Be Food Safe!

By Charlotte County Health Department –

healty eating naplesDid you know that one in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year?  Food handling safety risks at home are more common than most people think. Following four simple steps of Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill can help keep your family safe from food poisoning at home.

Four Steps to Keep Your Family Safe
Clean – Wash Hands and Surfaces Often

  • Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. This is the best way to reduce the spread of germs and prevent food poisoning.
  • Run cutting boards and utensils through the dishwasher or wash them in hot soapy water after each use.
  • Keep countertops clean by washing with hot soapy water after preparing food.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water just before eating, cutting, or cooking.

Separate – Raw Meats from Other Foods

  • Keep raw meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood and their juices away from ready-to-eat food.
  • Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Use another cutting board for salads and ready-to-eat food.
  • Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from produce in your shopping cart.
  • Store raw meat, poultry, and seafood in a container or on a plate so juices can’t drip on other foods.
  • Place cooked food on a clean plate—never on a plate that was used for raw food.

Cook To the Right Temperature

  • Use a food thermometer to make sure foods are cooked safely. The food thermometer should be placed in the thickest part of the food, away from bone, fat, or gristle.
  • Stir, rotate the dish, and cover food when microwaving to prevent cold spots where bacteria can survive.
  • Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating.

Chill Food Promptly

  • Cool the fridge to 40°F or below, and the freezer to 0°F or below.
  • Use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature. Bacteria spread fastest at temperatures above 40°F and below 140°F.
  • Thaw meat, poultry, and seafood in the fridge, not on the counter, and don’t overstuff the fridge.
  • Divide large pots of food, like soup or stew, into shallow containers. Cut cooked meat or poultry into smaller portions or slices. Place in shallow containers, cover, and refrigerate. Meat and poultry may be refrozen after cooking.

Keep Food Out of the Danger Zone
Foodborne bacteria grow rapidly when food is left at room temperature. Temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit are within the “Danger Zone” where bacteria grow rapidly.

Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures
As measured with a food thermometer (even use a thermometer when cooking on the grill outside).

Beef, Pork, Veal & Lamb. . . . 145°F with a 3-minute “rest time” after removal from the heat source.
Ground Meats. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160°F
Poultry. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165°F
Eggs & Egg Dishes . . . . . . . . .. . . . . 160°F

Cook eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm.
Scrambled eggs should not be runny.
Leftovers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165°F
Fin Fish. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145°F

Visit to ask a food safety question. If you prefer to call try these two references: USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline: 1-888-674-6854 and FDA SAFE FOOD Information Line: 1-888-723-3366.

This article is brought to you by the Charlotte County Health Department, WIC and Nutrition Department. Our vision is to have our community enjoy nutritious food, by helping you to make good nutrition fun! For more information, please visit our website or call 941-624-7200.

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