Most people do not think about foodborne illness until they become ill from unknowingly consuming contaminated food. While the food supply in the United States is one of the safest in the world, CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 out of 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases.
Safe food handling and preparation are important in protecting against foodborne illnesses. Four simple steps will go a long way toward reducing the risk of foodborne illness for you and your family.
The first step to preparing food safely is to CLEAN hands and surfaces often. Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get on hands, cutting boards, knives, and countertops. Frequent cleaning can keep that from happening. To stop the spread of pathogens and prevent food-borne illnesses follow these important guidelines:
The second step to preparing food safely is to SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate one food with another.Cross-contamination occurs when pathogenic bacteria is spread from a food to a surface, from a surface to another food, or from one food to another. Ways to prevent cross-contamination:
The third step is to COOK foods to proper temperatures. Foods are safe when they are heated long enough and at a temperature high enough to kill the harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Even for experienced cooks, the improper heating and preparation of food means bacteria can survive.
|Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb, and Pork||145°F and let rest for 3 minutes|
|Ground Meat (Except Poultry)||160°F|
|Leftovers & Casseroles||165°F|
|Eggs & Egg Dishes|
|Eggs||Cook until yolk & white are firm|
The fourth and final step is to CHILL: Refrigerate foods promptly. Cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Bacteria spreads fastest at temperatures between 40 °F - 140 °F, so chilling food properly is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
"Four Easy Lessons in Safe Food Handling" brochures are available in bulk online at http://www.drugfreeinfo.org/state/cart.php under the environmental category.
See especially the many articles and brochures in the For Consumers   area. Get a safe-cooking temperature chart; learn the best settings for your refrigerator, safe frozen food thawing times, and more.
Gateway to Government Food Safety Information
FoodSafety.gov is a gateway website that provides links to selected government food safety-related information.
USDA Food Safety Education   The Food Safety and Inspection Service page for consumers about the importance of safe food handling and how to reduce the risks associated with food borne illness including a large collection of Food Safety Fact Sheets.
Food Safety Project - Iowa State University Extension
Iowa State University Extension believes that resources are needed for consumers, foodservice operators, students and educators to access research-based, unbiased information on food safety and quality. The goal of the Food Safety Project is to develop educational materials that give the public the tools they need to minimize their risk of foodborne illness.
For more information contact:
Documents denoted by are available in Portable Document Format (.pdf).