More than 48 million Americans become sick from and 3000 die of foodborne illnesses every year. The following tips offer methods for food safety and foodborne illness prevention:
- Wash Your Hands
Make sure to wash your hands before handling food and cooking. Scrub your hands using soap and running water for 20 seconds; don’t forget to wash the back of your hands, the space between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Clean Surfaces, Utensils
Surfaces and cutting boards should be cleaned after each use with a bleach solution, whereas utensils and small cutting boards should be cleaned using hot, soapy water. Simply rinsing utensils, countertops, and cutting boards with water is not enough to stop bacteria from spreading.
- Wash Fruits, Vegetables
Wash your fruits and vegetables, even if you plan to peel them. Bacteria can spread from the outside of the fruits or vegetables to the inside as you cut and peel them. Note that meat, poultry, or eggs should not be washed.
- Avoid Cross-Contamination
Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from other foods because even after you have cleaned your hands and surfaces thoroughly, they can still spread illness-causing bacteria to ready-to-eat foods.
To make sure that your food has reached its safe, minimum cooking temperature, use a food thermometer—it is not enough to simply check the color and texture of the food. Because illness-causing bacteria can grow in many foods within 2 hours (1 hour during summer heat), it is important to refrigerate food promptly.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevention and education. www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/prevention.html. Accessed February 5, 2015;
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC and food safety. www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/cdc-and-food-safety.html. Accessed February 5, 2015.