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Four Steps to Food Safety

Information from Fight BAC, www.fightbac.org

1. Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often.

Bacteria, viruses, and parasites can be spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, and countertops.

• Wash your hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets.

• Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.

• Important: Rinse raw produce in water. Don’t use soap or detergents. If necessary, use a small vegetable brush to remove surface dirt.

2. Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate.

Cross-contamination is the word for how bacteria, viruses and parasites can be spread from one food product to another. This is especially true when handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, so keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.

• Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods in your grocery shopping cart and in your refrigerator.

• If possible, use a different cutting board for raw meat, poultry and seafood products.

Always wash hands, cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot, soapy water after they come in contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.

• Use separate plates for cooked food and raw foods.

3. Cook: Cook to proper temperatures.

Food safety experts agree that foods are properly cooked when they are heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful pathogens that cause foodborne illness.

• Use a clean thermometer that measures the internal temperature of cooked food to make sure meat, poultry, and casseroles are cooked to the proper

temperatures

• Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm. If you use recipes in which eggs remain raw or only partially cooked, use pasteurized eggs.

• Fish should be opaque and flake easily with a fork.

• When cooking in a microwave oven, make sure there are no cold spots where pathogens can survive. For best results, cover food, stir, and rotate for even cooking. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking.

• Bring sauces, soups, and gravy to a boil when reheating.

4. Chill: Refrigerate promptly.

Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures keep harmful pathogens from growing and multiplying. So, set your refrigerator no higher than 40°F and the freezer at 0°F. Check these temperatures occasionally with an appliance thermometer.

• Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods, and leftovers within two hours or sooner.

• Never defrost food at room temperature. Thaw food in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave.

• Marinate foods in the refrigerator.

• Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quick cooling in the refrigerator.

• Don’t pack the refrigerator. Cool air must circulate to keep food safe.

USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures

  • Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.
  • Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
  • Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.