Most food-borne illnesses begin at home, say the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). To prevent food contamination, follow these recommendations:
- Use caution when buying food:
- Gather perishable food last before checking out.
- Check eggs to make sure all are solid inside the carton.
- Place meats in a plastic bag.
- Groceries should be taken home right away to prevent spoilage.
- Store food properly:
- Store all perishable foods in the refrigerator or freezer. Date foods you put in the freezer.
- Use containers to store leftovers in the refrigerator.
- The refrigerator should be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit; the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Both should be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
- Go through your refrigerator once a week, and your freezer once a month. Use storage bags for outdated foods, or compost foods that are no longer usable.
- Use precautions when preparing and cooking food:
- Wash your hands, and clean and disinfect kitchen surfaces before beginning food preparation.
- Wash raw fruits and vegetables before you eat them.
- Defrost frozen food on a plate, either in the refrigerator or in the microwave.
- Cook food immediately after defrosting.
- Use different dishes and utensils for raw foods than those that are cooked.
- Cook eggs until they are firm.
- Cook poultry until it has an internal temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Most grocery stores carry food thermometers.
- Cook fish until it is white and flaky.
- Cook ground meat until it is brown inside.
- Cook and promptly store leftovers after food has been served:
- Harmful bacteria grow at room temperatures. Do not leave perishable foods out in high temperatures. This is especially important at picnics and buffets. Put them in a cold pack thermos container or in the refrigerator.
- Do not leave perishable foods out for longer than two hours. Better to promptly refrigerator or freeze leftovers in airtight containers or bags immediately following the meal.
- If you have doubts about whether a food is still edible, be safe and dispose of it properly.
- To avoid lengthy clean-up, put soap and water in soiled pots and pans so food residue can soak and be easily removed.
- Do not re-use soiled dishes or glasses.
- Better to put soiled dishes, utensils, glassware and cooking pans into the dishwater and run within one day. Food-ware should be washed daily, if done by hand.
- Clean and disinfect all food preparation surfaces.
- Clean and disinfect the sink after food preparation or washing dishes.
- Use a new towel each time you dry dishes. Use a new washcloth daily.
Source: Centers for Disease Control