Food Safety: Top 10 Tips
Food is a big part of our lives and our celebrations. Yet every year too many people get sick from mishandled or improperly cooked food. Stay healthy and enjoy yourself by following these simple food safety tips.
- Wash your hands. Always wash your hands with soap and water before and after preparing food, after touching raw meat, raw eggs, or unwashed vegetables, and before eating or drinking.
- Cook food thoroughly. Meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can carry germs that cause food poisoning. Use a food thermometer to ensure these foods have been cooked to the proper temperature. Cook fish, beef, and pork to 145 degrees F; ground meat to 155 degrees F; and chicken, turkey, stuffed meats, and dressing to 165 degrees F. It’s best to cook stuffing outside the bird.
- Thaw frozen foods properly. Avoid thawing foods on your counter. Meat must be thawed at a safe temperature to prevent harmful germs from growing rapidly. Thaw turkey in the refrigerator, in a sink of cold water that is changed every 30 minutes, or in the microwave.
- Do not cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat away from other foods. Use separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables. Wash your cutting boards, knives, utensils, and counters before and after use. Use a clean spoon for each taste test.
- Wash vs. Do Not Wash. Thoroughly wash all produce to reduce contamination. Do NOT rinse raw meats or poultry before cooking as this can spread bacteria.
- Keep Hot Foods Hot & Cold Foods Cold. Bacteria can grow rapidly at room temperature. After food is cooked, keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Keep food warm with hot plates or Crock-Pots. Keep food cold with ice or coolers.
- Do not eat dough or batter. Dough and batter made with flour or eggs can contain harmful germs such as E. coli and Salmonella. Do not taste or eat unpasteurized dough or batter of any kind, including those for cookies, cakes, pies, biscuits, pancakes, tortillas, or pizza.
- Use pasteurized eggs for dishes containing raw eggs. Salmonella and other harmful germs can live on both the outside and inside of normal-looking eggs. Many favorite dishes contain raw eggs, including eggnog, tiramisu, hollandaise sauce, and Caesar dressing. Always use pasteurized eggs when making these and other foods made with raw eggs.
- Take proper care of leftovers. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of service. Break leftovers down into smaller portions for easier storage and to help with cooling. Eat leftovers within four days. Reheat cooked foods to 165 degrees F before serving.
- Keep foods separated. Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods at the grocery and in the refrigerator. Prevent juices from meat, poultry, and seafood from dripping or leaking onto other foods by keeping them in containers or sealed plastic bags. Store eggs in their original carton in the main compartment of the refrigerator.
For more information about food safety, visit FoodSafety.gov.
If you think you have food poisoning or a food-related illness, please contact a primary care provider at Weeks Medical Center. Call 603-788-5905 for an appointment.
by Jennifer Nobles, Dietician