Food Safety

Not only what we choose to eat is important but keeping our food safe and avoiding foodborne illness is vitally important to our health. Restaurant professionals are trained in food safety but it is also important to handle it safely in the home. How many of you remember your mom or grandmother leaving the turkey on the counter to defrost overnight? Yikes!

Keep yourself and your family safe when serving foods at home with these simple steps to food safety:

1. Wash your hands

Cleanliness is one of the most important factors in preventing foodborne illness. Before handling any type of foods wash your hands! Use warm, soapy water for a minimum of 20 seconds. If you are not sure how long that is try singing the “Happy Birthday Song” three times. After handling any type of uncooked eggs or raw meat, poultry, or fish and their juices make sure to wash your hands!

2. Wipe Surfaces

Make sure all surfaces and kitchen tool are clean. Wipe and disinfect counter tops and kitchen tools after using them to prepare raw meat, poultry or seafood. Use paper towels to clean work surfaces. If using a kitchen towel, wash them often in extra hot water in the washing machine.

3. Change out your tools

Change out tongs, forks or other kitchen tools while cooking and turning raw foods. For example: when turning raw chicken in a skillet grab a new set, or thoroughly wash, tongs before removing the cooked chicken breast from the cooking surface.

Thoroughly wash fresh fruits and vegetables under fresh water and rub or gently scrub skins to remove pesticides or bacteria.

4. Separate foods

Always separate foods. Use separate cutting boards for raw meats, poultry, seafood, raw ready to serve salads and veggies and cooked ready to eat foods. 

Always keep raw meats, poultry and seafood away from other food items and do not let their juices touch each other. This starts at the store in your cart and continues all the way to storage. When storing foods make sure to place raw meats, poultry in a bowl, bag or plate on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator and avoid the juices dripping on other foods. Always keep raw foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods to lower the risk of cross-contamination.

5. Temperature matters

The temperature danger zone for foods is between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F. Leaving foods out of this range promotes growth of bacteria and can be very dangerous if consumed.

In order to kill harmful bacteria in foods you will need to cook them to proper temperatures. Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of cooked foods. Do not rely on color as an indicator for doneness. You can find a safe internal temperature cooking chart below:

Product Minimum Internal Temperature in Fahrenheit Rest Time
Beef 145⁰F Rest a minimum of 3 minutes
Pork 145⁰ F Rest a minimum of 3 minutes
Veal 145⁰ F Rest a minimum of 3 minutes
Ground Meats 160⁰ F N/A
Ham, fresh or smoked (uncooked) 145⁰ F Rest a minimum of 3 minutes
Fully Cooked Ham (to reheat) 140⁰ F for packaged in USDA inspected plants 165⁰ for all others N/A
All Poultry (includes breasts, whole bird, legs, thighs, and wings, ground poultry, and stuffing) 165⁰ F N/A
Eggs 160⁰ F N/A
Fish & Shellfish 145⁰ F N/A
Reheating Leftovers 165⁰ F N/A
Casseroles 165⁰ F N/A

6. Reheat

Bring soups, sauces and gravies to a boil when reheating.

7. Keep it hot

Keep food hot. If you are not going to serve right away hold the food at 140 degrees F or above.

8. Food Storage

Refrigerator temperature should set between 36 and 40 degrees F. Freezers should be set 30 degrees F or below. Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, seafood or other perishables as soon as possible when returning from the store. Consider transporting foods in a cooler to keep them at optimal temperature.

Do not let raw or cooked foods sit at room temperature for more than two hours (if it is above 90 degrees reduce that time to less than one hour). Be sure to store them in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as possible.

Always defrost foods in refrigerator overnight, in microwave or under running water. Never leave it on the kitchen counter as it needs to be kept at a safe temperature to avoid bacterial growth. Once thawed it should be cooked immediately.

When marinating foods they should be stored in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

9. Leftovers

Cool leftovers completely in shallow containers in the refrigerator before sealing with a lid or transferring to freezer safe containers.

10. Stay informed

Sometimes contamination is beyond our control and happens during the transportation, manufacturing and packing process from the grower, manufacturer or distributor. Stay informed and up to date and sign up to receive the latest recalls via email at: http://www.foodsafety.gov/recalls/


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