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 Home>Food & Health>Education Resources>EatSmart>Lessons>

Food Safe Consumer (Lesson 23)

 


In 2010, it was estimated that about 76 million people are sickened each year by foodborne illnesses.  Improper food handling at the point of preparation accounts for the largest number of foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 97% of foodborne illnesses could be prevented by simply washing hands and improving food-handling practices.  So simply put, everyone who handles food needs to know safe food-handling practices.

Upon completing the lesson, you should be able to:

  • Identify the best defense against foodborne illness.
  • List at least 8 of the 10 common consumer-based causes of foodborne illness.
  • State the correct formula for making a sanitizing solution at home.
  • Identify the correct type of cutting board to be used in food preparation.
  • Identify three or more areas in the kitchen that need to be routinely sanitized.
  • List at least three ways to ensure that cold foods stay cold in transit from the store to home.
  • State the recommended temperatures for the refrigerator and freezer.
  • List three storage procedures that keep perishable foods (fresh, frozen and leftovers) safe.
  • Describe three safe methods for thawing foods.
  • Describe three or more ways that cross contamination can be avoided.
  • State the minimum internal temperature required for the following cooked foods to be safe:
    • ground meat
    • poultry
  • Identify the maximum time turkey may be held at room temperature immediately after cooking.
  • State the proper procedure for reheating leftovers.



 The 10 most common food safety mistakes:
  • Countertop thawing.
  • Leftovers left on the counter.
  • Unclean cutting board.
  • Marinating at room temperature.
  • Excess lag time from the store to refrigerator.
  • Using the same platter for raw and cooked meats.
  • Restaurant doggie bag delay in refrigeration.
  • Using the same spoon to stir and taste.
  • Shared knife for raw meat and vegetables.
  • Hide-and-eat Easter eggs left unrefrigerated.


(Source: Plating It Safe: A Market-to-Mealtime Checklist to Help Keep Food Safe, the National Association of County Health Officials, the Beef Board and the Beef Industry Council of the Meat Board, 1994)




    Explore the Keep Food Safe Blog for monthly postings on proper food safety.


    Good personal hygiene is the best protective measure against foodborne illness.
     
    Frequent and thorough hand washing with warm or cold running water and soap is the best defense. Be sure to read the Hand Washing section elsewhere in the curriculum to learn the proper method. A hand sanitizer should not be a substitute for handwashing. To get young children in on the action, have them sing a song, such as the ABC song or the Happy Birthday sung twice. This is about how long it takes to wash hands, and it becomes a fun activity. Come up with other songs that last 20 seconds!

    Cleaning, or the removal of visible soil or food from a surface, is the first step toward a sanitary kitchen. Wash surfaces and utensils with a detergent solution and rinse with water. Sanitizing, or the reduction of microorganisms to a safe level, is the next step. Sanitizing is usually done by using 2 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of warm water. Allow dishes and utensils to air dry. When putting dishes and utensils away, always handle eating utensils properly. Never touch any surface that will come in contact with the user's mouth.

    Use plastic or other non-porous cutting boards. They should be run through the dishwasher or washed in hot soapy water and rinsed after each use. Paper towels make the best wiping cloths. If you use cloth towels and have children in the house, consider using color-coded ones.  For example, blues ones could be for drying hands, and white ones could be used to clean up spills. This way you wouldn't clean up a spill and then wipe your child's face, possibly spreading pathogenic bacteria. Always wash cloth towels on the hot-water cycle of the washing machine after each use.

    Several areas of the kitchen are easy to overlook. When was the last time you washed your can opener? The blade working unit should be washed and rinsed after each use, whether it's a manual or an electric one. Give particular attention to the sink, especially the openings to the drain. This should be wiped down often. If you have a garbage disposal, this can become grungy quickly. Periodically sanitize it by pouring down the sink a solution of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach in a quart of water (FDA Consumer, November, 1996).

    Dispose of garbage as needed to prevent odor and to prevent attracting pests. Store garbage in containers that have tight-fitting lids and that are easy to clean. Clean at least once a month, and don't forget to clean the handles. Since insects and pests can carry harmful bacteria on their bodies, control them. Either keep them out, deprive them of food and shelter, or kill them. An insect or rodent infestation is considered a serious health risk, and a licensed pest control operator should be consulted.


    The safety of the food supply is monitored from farm to the point of sale. It is your responsibility to select foods from the store and then keep them safe until you use them. Planning menus and organizing grocery lists to follow the flow of the store aisles can help you organize the safest order in which to pick up your perishable groceries.

    Here are some food safety tips to get in the habit of following while in the grocery:

    • Canned foods should be free of dents, rust or bulging lids.
    • Check that refrigerated foods feel cold and frozen foods are solid with no signs of thawing. The packaging should be free of holes or tears.
    • Read the sell-by and use-by dates of perishable foods. If the sell-by date has passed, don't buy the product. The use-by date applies to its use at home.
    • Purchase perishable foods such as meat, poultry and seafood last. Consider using a plastic bag to enclose packages of raw meat and poultry so juices won't accidentally spill on other groceries.
    • Meats contain Safe Handling Instructions. The label shows and tells how to safely store and thaw meat and poultry, prevent bacteria from spreading, cook thoroughly and store leftovers. Many food items have references such as these.
    • In the checkout line, pack cold foods together. They will remain chilled longer. They'll also be easier and faster to put away when you get home.
    • Take groceries straight home to the refrigerator and store them immediately. If travel time will exceed 30 minutes, pack perishable foods in a cooler with chill packs. Store the cooler in the coolest part of the car.



