Focus On Food Safety
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 48 million Americans fall sick each year from foodborne illnesses, many of which can be avoided. The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to prevent you and your loved ones from coming into contact with germs that cause food poisoning. The CDC breaks its plan for preventing foodborne illnesses into four categories: clean, separate, cook and chill.
Keeping a clean workspace can prevent germs from spreading throughout the kitchen. Clean your countertops and sink after meal preparation with a cleaning spray, and wash knives, cutting boards and other utensils thoroughly with hot, soapy water. Be sure to rinse fruits and vegetables under running water before eating. This includes fruits or vegetables you intend to peel, as rinsing them will reduce the amount of bacteria on the produce. And, of course, wash your hands prior to cooking and before you sit down to eat.
When purchasing raw meat, poultry, fish and eggs, keep them apart from other food items, both in the grocery cart and in your refrigerator at home. Use plastic bags offered at grocery stores to prevent juices from contaminating ready-to-eat groceries. While cooking, use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils when dealing with raw items.
Get to know your food thermometer—it’s the only reliable way to determine if the food you are cooking has reached a safe internal temperature. For a complete list of safe internal food temperatures for meats, poultry, seafood, leftovers and more, visit www.foodsafety.gov. When thawing foods, do so in the refrigerator, in the microwave or by cold water thawing.
After a trip to the grocery store, refrigerate perishable food within two hours of purchasing (or within one hour if the outdoor temperature is more than 90˚ Fahrenheit). Keep your refrigerator set at or below 40˚ Fahrenheit and your freezer at 0˚ Fahrenheit. Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate within two hours after cooking. Eat your leftovers within a few days and never keep any leftover food for more than one week.