Foodborne illnesses are easily managed with four easy steps
Remember to clean, separate, cook and chill to reduce food borne illnesses.
Food handling safety risks at home are more common than most people think. Just four simple steps: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill can help prevent harmful bacteria from making your family sick. That is the message being promoted by Be Food Safe, a campaign jointly sponsored by the Partnership for Food Safety Education and its government liaisons from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The four steps are:
Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get on hands, cutting boards, knives and countertops. Frequent cleaning can keep that from happening, and always wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Rinse fruits and vegetables under running tap water just before eating. Rub firm-skin produce (or scrub with clean brush) under running tap water. Blot produce dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel.
Cross-contamination is how bacteria spreads. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods. Keep them apart from other food items in your grocery cart. Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry and seafood and another for salads and ready to eat foods. Store raw meat, poultry and seafood in a container or on a plate so juices can’t drip on other food and place them on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator.
Even for experienced cooks, the incorrect heating and preparation of food means bacteria can survive. Use a food thermometer — you can’t tell food is cooked safely by how it looks. Use the following guidelines for minimum internal temperatures: ground meat and meat mixtures – 160 degrees Fahrenheit; all poultry – 165 F; fresh beef, pork and lamb –145 F with a 3 minute rest for medium rare, 160 F for medium and 170 F for well-done; fish – 145 F; eggs and egg products – 160 F; and leftovers and casseroles should temp out at 165 F.
Bacteria spreads fastest at temperatures between 40 F and 140 F, so chilling food properly (keep a constant refrigerator temperature of 40 F or below) is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Thaw meat, poultry, and seafood in the fridge, not on the counter and don’t overstuff the fridge.
These four easy practices can help prevent harmful bacteria from making your family sick.