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Health Department

Food Safety in the Home

Even though the United States has the safest food in the world, from time to time people become ill after consuming contaminated food. However, most food poisoning incidents can be avoided through safe foodhandling practices in the home.

Food safety concerns in the home revolve around four functions: Food Storage, Food Handling, Cooking, and Disinfecting Work Surfaces.

I. Food Storage

  • Poultry products should always be stored on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
  • Use a refrigerator thermometer to verify that the refrigerator temperature is 41° F or below. Freezers must be 0° F or below.
  • Raw meat and poultry should be wrapped securely so they do not leak and contaminate other foods.
  • Potentially hazardous foods, such as beef, poultry, seafood, egg products, dairy products, pork, cooked rice and cut melons must be stored below 41° F or above 140° F.
  • All foods must be wrapped and/or covered while in storage.
  • When preparing salads, such as potato salad, pre-chill all ingredients before mixing.
  • Store large quantities of food in thin shallow containers to insure rapid cooling in the refrigerator.

II. Foodhandling

Wash hands with warm water and soap with a lot of friction for at least 20 seconds after going to the restroom; before and after handling food, especially raw meat, poultry and fish.

III. Cooking

Be sure all of the 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 to be served hot must be reheated to an internal temperature of 165° F.

IV. Disinfecting Work Surfaces

Before preparing foods on any surface - sanitize it. Clean the surface with a mixture of hot soapy water, rinse thoroughly, then sanitize with a solution containing household bleach and water. Mix one capful of bleach to one gallon of water, then swab the work surface with a clean towel (cloth) with this solution.

If you do these four things properly, you will probably prevent food poisoning from occurring in your home.

There is an old saying that goes a long way when questioning whether a food is safe or not:  "When in doubt, throw it out".