General Food Safety Guidelines
While there are specific guidelines for preventing each of the major food-borne illnesses, there are some guidelines that should be followed at all times:
- Don't buy bent or dented cans.
- Don't buy cans that bulge out at the top or bottom.
- Don't buy cracked, leaky or broken jars.
- Check expiration dates on packaged foods, and never buy outdated food.
- Don't buy cracked eggs.
- Check the temperature of your freezer and refrigerator. Freezer temperature should be below freezing (0 degrees F or -18 degrees C), and refrigerator temperature should be 40 degrees F (4 degrees C) or less.
- Freeze or refrigerate perishables immediately.
- Store eggs in the body of the refrigerator in their original carton, not on the door which is warmer.
- Wrap raw meat and poultry so they can't leak juices onto other foods.
- Store leftovers in tight containers. Shallow dishes are best because they allow for quick and even cooling.
- Check stored food for signs of spoilage, and throw away any food that looks or smells "funny."
- Don't over-pack refrigerator or freezer. Air needs to circulate around the stored food.
- Keep seafood in the refrigerator or freezer until needed.
- Refrigerate hot foods within two hours after cooking. If foods stand out for longer than two hours, throw them away.
- Use leftovers within three to five days. After that, throw them away.
- Use uncooked beef and poultry within one to two days after thawing.
- Use one cutting board for raw meat and poultry, and a separate cutting board for hot, cooked meat and vegetables.
- Wash hands and cooking utensils thoroughly in soap and hot water after touching raw meat or poultry, and before handling any other food.
- Don't put cooked meats or poultry on a plate that held raw meat or poultry unless the plate has been thoroughly cleaned.
- Wash kitchen counters and cutting boards thoroughly with soap after preparing raw meat or poultry.
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold
- Don't let frozen foods, including meat and poultry, defrost on the kitchen counter at room temperature. Let them defrost slowly in the refrigerator, or use the microwave.
- Cook all meats thoroughly. Beef should be brown or gray in the middle, not pink or rare. Chicken should have no hint of pink and juices should run clear.
- Use a meat thermometer to assure proper temperature: Beef, lamb and pork should be cooked to 160 degrees F (71 degrees C); whole poultry and thighs to 180 degrees F (82 degrees C); chicken breasts to 170 degrees F (77 degrees C).
- Cook fish until opaque and flaky.
- Cook reheated foods to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Food should be steaming.
- Cook soups, sauces and gravies to boiling when reheating.
- If microwaving food, make sure there are no cold spots.
- Serve hot foods as quickly as possible.
More food safety
- Cook eggs until the yolk is hardened and the white is solid.
- Don't make recipes that leave eggs uncooked.
- Follow proper guidelines if canning at home.
- Throw away canned foods that bulge.
- Throw away foods that have out-lived their expiration date.
- Don't taste food you are preparing, such as cookie dough, if it contains raw eggs.
- Avoid raw or unpasteurized milk and milk products.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
- Encourage family members to wash hands thoroughly before eating or handling food.