Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get on hands, cutting boards, knives and countertops. Frequent cleaning can keep that from happening.
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
- Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.
- Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
- Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten.
- Rub firm-skin fruits and vegetables under running tap water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with tap water.
Cross-contamination is how bacteria spreads. Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
- Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separte one for raw meat, poultry and seafood.
- Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags and in your refrigerator.
- Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.
Even for experienced cooks, the improper heating and preparation of food means bacteria can survive.
- Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of cooked foods, Make sure that meat, poultry, egg dishes, casseroles and other foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature. (See temperature chart)
- Cook ground meat or ground poultry until it reaches a safe internal temperature. Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness.
- Cook eggs until the yolk and the white are firm. Only use recipes in which eggs are cooked or heated thoroughly.
- Bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil when reheating.
Bacteria spreads fastest at temperatures between 40F and 140F, so chilling food properly is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
- Chill leftovers and takeout foods within 2 hours. Keep the refrigerator at 40F or below and use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature.
- Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs and other perishables as soon as you get them home from the store.
- Never defrost food at room temperature. Food must be kept at a safe temperature during thawing. There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water (changing out water every 30 minutes), and in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.