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Treat It Right: Food Safety

Did you know that millions of people get sick from foodborne illnesses every year? The culprits are usually raw meat and eggs, but produce and canned foods can cause problems, too. By following these tips, you can help keep your food safe at home:

  • Shop smart. Never let juices from raw meat touch other groceries. Avoid canned goods with dents, cracks, or bulging lids.

  • Wash up. Wash your hands before preparing anything in the kitchen. In addition, wash your hands between different tasks. Wash all produce before you slice it.

  • Clean thoroughly. Wipe down all surfaces and utensils touched by meat.

  • Cook thoroughly. Red meat should reach at least 145 degrees F (medium rare); pork and ground beef should reach 165 degrees F; poultry, 180 degrees F. Cook eggs until the whites aren't runny and yolks begin to firm up.

  • Keep things separate. Use separate utensils for cooking and serving. Use one cutting board for chopping meat and poultry and another for ready-to-eat foods and produce.

  • Respect leftovers. Use them within three to five days. Reheat sauces, soups, and gravy by bringing to a boil. All leftovers should be heated to 165 degrees F.

  • Clean up. Do the dishes right away. Wash dishtowels and dishcloths in hot water and bleach. Clean surfaces with hot, soapy water or a bleach-water solution.

Quick quiz

1. How long can you thaw frozen food on the counter?

2. How cold should you keep the refrigerator?

3. How does spoiled food taste?


1. Always thaw food in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Alternatively, food can be rapidly thawed in the microwave if used immediately after thawing.

2. Below 40 degrees F, with the freezer at or below 0 degrees F.

3. Don't taste questionable food. If it looks or smells strange, toss it. Throw out any can that is bulging without opening it.