Creating A Healthy Kitchen: Food Safety in Your Kitchen

As much as 60% of foodborne illness may be from food prepared right in your own kitchen. According to the CDC, foodborne illnesses are most dangerous for children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems, but they can affect anyone. Therefore practicing good food safety habits in your kitchen is important for keeping your family healthy and safe from foodborne illnesses.

Here are some very important things you can do to keep you and your family and friends safe from foodborne illness at home.

The CDC and USDA offer these  “Rules of Food Safety

CLEAN

  • Wash your hands and surfaces, with warm soapy water, often.
  • Germs can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils, and cutting boards.
  • Clean your sponges every few days by soaking them in a bowl of water with one teaspoon of bleach.
  • Disinfect your sink with bleach and water right after you’ve cooked with raw meat, eggs, or poultry.
  • Wash and/or scrub fresh fruits and vegetables under running water before cutting, cooking or eating.

SEPARATE


  • Don’t cross-contaminate. Put raw meat, fish and poultry on the bottom shelf in the refrigerator so the juices don’t drip on foods that won’t be cooked.
  • Use a hard cutting surface with no splits or holes in it. Germs can grow in them.
  • After cutting or working with raw meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and melons, wash your hands before touching any food that will be eaten without being cooked.
  • Wash, rinse and sanitize the cutting surface and all the utensils (knives, etc.) every time you finish cutting raw meat, fish, poultry and melons. Household bleach is a good sanitizer. Use a capful (1 tsp.) for each gallon of cool water.

COOK

  • Cook food to the right temperature. You may think you can tell when food is “done” simply by checking its color and texture, but there is no way to be sure that it is safely done without following a few important but simple steps.
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature: 145°F for whole meats (allowing the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or consuming), 160°F for ground meats, and 165°F for all poultry.
  • If food has been sitting at room temperature (in the “danger zone”) for up to 2 hours, refrigerate it or reheat it.
  • Reheat foods to 165° F or above; use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.

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Try to move foods through “The Danger Zone”, the temperature range where germs can grow most quickly and easily, as fast as you can by cooking, cooling, or reheating in the right way.

CHILL


  • Keep your refrigerator below 40°F and refrigerate foods properly. Germs can grow in many foods within 2 hours unless you refrigerate them. (During the summer heat, cut that time down to 1 hour.)
  • Not cooling food the right way may be the biggest cause of foodborne illness. Do not cover hot food until it has cooled to 41° F or below.

Remember these simple steps: wash hands and surfaces often, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to proper temperatures, and refrigerate promptly.

USDA Kitchen Companion – Your Safe Food Handbook http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/2bc7ada9-12a4-4b36-960c-3230904edcc2/Kitchen_Companion.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

CDC – Food Safety – http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/