New Year, New Opportunities for Food Safety
There’s always more you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from foodborne illness, and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is here to help with some simple safety tips.
To kick off the new year, many people like to set goals to promote healthier habits — whether that means changing up your diet, trying new habits, or learning to prepare new recipes. As you learn new habits and break old ones, keep food safety at the top of your priority list. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne infection and illness in the United States each year.
In addition to setting healthier eating goals for 2023, it’s vital to incorporate food safety to protect you and your loved ones from foodborne illnesses. To help protect yourself from foodborne infections, FSIS has these food safety tips:
- Clean – Start with clean hands, utensils, and surfaces. Wash them throughout and after food preparation to ensure bacteria don’t spread. Be sure to wash your cutting boards, dishes, and countertops with hot, soapy water. Cutting boards can be sanitized with a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water.
- Separate – Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, cutting boards, and utensils and it happens when they are not handled properly. Keep raw meat and poultry separate from other foods, whether at the grocery store or in your home kitchen.
- Cook – Always cook to a safe minimum internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer to ensure harmful bacteria have been killed.
- Chill – Keep perishable foods at a safe temperature below 40 F. Follow the 2-hour rule and don’t leave perishable foods at room temperature for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour if exposed to temperatures above 90 F). Plan to use or freeze leftovers within 4 days, and reheat to 165 F.
Another important tip to keep in mind: stay away from the danger zone. The “Danger Zone” is the temperature range where bacteria multiply rapidly between 40 F and 140 F. When perishable foods are left out for more than 2 hours, bacteria can multiply to dangerous levels that make your food unsafe to consume. Keeping cold foods cold below 40 F and hot foods hot above 140 F keeps foods safe and bacteria from multiplying.
With these simple steps to food safety, you’re all set to go forth and carry out your new year’s resolutions. Cheers to 2023!
Food Safety Specialists are Here for You
Need more information about food safety? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-MPHotline (888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety specialist, email MPHotline@usda.gov or chat live at ask.usda.gov from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.