Safeguard your family from unwanted foodborne illnesses

When preparing food at home, follow these food safety practices and include family in the conversation.

Wash your hands well after working with hamburger before putting the lettuce, tomatoes and onion on your bun to prevent cross-contamination.
Wash your hands well after working with hamburger before putting the lettuce, tomatoes and onion on your bun to prevent cross-contamination.

It is recommended that food contact surfaces, like counter tops and utensils are cleaned and sanitized for food preparartion.  Foods should be handled correctly and kept out of the temperature danger zone. When eating and preparing food at home we should follow these food safety practices.

The United States Department of Agriculture and Michigan State University Extension suggests some basic best practices to ensure you and your family keep food safety in mind:

Wash your hands

We hear this often and we need to do it often. Washing hands with warm water and soap gets rid of the germs on your hands that can get into food and make people sick.  Remember to wash your hands before touching utensils (knives, cutting boards, pots and pans) you use to make your food, before you touch food that will not be cooked (like lettuce, salad, fruit, etc.) and also after going to the bathroom, working with raw meat, fish or poultry, taking out the garbage, sneezing, coughing or smoking.

Keep foods safe from cross-contamination
Cool and heat foods properly

One of the biggest cause of foodborne illness is failing to cool food properly as bacteria can grow quickly and/or toxins can form. When reheating leftovers, be sure they reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit as measured with a food thermometer. Reheat sauces, soups and gravies by bringing them to a rolling boil. Here are tips to check your process:

  • If food has been sitting at room temperature (in the "danger zone") for up to two hours, refrigerate it or reheat it.
  • After food has been sitting out for two to four hours, throw it out. Potentially hazardous foods (like cut melons, meats, dairy, fish, etc.) should never be eaten if they have been sitting out for more than 2 hours. If the outside temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, food should not be left out more than one hour.
  • Cool foods safely by cutting large pieces of meat or poultry into pieces four inches or less and pouring thick foods like soups and sauces into shallow pans no more than two inches deep to cool. The shallow pans help them to cool quickly.

Keeping these tips in mind can help you and your family keep food safe and keep your family protected from foodborne illnesses.

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