Skip to Content
NASHVILLE.gov - Metro Government of Nashville & Davidson County, Tennessee NASHVILLE.gov - Metro Government of Nashville & Davidson County, Tennessee (Print logo)
Health Department

Safe at Home Plate
Consumer Food Safety Tutorial

Hand Washing

Wash hands with soap and warm water with a lot of friction for at least 20 seconds, then dry with a single use towel after going to the restroom; before and after handling food, especially raw meats, poultry, fish, etc. Do not use a dishrag or cloth because you will recontaminate your hands.

Cleaning and Sanitizing (Disinfecting) Work Surfaces and Utensils

  • Clean kitchen counter tops, cutting boards and other utensils that come in contact with food with hot soapy water, rinse thoroughly, then sanitize using a mixture of one (1) tablespoon of bleach per one (1) gallon of water. Swab the surfaces with the solution with a clean towel or sponge.
  • Keep sponges and dishcloths clean because when wet and dirty they may harbor bacteria and encourage bacterial growth.
  • Proper cleaning and sanitizing will reduce the possibility of bacteria getting to a food. Also, when drying a utensil, use a single service towel or let the utensil air dry.

Food Storage

  • Potentially hazardous foods such as beef, pork, poultry, egg products, tofu, seafood, fish, cooked rice and cut melons must be stored at 41°F or below or 140°F or above.
  • All meats, poultry products should be stored on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Never store meats over ready to eat foods, such as salads, etc.
  • Always use a thermometer to verify that the refrigerator temperature is 41°F or below.
  • All foods should be wrapped or covered while in storage.
  • Store large quantities of food in thin, shallow containers to insure rapid cooling.
  • Store canned foods in a cool, clean, dry place. Avoid extreme heat or cold.

Preparation

  • Hand washing can not be over emphasized. Wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap using a lot of friction for approximately 20 seconds then dry off with a paper towel before handling food.
  • Rinse vegetables thoroughly before preparation and consumption.
  • Wash, rinse and sanitize all food contact surfaces between uses (items such as cutting boards, knives, etc.).
  • Thaw food in the refrigerator, never at room temperature.
  • If you use a microwave to thaw foods, cook immediately after it is thawed.
  • When preparing salads such as potato salad, pre-chill all ingredients before mixing.

Cooking

  • Cook food thoroughly. When bacteria are present, only thorough cooking will destroy them.
  • Use a meat thermometer to determine if your foods have been cooked to a safe temperature.
  • Be sure all foods listed below are cooked to the temperatures specified:
  1. Poultry Products - 165.°F
  2. Ground Beef - 160°F
  3. Pork Products - 155°F
  4. Prime Rib - 130°F
  5. Beef Steak - 140°F
  • All cold foods that are to be served hot must be reheated to 165°F internal temperature.
  • When microwaving foods, use microwave safe containers. Cover, rotate, and allow for standing time, which contributes to thorough cooking.
  • When removing food from the grill, put it on a clean plate. Do not put cooked food on the same plate that held the raw meat.

Left-over Food

  • Clean and sanitize utensils that will come in contact with leftover food.
  • Hands must be washed before handling leftovers.
  • Leftovers that are to be refrigerated must be placed into shallow containers to facilitate quick cooling.
  • Once the meal is finished, refrigerate leftovers immediately; do not leave foods out at room temperature.
  • Reheat leftovers to an internal temperature of 165°F. Liquid products such as soups, etc. must be brought to a boil.