Meals on Wheels and food safety

Follow this food safety checklist and minimize the risk of foodborne illness.

Providing safe nutritious meals is the core of the Meals on Wheels program. To successfully achieve this, proper food handling is taken with every meal, from the moment it is made until it reaches your doorstep. This ensures the food is safe and minimizes the risk of harmful bacteria developing.

Bacteria that cause foodborne illness are usually killed off through the cooking process but it is equally important that participants who receive meals continue proper food handling after the meals are delivered. Michigan State University Extension recommends you follow the do’s and don’ts food safety checklist below:

Food Safety Checklist

  • Keep food out of the Temperature Danger Zone, between 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Do not leave meals on a stovetop, space heater, kitchen counter or in an oven with the pilot light on.
  • If you do not eat your meal right away refrigerate or freeze it immediately to keep it safe.
  • Reheat meals to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F, or for approximately 30 minutes in a 350 degrees F oven, or three minutes on “high” in a microwave oven (rotating dish so food heats evenly).
  • Let your food sit 2-3 minutes after heating and before you eat it to prevent burns.
  • Perishable food, such as meat, salads, fruit and bread should be used within three days of delivery. If your meal does not have a date on it, add one before refrigerating, with the date the food must be thrown out.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water when handling food.
  • Keep all storage, cooking and eating areas clean. Wash cooking and eating utensils after every use.
  • Discard any food past the expiration date or food that has been sitting out in the temperature danger zone for two hours or longer.

The Meals on Wheels program is extremely conscious when it comes to practicing safe food handling techniques, as should the participants when storing and preparing delivered meals. Don’t risk your health by not practicing proper food handling techniques in your own kitchen. If you would like more information about food safety, contact your local MSU Extension office.

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