Cleanliness Helps Prevent Foodborne Illness
| Spring has long been the
time of year for annual cleaning projects around our
homes. However, when it comes to safe food handling, everything
that comes in contact with food must be kept clean all year
Food that is mishandled can lead to foodborne illness. While
the United States has one of the safest food supplies in the
world, preventing foodborne illness remains a major public health
challenge. USDA developed the Be Food Safe campaign in cooperation with
the Partnership for Food Safety Education,
FDA, and CDC
because research shows that Americans are aware of food safety, but they need more
information to achieve and maintain safe food handling behaviors. Be Food Safe
means preventing foodborne illness through four easy steps: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.
- Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often.
- Separate: Don't cross-contaminate.
- Cook: Cook to proper temperatures.
- Chill: Refrigerate promptly.
Cleanliness is a major factor in preventing foodborne illness.
Even with food safety inspection and monitoring at Federal,
State, and local government facilities, the consumers
role is to make sure food is handled safely after it is purchased.
Everything that touches food should be clean. Listed below are
steps we can take to help prevent foodborne illness by safely
handling food in the home:
- Wash hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds:
- before and after handling food
- after using the bathroom
- after changing a diaper
- after handling pets
- after tending to a sick person
- after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- after handling uncooked eggs or raw meat, poultry, or fish and their juices.
- If your hands have any kind of skin abrasion
or infection, always use clean disposable gloves. Wash hands
(gloved or not) with warm, soapy water.
- Thoroughly wash with hot, soapy water all surfaces
that come in contact with raw meat, poultry, fish, and eggs
before moving on to the next step in food preparation. Consider
using paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces. If you use
dishcloths, wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing
machine. Keep other surfaces, such as faucets and counter
tops, clean by washing with hot, soapy water.
- To keep cutting boards clean, wash them in hot,
soapy water after each use; then rinse and air or pat dry
with clean paper towels. Cutting boards can be sanitized
with a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine
bleach per gallon of water. Flood the surface with the bleach
solution and allow it to stand for several minutes; then
rinse and air or pat dry with clean paper towels.
Non-porous acrylic, plastic, glass, and solid wood boards
can be washed in a dishwasher (laminated boards may crack
and split). Even plastic boards wear out over time. Once
cutting boards become excessively worn or develop hard-to-clean
grooves, replace them.
- Don't use the same platter and utensils that
held the raw product to serve the cooked product. Any bacteria
present in the raw meat or juices can contaminate the safely
cooked product. Serve cooked products on clean plates, using
clean utensils and clean hands.
- When using a food thermometer, it is important
to wash the probe after each use with hot, soapy water before
reinserting it into a food.
- Keep pets, household cleaners, and other chemicals
away from food and surfaces used for food.
- When picnicking or cooking outdoors, take plenty
of clean utensils. Pack clean, dry, and wet and soapy cloths
for cleaning surfaces and hands.
Because bacteria are everywhere, cleanliness is a major factor
in preventing foodborne illness. By keeping everything clean
that comes in contact with food, consumers can be assured they
are helping to do their part to Be Food Safe.
March 22, 2011