Food Safety

Each year, 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. Foodborne diseases also send more than 100,000 Americans to the hospital each year and can have long-term health consequences, such as kidney failure, chronic arthritis, brain and nerve damage and even death. Follow four simple steps to keep you and your family safe from foodborne diseases at home.

Four Simple Steps to Food Safety


CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often

Illness-causing bacteria can survive in many places around the kitchen, including hands, utensils and cutting boards. Unless hands, utensils and surfaces are washed right away, bacteria could be spread.

      Wash hands right away for 20 seconds with soap and running water. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.

     Wash surfaces and utensils after each use. Rinsing utensils, countertops and cutting boards with water won't do enough to stop bacteria from spreading. Clean utensils and small cutting boards with hot, soapy water. Clean surfaces and cutting boards with a bleach solution.

     Wash fruits and vegetables - but not meat, poultry or eggs. Even if you plan to peel fruits and vegetables, it is important to wash them first because bacteria can spread from the outside to the inside as you cut or peel them.

SEPARATE: Don't cross contaminate

Even after hands and surfaces have been cleaned thoroughly, raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs can still spread illness-causing bacteria to ready-to-eat foods unless they have been kept separate.

      Use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils for raw (uncooked) produce and for raw (uncooked) meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.

      Keep meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from all other foods while you are shopping at the grocery store.

      Keep meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from all other foods in the refrigerator.

COOK: Cook to the right temperature

One of the basics of food safety is cooking food to its proper temperature. Foods are properly cooked with they are heated for long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. While many people think they can tell when food is done by simply checking its color and texture, there is no way to be sure it is safe without following a few important, but simple, steps.

      Use a food thermometer. Make sure food reaches its safe minimum cooking temperature ( Internal temperatures should be:

• 145°F for beef, pork, veal and lamb (roast, steak and chops). Allow the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating
• 160°F for ground beef, pork, veal and lamb
• 165°F for ground turkey and chicken
• 165°F for all poultry
• 145°F for pork and ham. Allow to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating.
• Eggs and egg dishes should be cooked until the yolk and white are firm.

     During meals, while food is being served and eaten, keep it hot (at 140°F or above). After meals are over, refrigerate leftover food quickly.

     Microwave food thoroughly (to 165°F)

CHILL: Refrigerate promptly

Illness-causing bacteria can grow in many foods within two hours if they are not refrigerated. During the summer heat (when temperatures are 90°F or higher), cut that time down to one hour.

      Refrigerate the foods that tend to spoil more quickly (like fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs and meats) within two hours. Warm foods will chill faster if they are divided into several clean, shallow containers.

      Thaw or marinate foods in the refrigerator, never on the counter or in the kitchen sink.

      Know when to throw food out.

For additional information on food safety:

      Food Safety (CDC) 

      USDA Food Safety