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Food Safety

Food Handling Guidelines

Avoid Unsafe Food and Water 

  • 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  

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 and equipment to be used in food preparation.
  • Protect food from pests, pets and insects

SEPARATE & 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.

COOK & Reheat Foods Adequately

  • Cook raw foods thoroughly to the recommended minimum internal temperature, especially meat, eggs, seafood and poultry.
  • Reheat cooked foods thoroughly.
  • Bring foods like soups and stews to boiling to make sure that they have reached 212ºF.

CHILL: Keep Foods at Safe Temperatures

  • Do not leave cooked food 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.

Wash Hands, Utensils, and Surfaces Often (from FoodSafety.gov)

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.

Follow these top tips to keep your family safe:

  • 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.

Read more….


Pests in Your Pantry?

If you have insects invading your kitchen or pantry, or if you've ever opened stored food products and discovered pests inside, you'll want to watch this new video from UC IPM. It describes several types of pantry pests, foods they are attracted to, and includes steps on how to prevent, manage and eliminate them from your home. 

How to Get Rid of Panty Pests (video)

You can also read an article about pantry pests in the Retail and Garden Center IPM News at:

UC IPM News: Dealing with Pantry Pests (page 3)

and UC IPM Pantry Pest Notes 7452

Did you know that UC IPM has over 35 helpful home and garden videos? Visit this site to select one to watch:

UC IPM Video Library: Home & Garden


Cutting Boards and Food Safety (from FSIS.USDA.gov)

Which is better: wooden or plastic cutting boards? Consumers may choose either wood or a nonporous surface cutting board such as plastic, marble, glass, or pyroceramic. Nonporous surfaces are easier to clean than wood. 

Avoid Cross-Contamination
The Meat and Poultry Hotline says that consumers may use wood or a nonporous surface for cutting raw meat and poultry. However, consider using one cutting board for fresh produce and bread and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. This will prevent bacteria on a cutting board that is used for raw meat, poultry, or seafood from contaminating a food that requires no further cooking. 

Cleaning Cutting Boards 
To keep all cutting boards clean, the Hotline recommends washing them with hot, soapy water after each use; then rinse with clear water and air dry or pat dry with clean paper towels. Nonporous acrylic, plastic, or glass boards and solidwood boards can be washed in a dishwasher (laminated boards may crack and split). 

Both wooden and plastic cutting boards can be sanitized with a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Flood the surface with the bleach solution and allow it to stand for several minutes. Rinse with clear water and air dry or pat dry with clean paper towels. 

Replace Worn Cutting Boards
All plastic and wooden cutting boards wear out over time. Once cutting boards become excessively worn or develop hard-to-clean grooves, they should be discarded


Leftovers and Food Safety (from FSIS.USDA.gov)

Often when we cook at home or eat in a restaurant, we have leftovers. To ensure that leftovers are safe to eat, make sure the food is cooked to a safe temperature and refrigerate the leftovers promptly. Not cooking food to a safe temperature and leaving food out at an unsafe temperature are the two main causes of foodborne illness. Safe handling of leftovers is very important to reducing foodborne illness. Follow the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service's recommendations for handling leftovers safely.

  • Cook Food Safely at Home
  • Keep Food out of the "Danger Zone"
  • Cool Food Rapidly
  • Wrap Leftovers Well
  • Store Leftovers Safely
  • Thaw Frozen Leftovers Safely
  • Reheating Leftovers without Thawing
  • Reheat Leftovers Safely
  • Refreezing Previously Frozen Leftovers

* Cook Food Safely at Home

The first step in having safe leftovers is cooking the food safely. Use a food thermometer to make sure that the food is cooked to a safe, minimum internal temperature.

  • Red meats: Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145° F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.
  • Ground meats: Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160° F as measured with a food thermometer.
  • Poultry: Cook all poultry to an internal temperature of 165° F as measured with a food thermometer.

* Keep Food out of the "Danger Zone"

Bacteria grow rapidly between the temperatures of 40° F and 140° F. After food is safely cooked, hot food must be kept hot at 140° F or warmer to prevent bacterial growth. Within 2 hours of cooking food or after it is removed from an appliance keeping it warm, leftovers must be refrigerated. Throw away all perishable foods that have been left in room temperature for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is over 90° F, such as at an outdoor picnic during summer).

Cold perishable food, such as chicken salad or a platter of deli meats, should be kept at 40° F or below. When serving food at a buffet, keep food hot in chafing dishes, slow cookers, or warming trays. Keep food cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice or use small serving trays and replace them often. Discard any cold leftovers that have been left out for more than 2 hours at room temperature (1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F).

* Cool Food Rapidly

To prevent bacterial growth, it's important to cool food rapidly so it reaches as fast as possible the safe refrigerator-storage temperature of 40° F or below. To do this, divide large amounts of food into shallow containers. A big pot of soup, for example, will take a long time to cool, inviting bacteria to multiply and increasing the danger of foodborne illness. Instead, divide the pot of soup into smaller containers so it will cool quickly.

Cut large items of food into smaller portions to cool. For whole roasts or hams, slice or cut them into smaller parts. Cut turkey into smaller pieces and refrigerate. Slice breast meat; legs and wings may be left whole.

Hot food can be placed directly in the refrigerator or be rapidly chilled in an ice or cold water bath before refrigerating.

* Wrap Leftovers Well

Cover leftovers, wrap them in airtight packaging, or seal them in storage containers. These practices help keep bacteria out...

More Food Safety Publications

FightBAC! brochure (Spanish) from www.fightbac.org - Fight foodborne BACteria
Four Simple Steps to Food Safety: CLEAN - SEPARATE - COOK - CHILL 

UCANR Food Safety Notes

UCANR Publication #8366 "Food Safety in Your Home Vegetable Garden"