USDA'S Meat and Poultry Hotline Presents the
Top 10 Reasons to Handle Your Food Safely
In 2010, USDA' Meat and Poultry Hotline began its 25th year as a toll-free public service. Consumers with food safety questions
may call the hotline any time (the staff is available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time; recorded messages are available other times)
with questions on the safe handling of meat and poultry products.
In honor of the hotline's 25th anniversary, the staff presents its "Top 10 Reasons to Handle Your Food Safely."
NUMBER 10: Safe food handling practices
are the ones most likely to preserve food's peak quality.
Keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold inhibits growth of
the microorganisms that can spoil your food or make you ill.
Storage at the proper temperature also retains the fresh appearance,
pleasant aroma and agreeable texture that contribute so strongly
to an enjoyable dining experience.
NUMBER 9: Safe food handling lets you
enjoy to the fullest the nutritional benefits of food.
If you've taken the time to carefully select a variety of healthful
foods, why not use them up — or properly preserve them
for long-term storage — while nutrient levels are at their
peak? Foods that must be discarded due to decay or temperature
abuse nourish no one.
NUMBER 8: The safest ways to handle food
are usually the most efficient.
Don't take chances in the name of saving time. Thawing meat
and poultry products at room temperature and partial cooking
are examples of practices which can seem like good ideas, but
that may actually encourage bacterial growth by keeping food
in the "Danger Zone" (40°-140 °F.) where bacteria
multiply fastest. In the case of bacteria that produce heat-resistant
toxins, this becomes a problem that further cooking can't fix.
NUMBER 7: Safe food handling is easy.
You set a good example for others, including your children.
You are the last person to handle your food before it is eaten.
You may be the last person to handle food before it is served
to your family or friends. Take charge! Prevention of illness
may be as simple as washing your hands — an often-neglected
but VERY important act.
NUMBER 6: Safe food handling inspires
confidence and keeps peace in the family.
Imagine: No more family feuds because someone handled dinner
in a questionable fashion. And family and friends won't call
the Meat and Poultry Hotline begging to have food safety literature
mailed to your address!
Safe food handling can enhance your standing in the community.
Food for a concession stand, bake sale or church supper must
be carefully prepared. Many of those in your community are very
young, elderly, or suffering from health problems that affect
the immune system. These folks are at increased risk for foodborne
illness. Protect their health and the reputation of your organization.
NUMBER 4: Safe food handling is the responsible
thing to do.
Those for whom you prepare food deserve the best, and you expect
no less from those who produce and prepare food for you. You
are no less important than the manufacturer, government regulator,
or grocer in assuring food safety. You are an important link
in the farm-to-table chain.
NUMBER 3: Safe food handling saves money.
Foodborne illness costs billions each year in health care costs
and lost wages. It's hard to throw away food you know has been
mishandled. But compare the cost of the food to the cost of
a bad case of food poisoning, starting with the doctor's bill!
NUMBER 2: By handling food safely, you
will spare yourself and your family from a painful bout of illness.
Bacterial, parasitic or viral illness caused by food is no fun,
and it can have long-term consequences.
Should we fear food? No. Microscopic organisms have always been
and will always be an important part of our world. But we must
store foods properly, cook them thoroughly and keep our hands
and work areas clean. Sometimes, what you can't see can hurt
Which brings us to the...
NUMBER 1 REASON TO HANDLE YOUR FOOD SAFELY:
It may save a life.
Safe food handling really does make a difference. Where do you
start? Learn more. USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline can answer
your food safety questions. Just call 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854)
- Toll-free Nationwide, or 1-800-256-7072 (TDD/TTY).
September 29, 2010