Food Safety

Keep food safe with these simple steps:  Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill! 

Food Safety: Wash hands and surfaces often

CLEAN: Wash Hands and Surfaces Often

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom.

  • Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.

  • Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten.

  • Rub firm-skinned fruits and vegetables under running tap water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water.

Food Safety: Separate - don't cross contaminate

SEPARATE: Don't Cross Contaminate

  • Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags, and in your refrigerator.

  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.

Food Safety: Cook to proper temperatures

COOK: Cook to Proper Temperatures

  • Use a food thermometer, which measures the internal temperature of cooked meat, poultry, and egg dishes, to make sure that the food is cooked to a safe internal temperature.
  • Cook beef roasts and steaks to a safe minimum internal temperature of 145°F. Cook pork to a minimum of 145°F. All poultry should reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F throughout the bird, as measured with a food thermometer.
  • Cook all ground meat to 160°F. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your burgers.
  • Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm, not runny. Don't use recipes in which eggs remain raw or only partially cooked. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160°F.
  • Cook fish to 145°F or until the flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.
  • Make sure there are no cold spots in food (where bacteria can survive) when cooking in a microwave oven. For best results, cover food, stir and rotate for even cooking. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking.
  • Bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil when reheating. Heat other leftovers thoroughly to 165°F.
  • Use microwave-safe cookware and plastic wrap when cooking foods in a microwave oven.
Food Safety: Chill promptly

CHILL: Refrigerate Promptly

  • Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, and other perishables as soon as you get them home from the store.
  • Never let raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food, or cut fresh fruits or vegetables sit at room temperature more than two hours before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer (one hour when the temperature is above 90°F).
  • Never defrost food at room temperature. Food must be kept at a safe temperature during thawing. There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave using the defrost setting. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.
  • Always marinate food in the refrigerator.
  • Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.
  • Use or discard refrigerated food on a regular basis.
USDA Food Safety Guidelines

© United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)

To learn more about food safety, please visit: 

choosemyplate.gov/food-safety