Tips to Reduce the Risk of Foodborne Illness

— Written By Lethia Lee and last updated by Cindy Nance

Wash hands with soap and water, wet hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available. Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub all parts of the hand for 20 seconds. Rinse hands thoroughly and dry using a clean paper towel. Sanitize surfaces; surfaces should be washed with hot, soapy water. A solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water can be used to sanitize surfaces. Clean sweep refrigerated foods once a week. At least once a week, throw out refrigerated foods that should no longer be eaten. Cooked leftovers should be discarded after 4 days; raw poultry and ground meats, 1 to 2 days.

Keep appliances clean: clean the inside and the outside of appliances. Pay particular attention to buttons and handles where cross-contamination to hands can occur. Rinse produce, rinse fresh vegetables and fruits under running water just before eating, cutting, or cooking even if you plan to peel or cut the produce before eating. Separate foods when shopping by placing raw seafood, meat, and poultry in plastic bags. Store them below ready to eat foods in your refrigerator. Separate foods when preparing and serving and always use clean cutting boards for fresh produce and separate one for raw seafood, meat and poultry. Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board held by raw food. Cook and chill: a food thermometer should always be used to ensure that food is safely cooked and food is held at a safe temperature until eaten. Always cook food to a safe internal temperature. For seafood, meat, poultry, egg dishes, pork chops, steaks and lamb cook until temperature reaches 145°F. All raw ground beef, veal, turkey and chicken to 160°F. Foods are not safe to eat when they are in the danger zone between 40-140°F for more than 2 hours. (1 hour if the temperature was above 90°F)

For more information contact Lethia Lee, EFNEP Assistant with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at 910-592-7161.