/ Nutrition

5 Easy Ways to Practice Food Safety at Home

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness (also known as food poisoning) each year. High summer temperatures provide the ideal growing conditions for bacteria, a cause of food borne illness, and adults aged 65 years and older, pregnant women, individuals with weakened immune systems, and children aged 5 years and younger are at a higher risk. Signs of a foodborne illness include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever. Below are some simple, yet important steps that you can take at home to help prevent foodborne illness.

Proper hand washing is often a step overlooked when cooking at home. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Hand washing is the single best way to remove bacteria from your skin.

The safest way to defrost food is overnight in the refrigerator. Do not thaw foods on the counter to avoid “the temperature danger zone,” between 41-140 degrees, where bacteria reproduce the quickest.

Set the temperature of your freezer to 0 degrees F or below and the temperature of your refrigerator between 32-40 degrees F.


Heat is one of the best ways to kill bacteria. Using a thermometer is the ideal way to ensure your food is cooked to the proper temperature, which should always be above 140 degrees F. While color and texture are not always the most reliable way to ensure your food is fully cooked, it may be a good indicator if you do not have access to a thermometer. For example, when cooking eggs, the yolk and white should be cooked until they are firm.

Re-heating food in the microwave

  • To promote even cooking and avoid cold spots, place your food in the center of the microwave, cover it with a lid or plastic wrap, and stir food halfway through cooking it.
  • Let your food stand for two minutes after cooking to promote an even distribution of heat

Wash your fruits and vegetables

  • It is important to wash produce as many food borne illness outbreaks occur from the use of manure fertilizer.
  • To wash, simply place the fruit or vegetables under running water and rub the skin with your hands.

Clean your kitchen

  • Be sure to clean your dishes, cutting boards, cookware, countertops etc. with hot water and dish soap after each use, especially after handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
  • Clean up crumbs and scraps as they can attract unwanted bugs and animals which can be carriers of germs.

Store your food properly

  • Be sure to store dry foods in air-tight containers in a cool, dry area.
  • Store raw meats at the bottom of the fridge, and fresh produce and cooked foods on the upper shelves.

Separate raw and cooked foods