As we approach the holiday season ensuring food safety is of paramount importance. To prevent the risk of foodborne illnesses it’s crucial to take extra precautions in handling, cooking, and storing food to guarantee a safe and enjoyable celebration.
Practice proper food handling and cleaning of the cooking space is crucial to prevent foodborne illnesses:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with plain soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before and after handling food.
- Clean cutting boards, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water after each use, particularly if they've encountered raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
- Keep raw and cooked foods separate to avoid cross-contamination.
- Rinse fruits and vegetables under running water. Use a produce brush for firm produce to clean off any stubborn dirt.
- Avoid washing meat, poultry, eggs, or seafood to prevent the spread of harmful germs.
- Wash dishcloths often in hot water.
- Wash utensils and dishes that touch raw items with hot, soapy water.
- Store food in containers or sealed, leakproof plastic bags in the fridge. Click here to learn how long items are safe in your fridge.
Cook: Ensure that food is cooked to a safe temperature for consumption.
- Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of cooked foods. Refer to this Minimum Cooking Temperatures Chart for specific guidelines.
- Keep hot foods at or above 140°F (60°C) to prevent the growth of bacteria. If not served immediately, use chafing dishes, warming trays, or slow cookers to maintain the proper (140 degree F)temperature.
- Microwave food thoroughly, following package directions. Stir food during heating if necessary.
Chill: Proper refrigeration and freezing are essential.
- Refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours. Your refrigerator should be set to 40°F (4°C) or below. Never leave perishable foods out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour if the temperature is above 90°F(32°C). Use shallow containers to store leftovers and refrigerate them promptly.
- Thaw and marinate foods in the refrigerator. Freezing keeps food safe until it can be cooked but does not destroy harmful germs.
- Food Safety Home Page | CDC: Centers for Disease control and prevention (CDC) guidelines for food safety here.
- Food Safety | Arizona Department of Agriculture (az.gov) Regulatory Guidelines for food safety and handling.
- FoodSafety.gov: A federal government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Food Safety Charts | FoodSafety.gov