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Food Handling Tips

Four Ways to Thaw Foods Safely
To keep thawed foods from becoming a breeding ground for bacteria, make sure you thaw it in one of the following ways.

  • In the refrigerator
  • Submerged in running water
  • In the microwave
  • As part of the cooking process

Remember the basic food safety rule: do not allow food to remain in the temperature danger zone between 41 F and 140 F for more than four hours.

Keep Raw Meats and Ready-to-Eat Foods Separate
Clean cutting boards:
When juices from raw meats or germs from unclean objects accidentally touch cooked or ready-to-eat foods (such as fruits or salads), cross-contamination occurs. If not cleaned correctly, the board harbors harmful bacteria. Follow these guidelines:

  • Use multiple cutting boards: one strictly to cut meat, poultry and seafood; the other for ready-to-eat foods like breads and vegetables.
  • Wash boards thoroughly in hot, soapy water after each use.
  • Discard cutting boards that have cracks and excessive knife scars.

Prevent cross-contamination:

  • Wash plates between uses or use separate plates: one for holding raw meats, another for cooked foods.
  • Store meats, poultry and seafood on the bottom of the refrigerator so juices don’t drip into other foods.
  • Place washed produce into clean storage containers, not back into the original ones.
  • Use one utensil to taste and another to stir or mix food.
  • Use clean scissors or blades to open bags of food.
  • Wear plastic or vinyl gloves if you have a sore or cut on your hand.
  • Wash dishcloths and towels often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
  • Disinfect sponges in a chlorine bleach solution.

Refrigerate Promptly Below 40 F

  • Refrigerate foods quickly and at a proper temperature to slow the growth of bacteria and prevent foodborne illness.
  • Refrigerate leftover foods after two hours. In hot weather (90 F or above), refrigerate leftover foods after one hour.
  • Set your refrigerator below 40 F to keep perishable foods out of the danger zone (41 F to 140 F). Keep a refrigerator thermometer inside your refrigerator at all times.

Keeping Food Safe During the Shopping Trip

  • Use the plastic bags available in the produce and meat departments. They will help prevent cross-contamination from meat juices spilling onto other products in your cart.
  • Use coolers with ice or frozen gel packs for cold and frozen foods if the trip home in summer months is 20 minutes or longer.
  • Put refrigerated items away first. Place milk and eggs in the back of the refrigerator (that’s the coldest spot). Meat and lunchmeats should go in compartments that are low and to the back of the fridge.
  • Don’t reuse a product’s original packaging. If not using all of a fresh seafood, meat, poultry, lunchmeat or produce item, store the remaining product in a new, clean container and discard the original packaging. The same practice applies to freezing fresh products that have been opened. Don’t freeze them in their original packaging.

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