Ask the Dietitian: Food Safety
As you prepare for picnic season, pack up these food safety tips so you can enjoy your meal and avoid any unnecessary dangers!
Q: What do I need to know about food safety?
A: From Masha Fox-Rabinovich, MA, RD, LDN, CDE, outpatient dietitian at Washington Adventist Hospital, and by Natalie Frison, Sodexo dietetic intern:
You may not think of leftovers as being threatening to your health, but many foods, including fresh produce, and meat, may contain disease-causing bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Ingesting these pathogens may lead to foodborne illness. Proper handling, preparing, and storing of food can help reduce your risk.
Follow these four principles of food safety:
- Clean—Wash hands and surfaces often.
- Wash hands under warm, running water with soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
- Wash cutting boards, utensils, and surfaces with hot water and soap between preparation of raw meats and preparation of foods that will not be cooked, such as produce.
- Run cutting boards and utensils through the dishwasher.
- Use paper towels to dry hands and to wipe surfaces. If you use a cloth towel, wash it often in the hot cycle of the washing machine.
- Clean fresh fruits and vegetables. For produce with firm skin, such as apples, scrub with a produce brush.
- Clean the lids of canned goods before opening.
- Separate – Don’t cross-contaminated.
- Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from ready-to-eat foods in your shopping cart and in your refrigerator.
- Never place cooked food on a plate or surface that held raw items without first thoroughly cleaning the plate or surface.
- Use separate cutting boards – one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood, and another for ready-to-eat produce, breads, and cooked items.
- Cook – Cook to safe temperatures.
- Cook food to the proper temperatures as determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of cooked foods. Measure the temperature in several places to ensure that it is thoroughly cooked through.
- Ground beef, pork, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 160°F.
- Beef, pork, veal, and lamb steaks, roasts, and chops should be cooked to 145°F.
- Fish and other seafood should be cooked to 145°F.
- Chicken, turkey, and duck (whole, pieces, or ground) should be cooked to 165°F.
- Eggs and egg dishes should be cooked to 160°F.
- Chill – Refrigerate promptly.
- Refrigerate or freeze within 2 hours of cooking or purchasing. If it is hotter than 90°F, refrigerate or freeze within 1 hour.
- Never thaw frozen food at room temperature. Instead, thaw in the refrigerator, in the microwave, or in cold water. If you choose to thaw food in cold water, cook immediately after thawing.
- To cool large batches of food quickly and safely, divide into several small containers.
- Follow proper storage guidelines as determined by the USDA and FDA.
Look out for more healthy tips from our resident dietitian, coming soon! Do you have questions about food or dieting? We’d like to hear from you! Please share your questions in the comments section below.