Food Safety

Food Safety - 4 Steps

Following four simple food safety steps you can help protect your family from food poisoning at home.

  1. Clean – wash your hands and surfaces often.
  2. Separate – don’t cross-contaminate.
  3. Cook – to the right temperature.
  4. Chill – promptly.

Cleaning your hands and surfaces often

Germs that cause food poisoning are often cross-contaminated from one food to another from uncleaned surfaces and unwashed hands.

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before, during, and after preparing food and before eating.
  • After preparing each food item, wash utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with hot, soapy water.
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water.

Separate, Don't Cross Contaminate

Raw meats such as chicken and other poultry, seafood, eggs, beef, and pork can spread germs. Keep ready-to-eat foods such as salads, crackers, and breads separate.

  • When grocery shopping, keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and juices away from other foods and bag them separately.
  • Keep raw or marinating meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in the refrigerator. (Store them in sealed containers or wrap them securely so the juices don’t leak onto other foods.)
  • Cut raw meats on a separate board or plate from one used for produce, bread, and other foods that won’t be cooked.
  • Raw chicken doesn’t need to be washed before cooking. Washing these foods can spread germs to other foods, the sink, and the counter. 

Cook to the right temperature

Food is safely cooked when the internal temperature gets high enough to kill germs that can make you sick. The only way to tell if food is safely cooked is to use a food thermometer. 

Food Type Type Internal Temperature (F)
Beef, bison, veal, goat, and lamb Steaks, roasts, chops 145(F) Rest time: 3 minutes
Ground meat and sausage 160(F)
Casseroles Meat and meatless 165(F)
Chicken, turkey, and other poultry All: whole bird, breasts, legs, thighs, wings, ground poultry, giblets, sausage, and stuffing inside poultry 165(F)
Eggs Raw Eggs Cook until yolk and white are firm
Egg dishes (such as frittata, quiche) 160(F)
Casseroles (containing meat and poultry) 165(F)
Ham Raw Ham 145(F) Rest Time: 3 minutes
Precooked ham (to reheat) 165(F) Note: Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140(F)
Leftovers Any type 165(F)
Pork Steaks, roasts, chops 165(F)
Ground meat and sausage 145(F) Rest time: 3 minutes
Rabbit and venison Wild or farm-raised 160(F)
Seafood Fish (whole or filet), such as salmon, tuna, tilapia, pollock, bass, cod, catfish, trout, etc. 145(F) or cook until fish is no longer translucent and separates easily with a fork
Shrimp, lobster, crab, and scallops Cook until flesh is pearly or white, and opaque
Clams, oysters, mussels Cook until shells open during cooking

Chill by refrigerating promptly

Leaving food at room temperature in the “Danger Zone” between 40(F) and 140(F) can result in bacteria multiplying rapidly.

  • Keep your refrigerator at 40(F) or below and your freezer at 0(F) or below.
  • Know when to throw food out before it spoils.
  • Package warm or hot food into several clean, shallow containers and then refrigerate.
  • Refrigerate perishable food (meat, seafood, dairy, cut fruit, some vegetables, and cooked leftovers) within 2 hours.
  • Thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator in cold water, or microwave. Never thaw food on the counter because bacteria multiply quickly in the parts of the food that reach room temperature.