preventing food poisoning

Food safety tips for preventing food poisoning

1 in 6 Americans will suffer from food poisoning this year, sending 128,000 of us to the hospital and causing 3,000 deaths.

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The good news is that -- by keeping the following four principles in mind -- food borne illness is largely preventable:

1. Clean

  • Wash hands and all equipment, counters, cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot, soapy water.
  • Sanitize all kitchen surfaces after cleaning. Make sanitizing solution by mixing 1 tablespoon of unscented chlorine bleach to 1 gallon warm (not hot) water. Store in a spray bottle. Allow surfaces to air-dry or wipe with with a clean paper towel.

2. Separate

  • Keep meat separate from other foods when shopping.
  • Use a separate cutting board for meats and vegetables. If you have only one cutting board, clean well with soapy water, then sanitize after using the board with meat.
  • Always wash hands, cutting boards, and all utensils after coming in contact with raw meat, poultry or fish.

3. Cook

  • Cook meats, poultry, eggs, fish and shellfish thoroughly.
  • Reheat leftovers until steaming hot (165°F).
  • Bring sauces, soups and gravies to a boil when reheating.

4. Chill

  • Refrigerate foods quickly. Do not leave food out more than one hour if the temperature outside is 90°F or hotter.
  • Thaw meats on the bottom shelf on a plate in the refrigerator. Never thaw meats on the counter.
  • Thawing food in the microwave is acceptable. Plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwave defrosting.

How to Use a Food Thermometer

Using the color of meat as a guide to doneness is not effective. Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure meats are the correct temperature. Digital instant-read thermometers are the most accurate and can be found in grocery stores or discount stores.

  1. Use a digital instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature toward the end of the cooking time, but before the food is expected to be done.
  2. The food thermometer should be placed in the thickest part of the food and should not be touching bone, fat or gristle.
  3. Compare your thermometer reading to the USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures to determine if your food has reached a safe temperature.
  4. Make sure to clean your food thermometer with soapy water before and after each use. There are many types of food thermometers. Follow the instructions for your food thermometer.

USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures

  • Steaks and Roasts: 145°F -- higher for medium well or well done
  • Ground Beef: 160°F
  • meat thermometer
  • Chicken parts: 165°F
  • Whole poultry: 165°F
  • Pork: 145°F
  • Fish: 145°F
  • Egg dishes: 160°F

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