Photo: Tay Jnr / Getty Images
By Annie Bell Muzaurieta
It's National Food Safety Education Month, and the USDA wants to remind you that you can prevent foodborne illness at home. The mantra? Clean, separate, cook, chill.
- Wash your hands and surfaces often.
- Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
- Rinse fruits and vegetables with running tap water before you eat them.
- Wash your hands before you make or eat a snack or meal, after playing with pets and after using the bathroom.
- Always use clean knives, forks, spoons and plates.
- Always use a clean plate. Cooked foods should not be placed on the same plate that held raw meat, poultry or fish.
- Only put food on clean surfaces. Never put your sandwiches or snacks on a dirty table or counter.
- Put backpacks and books on the floor. Don't put them on the kitchen table or counters. (Editor's Note: This one was aimed children.)
- Keep raw meat and poultry apart from foods that won't be cooked.
- Wash hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds.
- Always wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot, soapy water after they come in contact with raw meat, poultry, eggs and seafood.
- Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry and seafood.
- Use a food thermometer you can't tell food is cooked safely by how it looks.
- Always cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature: beef, lamb, and veal steaks, roasts and chops to 145 F; chicken and turkey whole, pieces or ground to 165 F; ground beef, including hamburgers, to 160 F; cook leftovers to 165 F.
- Always place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food, away from bone and fat to check the temperature.
- When cooking in a microwave oven, stir, cover, and rotate food for even cooking. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature in the food in several places.
- Let food sit for a few minutes after cooking it in the microwave.
- Always cook eggs before eating them. When cooked, eggs should be firm, not runny.
- Chill leftovers and takeout foods within 2 hours and keep the fridge at 40 F or below.
- Some foods that need to stay cold include: sandwiches or salads made with meat and poultry; tuna and egg salad; milk, cheese, and yogurt; peeled or cut fruits and vegetables.
- Use an insulated lunch box or bag to keep food cold at school.
- Keep your lunch in the coolest place possible. Never leave it in direct sun.
- Add a frozen gel pack or frozen juice box, or use a thermos to keep food cold.