How to Avoid Foodborne Illnesses

September 20, 2017
Foodborne Illness

Although the U.S. has one of the world's safest food supplies, contamination can occur from time to time. To keep your family safe from foodborne illnesses, take the following precautions.

Standard Best Practices

There are some basic ways you can drastically reduce your risk of contracting a foodborne illness, including:

  • Clean frequently. Wash your hands and kitchen surfaces often.
  • Separate foods. Be careful not to cross-contaminate meats with other foods and clean surfaces.
  • Chill promptly. Don't leave meat sitting out for extended periods of time.
  • Cook thoroughly. Cook all meats to proper temperatures.

What Is a Proper Cooking Temperature?
Because they are surprisingly rugged, disease-causing microbes and pathogens can survive extremely high temperatures. To make sure your food is safe, be sure to heat eggs and all ground meats to at least 160°F. Fresh meat chops, steaks and roasts should be heated to 145°F, and poultry and fowl to 165°F. Remember, it's not enough to guess; use a thermometer to confirm that your food has reached a safe minimum temperature.

Washing Your Hands

It's always a good idea to wash your hands before eating or preparing food; however, it's especially important after handling high-risk items. Be sure to scrub your hands using soap for a minimum of 20 seconds after:

  • Using the bathroom
  • Changing a baby diaper
  • Tending to someone who is ill
  • Touching pets
  • Coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
  • Touching raw meat, fish or uncooked eggs

While commonly used in many U.S. homes, wood cutting boards tend to accumulate bacteria, because they are so porous. Play it safe by using plastic cutting boards if possible. You should also never use plates, platters or utensils to serve or hold vegetables if they have come into contact with raw meat.

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