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  3. Food Safety

Food Safety

Release Date: September 1, 2022

When preparing foods, there are four basic steps to help protect yourself and your loved ones from food poisoning: clean, separate, cook, and chill.

Clean: Wash your hands and surfaces often.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before, during, and after preparing food and again before eating.
  • Wash your cutting boards and counter with hot soapy water and make sure your utensils are clean before you start to prepare food.
  • Clean the lids of cans before opening and rinse fruits and vegetables under running water.
  • Do not rinse raw meat or poultry before cooking. You might contaminate other things by splashing disease-causing microbes.
  • Keep your refrigerator clean, especially the vegetable and meat bins. When there is a spill, use hot soapy water to clean it up.

Separate: Do not cross-contaminate.

  • Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and their juices and shells away from other foods that won't be cooked before they are eaten.
  • Keep raw vegetables and fruit separate from raw meat. Store meat, poultry, and seafood in sealed and separate containers.
  • When cooking, keep ready-to-eat foods like fresh produce or bread apart from food that will be cooked.
  • Use a different knife and cutting board for fresh produce than you use for meat.

Cook: Cook to the right temperature.

  • Use a food thermometer to ensure foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature to kill germs that can make you sick.
  • Microwave food thoroughly.
  • Bring sauces, marinades, soups, and gravy to a boil when reheating.

Chill: Refrigerate promptly.

  • Refrigerate food within 2 hours of buying or cooking it.
  • Keep foods cold in a cooler or refrigerator at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.  
  • Put leftovers in a clean, shallow container that is covered and dated. Use or freeze leftovers within 3 to 4 days.
  • Thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Never thaw food on the counter because bacteria can multiply quickly in parts of food that reach room temperature.

For more information about food safety, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Food Safety page.  

Last Updated: 05/23/2024
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