Did you know that one in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year alone?
This problem is more serious than many people realize. Food poisoning not only sends more than 100,000 Americans to the hospital each year – it can also have long-term health consequences.
Following four simple steps can help keep you and your family safe from food poisoning at home.
Four Simple Steps to Food Safety
CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often
Illness-causing bacteria can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils and cutting boards. Unless you wash your hands, utensils and surfaces the right way, you could spread bacteria to your food and your family.
- Wash hands the right way—for 20 seconds with soap and running water. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Wash surfaces and utensils after each use. Rinsing utensils, countertops and cutting boards with water won’t do enough to stop bacteria from spreading. Clean utensils and small cutting boards with hot, soapy water. Clean surfaces and cutting boards with a bleach solution.
- Wash fruits and veggies—but not meat, poultry, or eggs. Even if you plan to peel fruits and veggies, it’s important to wash them first because bacteria can spread from the outside to the inside as you cut or peel them.
SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate
Even after you’ve cleaned your hands and surfaces thoroughly, raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs can still spread illness-causing bacteria to ready-to-eat foods—unless you keep them separate.
COOK: Cook to the right temperature
One of the basics of food safety is cooking food to its proper temperature. Foods are properly cooked when they are heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness.
While many people think they can tell when food is “done” simply by checking its color and texture, there’s no way to be sure it’s safe without following a few important but simple steps.
- Use a food thermometer. Make sure food reaches its safe minimum cooking temperature (pdf). Internal temperatures should be:
- 145°F for beef, pork, veal and lamb (roast, steak and chops). Allow the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating.
- 160°F for ground meats
- 165°F for all poultry
- 145°F for fin fish
- Eggs should be cooked until both the yolk and white are firm, egg dishes should be 160°F
- During meal times, while food is being served and eaten, keep it hot (at 140˚F or above). After meals are over, refrigerate leftover food quickly.
- Microwave food thoroughly (to 165˚F).
CHILL: Refrigerate promptly
Illness-causing bacteria can grow in many foods within two hours unless you refrigerate them. During the summer heat, cut that time down to one hour.