In a season synonymous with fresh fare, it’s more important than ever to make sure your food prep and storage habits are up to snuff. More than 76 million people every year come down with food-borne illnesses, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov/foodsafety). And although media attention rightly focuses on industrial lapses—as with the recent pistachio scare—CDC studies show that most food-borne diseases result from improper handling. Heed these simple precautions to avoid becoming part of the statistics.
• When shopping, place meat products in plastic bags to avoid contaminating other foods. If you don’t plan to go straight home, take an insulated cooler for transporting perishable foods..
• Refrigerate perishable foods no more than two hours after purchasing or cooking.
• Use or freeze food within three to five days of its sell-by date.
• Clean cans before opening lids
• Cut away deep bruises in fruit—they’re bacteria breeding grounds.
• To prevent bacteria from spreading, don’t wash raw meat before cooking it.
• Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees (steaming hot); bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a boil.
• Clean kitchen surfaces and cutting boards with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
Did you know?
• You can’t tell by simply looking at, smelling, or tasting food whether it contains pathogens.
• You don’t need to wash store-bought eggs before cracking them. During processing, eggs are coated lightly in mineral oil to prevent bacteria from permeating shells.
• Most E. coli illness is linked to eating undercooked contaminated ground beef.
Does washing produce make it safer?
Yes. Not only does washing fruit and veggies reduce pesticide residues, it also helps to reduce bacteria that may latch on to produce during processing, shipping, or handling. Make your own wash by mixing 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice with 2 tablespoons vinegar or baking soda and 1 cup water; or try all-natural washes such as Bi-O-Kleen or Eat Cleaner. Spray on and wipe or rinse clean.
Safe cooking: internal temperatures
Beef, veal, lamb cuts: 145˚
Pork, ground beef: 160˚
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Gateway to Government Food Safety Information
Partnership for Food Safety Education