Keep Food Safe!

By Siew Guan Lee – University of Idaho Extension

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness that is unlikely to be transmitted through food. However, it is important to practice hand hygiene and follow safe food handling steps to keep you and your family safe.

Foodborne illness, often called food poisoning, is an illness that comes from a food you eat. Foodborne bacteria grow fastest at temperatures between 90 to 110 °F. During summertime, the warmer temperatures and higher humidity are ideal for bacterial growth. Here are some safe food handling information to help you be prepared and stay healthy:

Clean

  • Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Use clean cutting boards, utensils and work areas to prepare foods.
  • Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables under cool running water just before preparing or eating them. It is not recommended to use soap or detergent according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Do not wash raw meat before cooking as this can spread the bacteria from raw meat and meat juices to other foods and surfaces.

Separate

  • Keep raw meats, poultry, fish and their juices away from other food in your shopping cart, in the refrigerator, or as you prepare food.
  • Do not use the same platter, cutting board or utensils for raw and cooked foods.

Cook

Use a food thermometer to make sure the food is cooked to a safe internal temperature:

  • Beef, pork, veal and lamb (roast, steaks and chops): 145 °F with
    a 3-minute “rest time” after removal from the heat source
  • Fin fish: 145 °F
  • Ground meats: 160 °F
  • Poultry (whole, parts or ground): 165 °F
  • Shrimp, lobster and crabs: flesh should be pearly and opaque
  • Clams, oysters and mussels: shells should open during cooking

Chill

  • It is only safe to thaw food in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Never thaw food at room temperature, such as on the counter-top. After thawing in cold water or the microwave, cook the food immediately.
  • Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours (1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F).
  • Leftovers should be used or frozen within 4 days. Make sure to reheat your leftovers to 165°F before serving.

Source: USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Food Safety Education. (www.fsis.usda.gov)

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