    Keep your refrigerator below 40 degrees F. Keep your freezer temperature below 0 degrees F. Use an appliance thermometer to verify the temperature regularly.

    Store foods quickly. No perishable food should be left at room temperature for more than two hours. Use these perishable foods while they are still at their peak of freshness. Place raw meat, poultry and seafood on a plate or in a plastic bag and store it on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so juices don't drip onto other foods and cause cross-contamination.

    Store frozen foods in their original packaging because it is usually airtight. Overwrap with an approved freezer wrap. Good freezer management is imperative to using what you've purchased in a timely fashion.

    Store canned goods and pantry items in a cool, clean, dry place. Store foods off the floor and away from cleaning supplies.

    Label leftovers with date of cooking and store where you can see them. Use within three days. Store in airtight containers that are labeled food safe. Don't use ceramic or metal dishes or cans to store food.

    If in doubt, throw it out.




    Proper hand-washing cannot be overemphasized!

    Wash all fruits and vegetables in cool, running water. Soap leaves a residue and may actually penetrate blemishes on the skin. Special fruit and vegetable rinses are not necessary.

    Do NOT rinse meat and poultry before cooking.  Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils and surfaces. 

    Keep juices from raw meat, poultry or seafood from coming in contact with other foods. Cross contamination can occur through contact with contaminated utensils, equipment, human hands and other foods.

    Marinate foods in the refrigerator. If marinades have been in contact with raw food, do not use them with the cooked food.

    Discard eggs used for Easter egg hunts. It's too easy to confuse hunted eggs with those that have been safely kept refrigerated. Inadvertently, the hunted eggs may be allowed to remain at room temperature for more than two hours, making them dangerous to eat.

    Avoid eating raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs or foods containing these foods.

    Use a separate tasting spoon when stirring food. Never put that spoon back into the food you're tasting.

    Thaw food in the refrigerator. Or thaw in cold water that is changed every 30 minutes until the product is thawed. Keep the product in an airtight container. Or thaw in the microwave, but cook the product immediately.

    When cooking in the microwave, use microwave-safe containers, cut pieces the same size, rotate food for even cooking, and follow the directions on packages and those that come with your microwave.

    When grilling outdoors, cook food thoroughly without charring, clean the grill between each use, and use a clean plate and utensils to serve the cooked food. Do not use the same plate that contained the raw food.

    When using a slow cooker, the internal temperature of food should reach 160 degrees F.

    Use a thermometer. Cook foods to the proper degree of doneness. The listing below shows proper cooking temperatures and are consistent with consumer guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

    Fresh Beef, Veal and Lamb - Ground Products
    Patties, meat loaf, meatballs, etc. ...............................160 degrees F
    Turkey, Chicken - Ground Products.............................165 degrees F

    Fresh Beef, Veal and Lamb - Roasts, Steaks and Chops
    Medium rare............................................................145 degrees F
    Medium...................................................................160 degrees F
    Well done................................................................170 degrees F

    Fresh Pork (all cuts including ground)
    Medium...................................................................145 degrees F
    Well done................................................................160 degrees F
    Ham
    Fresh (raw)..............................................................145 degrees F
    Fully cooked (to reheat)...........................................140 degrees F

    Poultry
    Ground chicken & turkey.........................................165 degrees F
    Whole chicken & turkey
    Medium, unstuffed...................................................170 degrees F
    Well done................................................................180 degrees F
    Whole bird with stuffing............................................180 degrees F
    Stuffing should reach................................................165 degrees F
    Poultry breasts & roasts...........................................170 degrees F
    Thighs, wing (juices run clear)...................................170 degrees F

    Fish.........................................................................145 degrees F

    Internet Activity: Visit the Food Safety and Inspection Service's home page. Click on A-Z in the left-hand column.  Click F for Food Safety and scroll down the page to find Food Safety and Security: What Consumers Need to Know.




    Always wash hands with soap and water before serving food.

    Always use clean plates and utensils. Avoid using your fingers to pick up food. Use a clean plate for cooked foods. Never use the same plate that contained the raw food before cooking.

    Keep hot foods hot (above 140 degrees F) and cold foods cold (below 40 degrees F).

    Never leave foods, raw or cooked, at room temperature longer than two hours. If temperatures are above 90 degrees F, decrease this time to one hour.




    Always wash hands with soap and water before handling leftovers.

    Discard any food left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature was above 90 degrees F).

    Always use clean containers and utensils.

    Quickly cool leftovers by dividing them into small amounts and storing them in the refrigerator in shallow containers. Refrigerate or freeze within two hours after cooking.

    Reheat all leftovers to 165 degrees F or until hot and steamy. Soups, sauces and gravies should be brought to a rolling boil.

    If in doubt, throw it out!!!




    In conclusion, The Partnership for Food Safety Education has come up with these four slogans to Fight BAC! in their efforts to reduce the risk of foodborne illness:

    Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often.

    Separate: Don't cross-contaminate.

    Cook: Cook to proper temperatures.

    Chill: Refrigerate promptly.



    Now that you have the tools, you can help educate others about preventing pathogens in our food. Food safety education gives us the control to protect ourselves from foodborne illnesses. To stay abreast of food safety research, regulations and education issues, check out these online resources

    FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

    USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service

    The Food Safety Consortium

    International HACCP Alliance


    Last Updated: 2/6/2012 12:45:21 PM
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