News from Stop Foodborne Illness | October 2017

Food Poisoning Dangers: Please Don’t Make These Six Deadly Food Safety Mistakes!

When it comes to keeping your food safe, sometimes a simple practice makes all the difference in preventing a painful—and potentially life threatening—foodborne illness.

Today we’re sharing SIX of the worst food safety mistakes you should avoid making at all costs. The good news is they’re easy to avoid! The bad news? We know many people don’t do them all the time. And that means even a small food safety mistake can cause a serious illness like kidney disease, brain damage, paralysis, or even death.

We hope after reading our list below you become motivated right away to make a rock solid commitment to never making these food safety mistakes again!


Not Washing Your Hands Before + After Handling Food

Why is this important? Because germs on your hands can (and often do) contaminate the food you eat. In fact, this food safety mistake causes most foodborne illnesses.

What you need to do: Wash your hands properly (for at least 20 seconds with soap and water) before and after handling food.



Undercooking Meat, Poultry, Seafood, and Eggs

Why is this important? Because the only time cooked food is safe to eat is when it’s been cooked to a high enough temperature to kill potentially harmful bacteria like Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli.

What you need to do: Check our safe food temperatures chart and always cook your food to these minimum safe temps.

Would you like one of our new safe temperature magnets (see the photo above)? Get in touch with Stanley Rutledge, Community Coordinator, at:



Thawing Food on the Counter

Why is this important? Germs can multiply extremely rapidly in food when left at room temperatures. (The Danger Zone is between 40°F and 140°F)

What you need to do: When thawing your food, do it via these three safe methods: In the refrigerator, in the microwave, or in cold water. Learn more here.



Smelling or Tasting Food to See If It’s OK to Eat

Why is this important? Because even if your food looks, smells, and tastes good, harmful bacteria could still be lurking in it. Tasting just a small amount of contaminated food can cause a serious foodborne illness.

What you need to do:  Toss out food before bacteria begins to grow. Check out safe food storage times here.



Cross-Contaminating Raw and Cooked Meat, Poultry, and Seafood

Why is this important? Because if you handle/prepare raw meat/poultry/seafood and those foods come in contact with cooked/prepared foods, bacteria can transfer from the raw foods to the cooked foods you’re about to eat.

What you need to do:  Always separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods (vegetables, fruits, salads, etc.) when preparing or refrigerating them. Be sure to use separate equipment and utensils like knives/cutting boards for raw meat/poultry/seafood. And when storing raw food, use containers to avoid contact with prepared foods.



Leaving Leftovers Out Too Long

Why is this important? Because when foods are sitting out on a countertop or outside for long periods, the warm temperature is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

What you need to do:  Refrigerate or freeze your leftovers within two hours to prevent growth of bacteria. If the temperature is 90°F or more and your food has been sitting out, refrigerate or freeze it within one hour.

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