When preparing food for yourself or your family, it’s important to practice safe food handling to prevent foodborne illnesses. The Partnership for Food Safety Education is spreading the word about the dangers of bacteria, an invisible enemy that you cannot smell or feel. Bacteria can invade areas and surfaces in kitchens and on foods. There are easy steps for you to take to keep your family away from harmful bacteria.
What’s the best way to clean food?
• Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
• Wash all fruits and vegetables. Use a scrub brush. If you can’t get the skin clean, peel it off. This can help remove dirt and chemicals, like pesticides. A pesticide is a chemical used to keep bugs and other pests away from crops. Wash all fruits and vegetables, even if the package says it’s already been washed. Dry everything with a paper towel or clean cloth.
• Cut away damaged sections of fruits and vegetables.
• Wash utensils and cutting boards with hot soapy water after each use. Don’t use cutting boards made of wood. They can hold more germs than other kinds of cutting boards.
• After preparing food, clean countertops with hot soapy water.
What’s the best way to separate food?
• Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry and seafood. Use a different board for fruits and vegetables.
• When you’re shopping, keep raw meat, poultry and seafood and their juices separate from other foods.
• Store raw meat, poultry and seafood in containers so that their juices don’t get on other foods.
What’s the best way to cook food?
• Use a food thermometer. It can help you cook food—especially meat—to a safe temperature. You may not be able to tell if a food is fully cooked by how it looks, so use these temperature guidelines here.
• When using the microwave, cover the food. Stop cooking to stir the food and rotate the dish to ensure the food’s warm all the way through.
• When reheating sauces, soups and gravies, bring them to a rolling boil.
What’s the best way to chill food?
• Keep the refrigerator at 40 F or below and the freezer at 0 F or below. If you don’t think your temperature is correct, use an appliance thermometer to check it. You can buy this kind of thermometer at hardware or home-supply stores.
• Refrigerate all fruits and vegetables that have been cut or peeled.
• Refrigerate all leftovers within 2 hours after eating. Use shallow containers so that the food cools quickly. When you’re ready to use the leftovers, eat them within 2 hours of taking them out of the refrigerator.
• Thaw meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator, not on the counter or in the sink.
• Don’t crowd the refrigerator. This may make it hard to keep food cool and safe.
If you have questions, feel free to email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.
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