How can a foodborne illness affect your work environment? Contaminated food can cause a person to become violently ill, and in some instances, can even cause death. September is Food Safety Education Month, so we’ll take a few minutes to learn about the best ways to keep food (and you), safe on the job.
The four basic steps to follow when purchasing, storing and preparing food include:
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and running water before preparing food.
- Wash counter tops, cutting boards and utensils after each use.
- Wash fruits and vegetables and cut away any damaged or bruised areas. Do not wash meat, poultry or eggs; you can spread bacteria.
- Keep meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from all other foods in your grocery cart. When you check out, place raw meat, poultry and seafood in plastic bags to keep their juices from dripping on other foods.
- Separate meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from all other foods in your refrigerator.
- Use separate cutting boards and plates for produce, meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.
- Use a food thermometer. The danger zone for bacteria growth is between 40°and 140° Fahrenheit (F).
- When using the microwave, heat food thoroughly to 165° F.
- Keep food hot after cooking (at 140° F or above). Bacterial growth increases as food cools after cooking.
- Refrigerate perishable, leftover and takeout foods within two hours of purchase or cooking. Keep the refrigerator at 40° F or below. Use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature.
- Thaw meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
- Don’t overstuff the refrigerator.
- When packing your lunch, use a good thermal lunch box that will keep food thoroughly chilled until you eat it.