Proper food safety protects against food bacteria that can make your family sick. It is important to know how to buy, store, and cook food safely and to know how to clean up afterward.
Buying and Storing Food
- When buying meat, poultry, or fish, check the expiration date on the label. Even if the expiration date is still acceptable, don’t buy fish or meats that smell or look strange. In your cart, keep meats separate from other items.
- Check inside egg cartons. Make sure the eggs are clean and free from cracks. Keep eggs on a shelf in your refrigerator to keep them cool, not in the fridge door.
- Your refrigerator should be set for 40ºF (5ºC) and your freezer should be set to 0ºF (-18ºC) or lower to keep food safe.
- Put meat, poultry, and fish in separate plastic bags so that their juices don’t get on your other foods.
When preparing food…
- Wash all fruits and vegetables with plain running water to remove any pesticides, dirt, or bacteria.
- Wash your hands with hot water and soap before preparing foods and after handling raw meat, poultry, fish, or egg products.
- Keep raw meats and their juices away from other foods in the refrigerator and on countertops.
- Keep cutting boards and utensils that touch raw meat, poultry, and fish away from clean ones.
- Thaw frozen meat, poultry, and fish in the refrigerator or microwave, never at room temperature and cook immediately after thawing.
Safe Clean Up
When cleaning up…
- Refrigerate any leftovers as soon as possible after cooking. If left to sit at room temperature, bacteria in the food will multiply quickly. Eat leftovers within 3 to 4 days or throw them out.
- Use paper towels to wipe your hands after handling raw meat, poultry, fish, or eggs rather than a cloth dishtowel. Bacteria can get on the cloth towel and spread to another person’s hands.
- Wipe your kitchen counters and other used surfaces with hot soapy water or a cleaning solution.
- Wash cutting boards separately from other dishes and utensils in hot, soapy water. Don’t use old cutting boards with cracks or deep gouges because bacteria may hide in the cracks of the board.
- Use a dishrag that can dry between uses for cleanup instead of a sponge. Sponges stay wet longer and can hold on to bacteria. Wash dirty dishrags and towels in hot soapy water.
Q & A
Q: “Besides my child getting into cabinets with poisonous chemicals or touching hot surfaces, are there any other kitchen dangers I need to look out for?”
A: Even while you are not cooking, the kitchen can be a dangerous place for an exploring child. Be sure to put things away after use that can be dangerous:
- Tinfoil and plastic wraps – Keep tinfoil and plastic wrap stored out of your child’s reach. The foil and plastic can be a choking or suffocation hazard, and the sharp metal edge on the box can cause cuts.
- Spices – Keep spices off countertops and out of your child’s reach. Some spices can be toxic if eaten in large amounts. Make sure vitamins and medicines are out of reach as well.
- Trash cans – Be sure to keep your trash can behind a cabinet with a childproof latch. Also, tie plastic bags in a knot before throwing them in the trash.