Food Safety

Food Safety // The Basics 

Last Updated on June 22, 2023 by Create Better Health

There are four basics to food safety:  

  • Clean 
  • Separate 
  • Cook 
  • Chill 

Clean: Wash Your Hands and Cooking Areas 

Kitchens are full of germs that can easily be transferred to the food you eat. Prior to cooking food, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm or cold water. Repeat this during and after preparing your food too. This becomes extremely important when handling raw meat, chicken, seafood, flour, and eggs.  

Your hands aren’t the only thing you should wash when handling food. Utensils, cutting boards, and countertops should be washed too. Use hot and soapy water when washing surfaces.  

Fruits and vegetables should always be washed under running water too.  

Don’t wash meat, poultry, or eggs! This can cause germs to spread as their juices splash onto your sink or countertops.  

Separate: Don’t Cross Contaminate 

Ready to eat foods and raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs should always be separated. This includes your grocery cart! Always store raw or marinating meats in sealed containers, packages, or bags. This prevents their juices from leaking onto any other food.  

Cutting boards are a common culprit of cross-contamination. Be sure to use different cutting boards for meats, produce, bread, and cooked foods.  

Cooking Temperatures and the Danger Zone 

The internal temperature of food is important when it comes to cooking food. You can easily become ill if food isn’t cooked to the proper temperatures. Use a food thermometer to check food as you cook. Click here to read a detailed chart of proper food temperatures.  

Leaving food out at room temperature can cause bacteria growth too. The danger zone is considered temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F. Never keep food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. If it’s warmer than 90 °F, food should not be left out more than 1 hour. 

Chill: Refrigerating Foods 

Keep your refrigerator at 40 °F or below and your freezer at 0 °F or below. When putting leftovers or other warm foods away, place them in shallow containers so they chill faster. When removing chilled foods from the fridge or freezer thaw them in cold water or a microwave. Never thaw food on the countertop.  

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