Food Safety News | Winter 2016

Keep Foodborne Illness Away: Five Food Safety Resolutions That Make a BIG Difference

A brand new year is one of the best times to kick old habits to the curb and start new ones that help you be your healthiest, happiest self.

When it comes to food safety, starting (or recommitting to) some important daily habits can dramatically reduce your risk of suffering from food poisoning. So, we hope your new year’s resolution list has food safety at the very top.

If it doesn’t yet, now is a fantastic time to commit to stepping up your food safety game for the new year!

And we’ve got you covered with some easy resolutions that go a long way in preventing foodborne illness and the devastating health consequences that often come with it. Starting today, we urge you to make an unwavering commitment to follow these five food safety practices every day:

RESOLUTION #1: I WILL USE PROPER HAND WASHING.

This is the most important resolution we want you to make because dirty hands are the fastest way to spread germs and cause sickness.

As you come in contact with any surface, germs are lurking. If you pick them up on your hands, BOOM! You’re at risk for contracting foodborne illnesses from pathogens like norovirus and listeria.

Now, just when is it *vital* for you to give your hands a good washing?

Mainly after these activities:

  • Before preparing or eating food
  • After going to the bathroom
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has gone to the bathroom
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • After working or playing outdoors
  • After handling uncooked foods, particularly raw meat, poultry, or fish
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After handling an animal, animal food, or animal waste (including pets)
  • After handling garbage
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After handling items contaminated by flood water or sewage
  • After touching high-contact surfaces such as phones, keyboards, door knobs, exercise equipment, hand rails, etc.

Here’s a simple, step-by-step hand washing procedure we recommend:

STEP 1: WET your hands with clean, running water (preferably warm).

STEP 2: SOAP up your hands.

STEP 3: RUB your hands vigorously for 20 seconds (that’s two times through the “Happy Birthday to You” song). Be sure to wash all surfaces including:

  • Palms and fingers
  • Back of hands
  • Wrists
  • Between fingers and thumbs
  • Under/around fingernails

STEP 4: RINSE thoroughly, rubbing all surfaces to remove all soap.

STEP 5: DRY your hands rubbing vigorously with paper towel or clean cloth towel.

RESOLUTION #2: I WILL PREVENT CROSS-CONTAMINATION.

Another way bacteria can spread easily is through cross-contamination.

You can take some key steps in the kitchen and at the grocery store to avoid this potentially deadly occurrence:

When you’re shopping:

  • Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods in your cart.
  • Put those foods in separate plastic bags at checkout to prevent their juices from getting on to other foods. Raw juices often contain harmful bacteria.

When you’re preparing food:

  • Wash hands and surfaces often.
  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with warm, soapy water after preparing each food item.
  • Replace excessively worn cutting boards with deep, hard-to-clean grooves.

When you’re marinating food:

  • Always marinate food in the fridge, not on the counter.
  • Sauce used to marinate raw meat, poultry, or seafood should not be used on cooked foods (unless it’s boiled just before using).

When you’re serving food:

  • Always use a clean plate.
  • Never put cooked food on the same plate/cutting board that previously held raw food.

When you’re refrigerating food:

  • Store raw and prepared foods in separate containers to avoid contact.
  • Put raw meat, poultry, and seafood in containers or tightly-sealed plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping on to other foods.
  • Store eggs in their original carton and refrigerate as soon as possible.

RESOLUTION #3: I WILL USE A FOOD THERMOMETER.

Before enjoying your cooked food, be sure it’s been cooked to a safe temperature by using a food thermometer. This is the only way to make sure your meat, poultry, fish, and egg dishes are done and ready to consume.

Food thermometers come in many different types and styles. No matter the type you choose, be sure to read the instructions carefully to ensure you’re using it correctly.

Click here for an in-depth article on food thermometers.

Click here for a handy list of safe internal temperatures for various foods. 

RESOLUTION #4: I WILL WASH ALL PRODUCE.

Harmful bacteria may be in the soil or water where produce grows and come in contact with fruits and vegetables you pick up at your grocery store. Contamination may also occur after it’s harvested during preparation or storage. Before you eat, cut, or cook your veggies and fruits, wash them thoroughly under running water. For firm produce like melons and cucumbers, scrub with a clean produce brush. Note that washing with soap or commercial produce washes isn’t recommended. Dry your fruits and veggies with a clean cloth or paper towel to reduce even more bacteria that may be lurking.

RESOLUTION #5: I WILL SAFELY STORE LEFTOVERS.

Perishable foods like meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products shouldn’t be left at room temperature for more than two hours. After serving perishables, be sure to refrigerate or freeze your leftovers within two hours or throw them out. In hot weather of 90°F or above, refrigerate or toss leftovers within one hour of serving.

After four days in your fridge, freeze or throw away your leftovers.

Click here for our handy flyer on safely storing leftovers. 

Got Questions?

Email us at info@stopfoodborneillness.org or call us at 773-269-6555 We’re always here to help!

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