Food Safety: Preventing Cross Contamination

According to, an estimated 1 in 6 Americans will get sick from food poisoning each year. You can help protect yourself and your family from food borne illnesses by following these 4 steps for food safety: clean, separate, cook and chill. 


  • CLEAN 

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, scrubbing the back of hands, between fingers and under fingernails. Wash your hands before preparing or eating food, and frequently during food preparation to avoid cross contamination.  This is especially important if you handle anything that may spread harmful germs and bacteria like garbage, raw meat or eggs. Wash all surfaces and utensils after each use, including cutting boards, kitchen counters, dish towels, and brushes. Remember to rinse all fresh produce before use. 



Keep all raw meat, seafood and eggs separate during both storage and preparation. Place animal products in separate bags from other foods at the grocery store and store them in leak-proof containers  in the refrigerator or freezer to avoid cross contamination. 


  • COOK 

Cook foods to the proper temperature to kill harmful germs. You can check internal temperatures using a food thermometer. The safest way to thaw meat for cooking is in the refrigerator and cook them as soon as they are thawed. 


  • CHILL 

Store foods at the right temperature and to throw out foods when they are no longer safe to eat.  Refrigerate perishable foods within two hours or within one hour if exposed to higher temperatures, such as sitting outside on a sunny day or in a warm car. Set your refrigerator at or just below 40 and the freezer just below 0. Use an appliance thermometer to check the temperatures. Remember, freezing foods does not destroy bacteria but it does allow food to last a little longer before use. 


By remembering to clean, separate, cook and chill in your kitchen, you will keep your family healthy and safe. 


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