to prevent them from leaking or dripping onto other foods.
- Leave eggs in their original carton and store them in the main area of the refrigerator, not in the warmer area in the door.
3. Cook and serve at the right temperature
- Use a food thermometer and be sure foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature:
- 145° for whole meats (allow meat to rest at least 3 minutes after cooking and before consuming).
- 160° for ground meats.
- 165° for all poultry.
- Keep cooked food hot for serving – at 140° or above – by using a chafing dish, slow cooker or warming tray.Follow directions when microwaving food:
- The recommended standing time helps food cook safely and completely.
- Check food temperature and be sure it has reached 165° or above.
- Keep your refrigerator between 32° and 40°F and your freezer at 0° or below.
- Don’t overstuff your refrigerator:
- Slow bacteria growth by allowing cold air to circulate throughout the refrigerator.
- Refrigerate foods within 2 hours or germs can begin to grow in many foods:
- In hot months, refrigerate food within 1 hour.
- Divide leftovers into several shallow containers so they chill faster.
- Don’t thaw or marinate on the countertop:
- Always marinate foods in the refrigerator.
- Thaw meats, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator the day before you will use it. Place it on a plate or pan to avoid drips and leaks.
- For faster thawing, submerge the sealed plastic bag in COLD water, changing out the water every 30 minutes. Then cook the food immediately.
- If using the microwave to thaw, cook food immediately.
- Add 50% more cooking time if you immediately cook frozen items.