Preventing Foodborne Illness

Hand Hygiene

Washing your hands with soap and warm water is the best way to protect yourself from many illnesses caused by viruses and bacteria, and to prevent germs from spreading. Germs hide on many surfaces, such as door handles, faucets, countertops, phones, and remote controls. Because we cannot see germs, it is important to wash hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water. While regular handwashing is important, it is essential to wash your hands at these times:

  • Before touching any food or eating, especially between handling raw and ready-to-eat food (produce and fully-cooked foods, etc.).
  • After using the bathroom
  • After handling animals or animal waste

The following instructions will remove up to 99.9% of germs from your hands:

  • Wet your hands with clean water
  • Apply Soap
  • Rub your hands together vigorously and scrub all surfaces
  • Scrub for 20 seconds
  • Rinse with clean water
  • Dry hands

For more information about hand hygiene, visit: Handwashing: A Healthy Habit in the Kitchen | Handwashing | CDC

Steps for Food Safety

1. Clean: Wash your hands and surfaces often

Germs that can cause food poisoning can survive in many places around your kitchen. Clean your utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with hot, soapy water; wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water; and rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water.

2. Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate

  • Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread germs to ready-to-eat foods. Keep them separate to avoid cross-contamination by preparing and storing them separately.
  • When preparing raw foods, use separate utensils and equipment- do not use these same utensils to prepare ready-to-eat foods unless they are properly cleaned/sanitized first. Clean surfaces between preparing raw food and ready to eat foods.
  • When storing your foods, do not store raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs next to ready-to-eat foods. The raw food can leak and can contaminate the ready-to-eat food.

3. Cook to the proper temperature

Food is safely cooked when the internal temperature gets high enough to kill germs that can make you sick. The only way to tell if food is safely cooked is to use a food thermometer. You can’t tell if food is safely cooked by checking its color and texture.

Use a food thermometer to ensure foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature:

  • Whole cuts of beef, veal, lamb, and pork, including fresh ham (raw): 145°F
  • Fish with fins: 145°F, or cook until flesh is opaque
  • Ground meats, such as beef and pork: 160°F
  • All poultry, including ground chicken and turkey: 165°F
  • Leftovers and casseroles: 165°F

4. Chill: Refrigerate promptly

  • Bacteria can multiply rapidly if left at room temperature or in the “Danger Zone” between 40°F and 140°F.
  • Never leave perishable food out for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour if exposed to temperatures above 90°F). Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
  • Refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours. If the food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F (like a hot car or picnic), refrigerate it within 1 hour.
  • Keep your refrigerator at 40°F or below and know when it’s time to throw out food. Know when to throw: Cold Food Storage Chart |
  • Do not keep unfrozen leftover perishable food more than 7 days. Before storing in a refrigerator, it’s a good idea to date mark the foods to help determine if a food should be discarded or consumed. Frozen foods may remain safe for several months if not defrosted.
  • Thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Never thaw foods on the counter because bacteria multiply quickly in the parts of the food that reach room temperature.