Office of Health Protection
How to Prevent Foodborne Illness
- Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before preparing, serving, and eating food.
- Clean all food preparation surfaces that will come in contact with food.
- Wash fresh fruits and vegetables with plain water before eating or cooking.
- Wash hands, utensils, plates, platters, and countertops after contact with raw meat or poultry and before contact with the same food when cooked.
- Keep dishwashing sponges and cloths clean.
- Serve cooked products on clean plates, with clean utensils.
- Discard all outdated, obviously spoiled, and possibly unsafe food.
- Do not let raw meat or poultry or their juices come in contact with other foods.
- Enclose individual packages of raw meat and poultry purchased at the grocery store in plastic bags to avoid contaminating other foods.
- Thaw frozen meat or poultry in the refrigerator or in a microwave oven, not on the countertop.
- Use different utensils and platters to prepare food for cooking and to serve food after cooking.
- Maintain the internal temperature of cooked foods that will be served hot at 140ºF or above.
- Use a meat thermometer to measure proper cooking temperatures.
- Cook ground meat and fresh meat to at least 160ºF.
- Cook fresh poultry to at least 180ºF and ground poultry to at least 170ºF.
- Don't taste meat, poultry, eggs, fish, shellfish, or any other food of animal origin when it's raw or during cooking.
- Cover and reheat leftovers to 165ºF before serving.
- Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm.
- Refrigerate all products marked "keep refrigerated."
- Freeze all products with a "keep frozen" label.
- Keep the refrigerator at 40ºF or below and the freezer at 0ºF or below.
- Keep cold foods cold (40ºF or below) until served.
- Arrange items in the refrigerator and freezer to allow cold air to circulate freely.
- Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in covered shallow (less than 2 inches deep) containers as soon as possible and always within 2 hours of cooking.
Source: Preventing Foodborne Illness, A Guide to Safe Food Handling, USDA, Sept. 1990.