|Safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage are essential to
avoiding food borne illness. You can't see, smell, or taste bacteria which
may be on any food. Follow these food safety guidelines from the USDA,
the FDA, and the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association to keep
most known pathogens away (though not, for example, the agent that causes
Mad Cow Disease).
Safe Storage of Foods
Safe Food Preparation
cold food last; get it home fast.
Keep it safe; refrigerate.
- Never choose packages
which are torn or leaking.
- Don't buy foods past
"sell-by" or expiration dates.
- Put raw meat and
poultry into a plastic bag so meat juices won't cross-contaminate
cooked foods or those eaten raw, such as vegetables or fruit.
- Place refrigerated
or frozen items in the shopping cart last, right before heading for
the checkout counter.
- When loading the
car, keep perishable items inside the air-conditioned car -- not in
- Drive immediately
home from the grocery. If you live farther away than 30 minutes, bring
a cooler with ice from home; place perishables in it.
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- Unload perishable
foods from the car first and immediately refrigerate them.
- Place securely wrapped
packages of raw meat, poultry, or fish in the meat drawer or coldest
section of your refrigerator.
- Check the temperature
of your unit with an appliance thermometer. To slow bacterial growth,
the refrigerator should be at 40° F; the freezer, 0° F.
- Cook or freeze fresh
poultry, fish, ground meats, and variety meats within 2 days; other
beef, veal, lamb or pork, within 3 to 5 days.
Hands should be washed thoroughly after using the bathroom
or changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food.
Wash hands before and after handling raw meat and poultry.
Sanitize cutting boards often in a solution of 1 teaspoon
chlorine bleach in 1 quart of water. Wash kitchen towels and cloths
often in hot water in washing machine.
Don't cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat, poultry, fish,
and their juices away from other food. After cutting raw meats, wash
hands, cutting board, knife, and counter tops with hot, soapy water.
Marinate meat and poultry in a covered dish in the
Always wash fresh fruits and vegetables under cool
running tap water before eating. This removes any lingering dirt while
also removing or reducing any bacteria or other substances.
Certain hearty vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots.
can be scrubbed with a produce brush if consumers plan to eat the fiber
and nutrient-rich skin.
When preparing fruits and vegetables, cut away bruised
or damaged areas.
|Thaw Food Safely
|Refrigerator: Allow slow,
safe thawing. Make sure thawing juices do not drip on other foods.
Cold Water: For faster thawing, place food
in a leak-proof plastic bag and submerge in cold tap water.
Microwave: Cook meat and poultry immediately
after microwave thawing.
|Cook ground meats to 160° F; ground poultry to 165° F. Beef, veal
and lamb steaks, roasts, and chops may be cooked to 145° F; all cuts of
fresh pork, 160° F. Whole poultry should reach 180° F in the thigh; breasts,
|Serving Food Safely
||Keep hot food hot! Cold food cold!
it out over 2 hours. (1 hour in temperature above 90 °F) Bacteria that
cause food borne illness grow rapidly at room temperature.
poultry defrosted in the refrigerator may be re-frozen before OR after
cooking. If thawed by other methods, cook before re-freezing.
When serving food at a buffet, keep hot food over a
heat source and keep cold food on ice. Keep platters of food refrigerated
until time to serve or heat them.
Carry perishable picnic food in a cooler with a cold
pack or ice. Set the cooler in the shade and open the lid as little
|Handling Leftovers Safely
Divide foods into shallow containers for rapid cooling.
Put food directly in the refrigerator or freezer.
Cut turkey off the bone and refrigerate. Slice breast
meat; legs and wings may be left whole.
Use cooked leftovers within 4 days.
Cut or cooked produce items. such as baked potatoes
or vegetable casseroles, should never be left out or held at room temperature
for an extended time period.