/ Nutrition

National Nutrition Month: Food Safety

This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month encourages us to look at the choices we make “Beyond the Table” that impact our health and the environment. How we store and prepare our food is an essential part of a healthy eating routine and can help in the prevention of foodborne illness.

Foodborne illness (food poisoning) is any illness that results from eating contaminated food. Common symptoms of foodborne illness include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, or fever. Anyone can become ill from contaminated food, but some groups of people are more likely than others to become seriously ill, including:

  • Young children
  • Older adults
  • Pregnant women
  • Immunocompromised individuals including those receiving treatment for cancer or people living with HIV/AIDS

Food safety basics include washing, separating, properly cooking, and appropriately storing food. Practice the four main steps of food safety outlined below to protect you and your family from food poisoning.

1. Clean: wash hands and surfaces often, rinse fruits and vegetables well, and clean the lids of cans and jars before opening. Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, counter tops, and food. 


2. Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate. Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria are spread from one food product to another. This is especially common when handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. The key is to keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods. 


3. Cook: Cook to safe temperatures. Foods are safely cooked when they are heated to the USDA-FDA recommended safe minimum internal temperatures. Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of cooked foods.

4. Chill: Refrigerate promptly. Never leave perishable foods out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours. If the food is exposed to temperatures above 90 °F refrigerate within 1 hour. Cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Keeping a constant refrigerator temperature of 40 °F or below is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

If you suspect you or a loved one has been exposed to contaminated food:

  • Contact your health care provider immediately.
  • Call your local or state health department if you think you got sick from something you ate at a restaurant or from another food seller.

Additional Resources

USDA Food Keeper Appa tool to help you know how long foods are safe for.

USDA Food Safety– This page shares active recalls, recommendations on how to prepare and store food, and other food safety information.

God’s Love We Deliver– Safe Food Handling in Four Easy Steps sheet in English and Spanish

Food Safety Videos in English, Spanish, and Chinese- in these videos, you will find information on how to properly re-heat the meals that are delivered to you from God’s Love We Deliver.

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