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Food Safety at Home

People can get sick from food made at home. Bacteria, viruses and parasites can contaminate food if it is prepared or kept unsafe. Food safety for older adults is particularly important as they are at high risk if exposed to food poisoning To help avoid food poisoning at home follow these four steps:


Clean

Keep your kitchen clean to eliminate the spread of bacteria. Make sure you:

  • Wash your hands for 15-20 seconds before and after handling food
  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counters with hot soapy water after preparing each item and before you go to the next food
  • Wash all dish cloths used in food preparation in the hot cycle of your washing machine
  • Wash your fruits and vegetables under cool running water, even those with skins and rinds. If you use a vegetable brush, make sure that it is clean

Separate

It is important to keep different food products separate to prevent cross-contamination. Be sure that you:

  • Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other food in shopping carts and grocery bags
  • Store raw meat, poultry and seafood on the lowest shelves in your refrigerator to avoid juices dripping onto other food
  • Use one cutting board for meat, poultry and seafood and another for fruits and vegetables
  • Do not place cooked food on unwashed plates that had raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or unwashed fruits and vegetables on them

Cook

Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough temperature to kill any harmful bacteria. Don’t forget to:

  • Cook food at least to the temperatures described in the Safe Cooking Temperatures chart
  • Use a probe food thermometer to measure and monitor the internal temperature of cooked food
  • If cooked food is not eaten immediately, it should be quickly chilled in the refrigerator or held hot at 60 ᵒ C (140 ᵒ F) or higher until eaten
  • Reheat leftovers to 74°C (165°) or higher
  • Bring gravy, sauce and soup to a rolling boil when being reheated

Note: Wash a probe food thermometer with hot soapy water after each use.


Chill

Bacteria multiply the fastest between 4°C (40° F) and 60°C (140° F). Chilling food properly is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of illness. Always remember to:

  • Keep your refrigerator at 4°C or lower. Use a fridge thermometer in your refrigerator and monitor it frequently
  • Keep hot foods at 60°C or higher
  • Keep cold food at 4°C or lower
  • Cool hot food by putting small portions into containers before putting it in the refrigerator or freezer
  • Refrigerate or freeze all perishable food within two hours after you purchase or prepare it
  • Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible and use within 48 hours

Note: Thaw all food or meat in the refrigerator, microwave or under cold running water. If food is thawed in a microwave, cook it right away.

 



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