Every day, you handle, cook, and prepare food for you and your family. The steps you take can mean the difference between a good day and a bad case of foodborne illness, also known as "food poisoning." Take a few seconds to learn about food safety whether you're cooking at home, dining out, or eating ready-made meals on the go.
How do You Prevent Food Poisoning?
Did you know that 1 in 6 Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year alone? Food poisoning not only sends 128,000 Americans to the hospital each year -- it can also have long-term health consequences. Following these 4 simple steps (clean, separate, cook, and chill) can help keep your family safe from food poisoning at home.
Clean: Wash Hands, Utensils, and Surfaces Often
Illness-causing germs can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your food, hands, utensils, and cutting boards.
Food Safety Tip Sheets
Following 4 key steps to food safety can help lower your chances of getting sick! Check out each tip to learn important steps to clean, separate, cook, and chill your food safely.
Step 1: Clean
- Lather Up - Before eating, wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. Count to 20 slowly or sing the "Happy Birthday" song to yourself twice.
- Eat Clean - Rinse fruits and veggies under running water. Slicing or dicing? Scrub them anyway. Germs can jump from rinds to the insides during cutting and peeling.
- Create a Safe Cooking Space - Wash countertops, cooking surfaces, and insides of the refrigerator, freezer, and microwave frequently with hot, soapy water.
- Clean it Before You Crack it Open - Wash food packaging, especially the lids of cans and jars, before opening.
- Rules for Tools - Wash cutting boards, knives, and other cooking utensils in hot, soapy water or the dishwasher after each use.
Step 2: Separate
- No Touching - Raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and flour should never come into contact with produce or any food that is ready-to-eat. Keep them separate while shopping, storing, and cooking.
- Put a Lid on It - Place raw meats in sealed containers or plastic wrap on lower shelves of the fridge or freezer.
- Serve It Safely - When grilling, barbecuing, or cooking meat, use different plates for raw and cooked meat.
- No Yolking Around - Storing eggs in the fridge door can expose them to uneven temperatures. Keep them on lower shelves instead, in their original carton.
Step 3: Cook
- Heat It Before You Eat It - Use a food thermometer to check that your food has reached a safe temperature: 145 degrees Fahrenheit for seafood and 145 degrees Fahrenheit with a 3-minute rest time for beef, pork, and ham. 160 degrees Fahrenheit for ground meat, meat mixtures, and egg dishes. 165 degrees Fahrenheit for poultry, microwaved foods and reheated leftovers.
- Turn the Tables - When microwaving, make sure to rotate food to allow for even heating. Always follow directions for cooking and standing time.
- Dish It Out - When eating at restaurants, avoid foods that contain raw or undercooked egg, meat, poultry, or seafood. Ask the server if you aren't sure.
Step 4: Chill
- Shop, and Don't Stop - At the grocery store, pick up perishable foods last and take them straight home.
- Keep Your Cool - Chill groceries, leftovers and food delivery items within 2 hours, or 1 hour if exposed to temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Use an appliance thermometer to set your fridge to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and your freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below.