Every year, thousands of Americans get sick due to foodborne illness. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to keep your food safe.
- Temperature Control
Keeping foods out of the “DANGER ZONE” will help to lower your risk of foodborne illness. Generally, foods should be kept at or below 41 degrees or above 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Although there are exceptions to this rule, reducing the amount of time food spends in the DANGER ZONE means reducing your chance of getting sick.
Raw protein foods, like steak, hamburger, fish, and chicken, may contain harmful bacteria. When preparing these types of foods, be sure to keep them away from other foods, like vegetables that are not going to be cooked. Utensils and cutting boards used to prepare raw foods should not be used to prepare or serve cooked foods. You can sanitize these utensils to make them safe for use by washing them in a bleach and water solution (1/2 cap of food safe bleach to one gallon of water or follow the directions on the label). This will lessen the possibility of transferring harmful bacteria from the raw food to the cooked food.
- Personal Hygiene
In the United States, a large percentage of the healthy population carries potentially harmful bacteria in their nose, mouth and on their skin. If these bacteria get into food, they can multiply and make you sick. To reduce this possibility, it is extremely important to keep your hands clean when preparing or handling food. Simply scrubbing your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds will significantly decrease the number of bacteria that comes in contact with your food.
Remember – keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold, completely separate raw foods from cooked foods and wash your hands well and often to protect your family from foodborne illness.