Safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage are essential to prevent foodborne illness. You can't see, smell, or taste harmful bacteria that may cause illness. In every step of food preparation, follow the four Fight BAC! guidelines to keep food safe:
Clean -- Wash hands and surfaces often.
Separate -- Don't cross-contaminate.
Cook -- Cook to proper temperatures.
Chill -- Refrigerate promptly.
· Purchase refrigerated or frozen items after selecting your non-perishables.
· Never choose meat or poultry in packaging that is torn or leaking.
· Do not buy food past "Sell-By," "Use-By," or other expiration dates.
· Put raw meat and poultry into a plastic bag so meat juices will not cross-contaminate ready-to-eat food or food that is eaten raw, such as vegetables or fruit.
· Plan to drive directly home from the grocery store. If you live farther away than 30 minutes or the weather is hot, you may want to take a cooler with ice for the perishables.
· Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours (1 hour when the temperature is above 32 °C or 90 °F). Harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness grow rapidly at room temperature.
· Check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer with an appliance thermometer. The refrigerator should be at 4 °C or 40 °F or below and the freezer at -18 °C or 0 °F or below.
· Cook or freeze fresh poultry, fish, ground meats, and variety meats within 2 days; other beef, veal, lamb, or pork, within 3 to 5 days.
· Perishable food such as meat and poultry should be wrapped securely to maintain quality and to prevent meat juices from getting onto other food.
· To maintain quality when freezing meat and poultry in its original package, wrap the package again with foil or plastic wrap that is recommended for the freezer.
· In general, high-acid canned food such as tomatoes, grapefruit, and pineapple can be stored on the shelf for 12 to 18 months.
· Low-acid canned food such as meat, poultry, fish, and most vegetables will keep 2 to 5 years -- if the can remains in good condition and has been stored in a cool, clean, and dry place.
· Discard cans that are dented, leaking, bulging, or rusted.
· Always wash hands before and after handling food.
· Don't cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices away from other food.
· After cutting raw meats, wash hands, cutting board, knife, and countertops with hot, soapy water.
· Marinate meat and poultry in a covered dish in the refrigerator.
· Sanitize cutting boards by using a solution of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach in 1 quart of water.
· Refrigerator: The refrigerator allows slow, safe thawing. Make sure thawing meat and poultry juices do not drip onto other food.
· Cold Water: For faster thawing, place food in a leak-proof plastic bag. Submerge in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook immediately after thawing.
· Microwave: Cook meat and poultry immediately after microwave thawing.
· Cook ground meats to 71 °C or 160 °F; ground poultry to 74 °C or 165 °F.
· Beef, veal, and lamb steaks, roasts, and chops may be cooked to 63 °C or 145 °F, all cuts of fresh pork, 71 °C or 160 °F.
· Whole poultry should reach 32 °C or 180 °F in the thigh; breasts, 78 °C or 170 °F.
· Hot food should be held at 60 °C or 140 °F or warmer.
· Cold food should be held at 4 °C or 40 °F or colder.
· When serving food at a buffet, keep food hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays. Keep food cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice or use small serving trays and replace them often.
· Perishable food should not be left out more than 2 hours at room temperature (1 hour when the temperature is above 32 °C or 90 °F).
· Discard any food left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature was above 32 °C or 90 °F).
· Place food into shallow containers and immediately put in the refrigerator or freezer for rapid cooling.
· Use cooked leftovers within 4 days.
· Meat and poultry defrosted in the refrigerator may be refrozen before or after cooking.
· If thawed by other methods, cook before refreezing.
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