- Don't eat food if it has expired or if you question its safety.
See US FDA Recalls, Market Withdrawls and Safety Alerts.
- Wash fruits and vegetables, but not meat, poultry or eggs.
- Treat water if in a questionable area or if a disaster hits and water pipes may be broken.
Food Handling Guidelines
Four Simple Steps to Food Safety:
* CLEAN - Wash hands and surfaces often.
* SEPARATE - Don't cross-contaminate.
* COOK - Cook (and Reheat) to proper temperatures.
* CHILL - Refrigerate promptly.
You can incorporate these four simple steps into your daily routines in so many ways. Some examples are given below using USDA FSIS BeFoodSafe logos. Click on links for additional information. For further reading, explore Publications: Food Safety, a collection of food safety documents from University Extension offices nationwide, assembled together by the UC Master Food Preserver Program.
CLEAN: Kitchen & Personal Hygiene
- Wash hands before, during and after preparing foods.
- Wash hands after using the restroom, grooming or petting animals.
- Wash & sanitize all surfaces, cutting boards and other equipment to be used in food preparation.
- Protect food from pantry pests, pets and insects.
Excerpts from FoodSafety.gov Clean: Wash Hands, Utensils, and Surfaces Often
Why it matters - Illness-causing bacteria can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils, and cutting boards. Unless you wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces the right way, you could spread bacteria to your food, and your family.
- Wash hands the right way—for 20 seconds with soap and running water. Washing your hands the right way can stop the spread of illness-causing bacteria.
- Wash surfaces and utensils after each use. Bacteria can be spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, and counter tops.
- Wash fruits and veggies—but not meat, poultry, or eggs! Did you know that—even if you plan to peel fruits and veggies—it’s important to wash them first because bacteria can spread from the outside to the inside as you cut or peel them.
COOK & Reheat Foods Adequately
- Cook raw foods thoroughly to the recommended minimum internal temperature, especially meat, eggs, seafood and poultry.
Excerpt from Food Safety: "Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Charts"
Follow the guidelines [on web page] for minimum cooking temperatures and rest time for meat, poultry, seafood, and other cooked foods. Be sure to use a food thermometer to check whether meat has reached a safe internal temperature that is hot enough to kill harmful germs that cause food poisoning.
- Reheat cooked foods and leftovers thoroughly.
- Bring foods like soups and stews to boiling to make sure that they have reached 212ºF.
CHILL to Keep Foods at Safe Temperatures
- Do not leave cooked food and leftovers at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- Keep food out of the danger zone, between 40° F and 140° F.
- Refrigerate food below 40°F.
- Consider purchasing thermometers for your refrigerator and freezer.
- Use dial instant-read thermometers for meats, poultry and fish.
SEPARATE to Avoid Cross-Contamination
- Keep raw meats and seafood separate from other foods.
- Use separate cutting boards and utensils to prepare meats, fruits & vegetables, and prepared foods.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect surfaces in contact with raw foods.
Excerpts from FSIS.UDSA.gov Be Smart. Keep Foods Apart. Don't Cross-Contaminate.
Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, cutting boards, utensils, etc., if they are not handled properly. This is especially true when handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood, so keep these foods and their juices away from already cooked or ready-to-eat foods and fresh produce.
You can prevent cross-contamination and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
When Shopping: Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods in your grocery-shopping cart. Place these foods in plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping onto other foods. It is also best to separate these foods from other foods at check out and in your grocery bags.
When Refrigerating Food: Place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping onto other foods. Raw juices often contain harmful bacteria.
Store eggs in their original carton and refrigerate as soon as possible.
When Preparing Food: Wash hands and surfaces often. Harmful bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, and counter tops. To prevent this:
- Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food, and after using the bathroom, changing diapers; or handling pets.
- Use hot, soapy water and paper towels or clean cloths to wipe up kitchen surfaces or spills. Wash cloths often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
- Wash cutting boards, dishes, and counter tops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next item.
- A solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water may be used to sanitize surfaces and utensils.
Always use a clean cutting board. If possible, use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
Marinating Food: Always marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
Sauce that is used to marinate raw meat, poultry, or seafood should not be used on cooked foods, unless it is boiled just before using.
When Serving Food: Always use a clean plate.
Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw food.
More on Food Safety
- UC Davis Post Harvest Technology Publication #21590 "Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Better Taste"
- Cutting Boards & Food Safety from FSIS.USDA.gov Food Safety factsheet
- Leftovers & Food Safety from FSIS.USDA.gov Food Safety factsheet
- Holiday Food Safety
- UCANR Master Food Preserver Safety Notes
- UCANR Publication #8366 "Food Safety in Your Home Vegetable Garden"